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)

The Beau & The Belle by R.S. Grey

the beau and the bellegoodreads-synopsis

Beau Fortier starred in most of my cringe-worthy teenage fantasies.

I met him when I was a junior in high school, a time that revolved exclusively around bad hair, failed forays into flirting, and scientific inquiries into which brand of toilet paper worked best for stuffing bras.

That is, until Beau moved into the small guest house just beyond my bedroom window.

A 24-year-old law student at Tulane, Beau was as mysterious to me as second base (both in baseball and in the bedroom). He was older. Intimidating. Hot. Boys my age had chicken legs and chubby cheeks. Beau had calloused hands and a jaw cut from steel. Our interactions were scarce—mostly involving slight stalking on my end—and yet deep down, I desperately hoped he saw me as more of a potential lover than a lovesick loser.

Turns out, I was fooling myself. My fragile ego learned that lesson the hard way.

Now, ten years later, we’re both back in New Orleans, and guess who suddenly can’t take his eyes off little ol’ me.

My old friend, Mr. Fortier.

But things have changed. I’m older now—poised and confident. My ego wears a bulletproof vest. The butterflies that once filled my stomach have all perished.

When I was a teenager, Beau warned me to guard my heart.

Let’s hope he knows how to guard his.

commentary

This book review is LONG overdue. The first R.S. Grey novel I read was Chasing Spring, and even to this day, I still gush about it. SO, I have been following the author on her social media, and I am a huge fan of her covers for adult books. Now, I was in the mood to read a R.S. Grey book, especially her adult books…now how bad could it possibly be?? Those were my initial thoughts, but, boy did I cringed throughout my reading experience!

Maybe I am not the best person to turn to when recommending Adult books…I felt this book was uncomfortable for me. I wanted to go back to my YA books, and not touch a New Adult book.

So, what had happen was that this book included a very questionable relationship between Beau and Lauren. In the first part of the book, Lauren is a teenager that actively lusts for Beau. I had no problems with it. I have to admit that the author wrote Lauren as convincingly human as she could be. Lauren was realistic, and she developed a crush on a much older guy…now my main issue was the behavior of Beau towards Lauren in the first part…He was aware of the very QUESTIONABLE relationship they could have gotten into in the first portion of the book. YET, he felt the same for her…I felt gross…

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Lauren was the worst protagonist as well. She would get mad at Beau for not trying to flirt with her, or be her boyfriend. She wanted a relationship with him, though he kept repeating to her that she was UNDERAGE! This book has no need for the REVENGE element. The protagonist was so stupid…I can’t even. Lauren was so infuriating…and out of all the least liked characters on my list, she is now officially NUMBER ONE.

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Other than that, this was supposed to be a romantic comedy, and yet I found myself neither laughing nor amused. Maybe this wasn’t the book for me. I wasn’t satisfied with either character. Lauren as an adult acted as if she had never gotten away from her cringing teen phase. I wanted Lauren to be a changed person, especially when Beau reappeared into her life. I wanted Lauren to be strong…but I guess I had too many expectations going into this book. May I consider another Adult book from R.S. Grey…maybe….I guess I can try for next year or in the next five years. I was in the mood for something romantic…and yet I found myself hating every bit of this book. I’m disappointed, but this was not marketed for my demographic.

Final Rating: ⭐ (1.5)

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: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms

MAL Synopsis:

The story begins with Maquia, who is from a family where all the members stop aging in their mid teens. She has no parents and, although her days are peaceful, she feels lonely. Their peace is shattered when an army invades, seeking the secret to her people’s immortality. Leilia, the most beautiful girl in her clan, is taken away, and the boy Maquia has secret feelings for disappears. Maquia is able to escape, but she loses her friends and her home. Wandering alone in the forest, she finds Erial, a baby boy who has lost his parents. The story follows the changing relationship between the two as Erial grows up and Maquia does not.

Commentary:

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My friend recommended that I watch Maquia. She attended this year’s Anime Expo, and had the opportunity to see the movie. It came out in my local theater, and it blew me away. Maquia is set in a fantasy past, filled with immortals and dragons from mythology. Maquia belongs to a clan that never ages, and for that, a neighboring kingdom targets her village in order to establish dominance over the world.

Maquia is separated from her people, and faces the world on her own until she stumbles upon a young baby. Maquia adopts the baby, despite her having a different lifespan from humans. Essentially, the main theme of this movie revolves around motherhood. Maquia is a young girl, who is introduced as alone, and you can guess that she was an orphaned in her village. With baby Ariel, Maquia blends into the society, but she could never stay in one spot. She has no permanent home, and this is a problem especially as Ariel grows older.

This movie is emotionally driven, you know that Maquia will outlive her son, but as a movie goer, I had hope for a more positive ending. Maquia made me cry. The ending was extremely sad, but the movie was just so good. Though the tale is about Maquia and her experiences of motherhood, there is a complex political struggle happening in the background. Maquia and her people were sought to out due to their immortality. Her people were prized by a kingdom that tried to establish a hegemony over their society. Maquia is connected to the politics, due to her friendship with the queen. This movie establishes how much a mother is willing to go for her child.

Ariel was provided a happy childhood, and experience. As he grew into a teenager and adult, he has conflicting feelings for Maquia. The child version of Ariel is devoted to his mother, and willing to please her. Maquia tries to keep a normal childhood for her son, though people regard her as strange. There is a point in the movie when Ariel’s friends make fun of him for liking his mom. The teen version of Ariel suffers with conflicting feelings over Maquia. Ariel loves his mother, and is conflicted because they appear to be the same age outwardly. In his teenage years, he suffers a identity crisis because Maquia is viewed as his sister, and he has no means of protecting her.

I really wanted a relationship to be established between Maquia and Lang. There were a couple events in the movie that would have allowed for a romantic relationship for Maquia. This movie is not about romance, but a love that is pure and kind, and endless: Motherhood. Maquia loved Ariel as her son, no matter what happened to her. She devoted her life to raising her child, and that makes this story beautiful and unique, and well worth your time.

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Maquia is a beautiful story, and you will find yourself in tears by the end. It is worth it to see! The animation and music are beautiful. I had no idea that Mari Okada directed this! It was wonderful. I’ve seen her other works like Anohana.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐

DNF: Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic

wicked like a wildfire.jpgGoodreads Synopsis:

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Commentary:

I TRIED READING THIS BOOK FOR OVER A MONTH. I AM FRUSTRATED WITH IT. BEAUTIFUL COVER. TRAGIC STORY.  (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━

So, Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic has been difficult for me to read. I am not indicating the writing style or grammar, I can’t get into this book. It has been such as a ride. I attempted to read this book back in June…and July is almost over…

I can say that I give too many opportunities for books that I never really like. For example, The Beau and The Belle was HORRIBLE, and I finished it. As for Wicked Like A Wildfire, I couldn’t.

Iris is the MC, she is wild and cannot be contained. She is unnecessarily extra with her attitude towards her mother. She acts like a Queen Bee, and doesn’t give her mother a break. She has a twin sister named Malina, who is portrayed as the perfect child, whereas Iris is the rebellious one. Though the two girls are twins…it seems like they are strangers/roommates living together.

Though this book does have a murder…this book moves at a snail’s pace. It felt like nothing was happening with the characters or the attempt to resolve the conflict. All I know is that Iris and Malina, and their family are witches…they can’t do their magic in public life. They have to conceal their magic in order to blend with society. Iris has fallen for a tourist with a bad boy personality. She is romantically linked with the tourist, despite having major feelings for her best guy friend…

I honestly can’t remember much of what I read. I really had hopes for this book, but I should have read reviews, and I felt I wasted my time. 

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Other than that, the characters weren’t memorable. I love reading books about witches…but please consider not reading this one. There are other memorable books, but I don’t know why this book is getting a sequel to it. Not giving it a second chance. I’m done. (╬ಠ益ಠ)

Feel like reading a book about witches? I recommend Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova.

ARC: Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius The Great is Not Okay Goodreads Synopsis:

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Commentary:

tumblr_inline_niyn5ntHcI1ry72eo I received the arc for Darius The Great Is Not Okay when I attended Yallwest, all opinions are my own. tumblr_inline_niyn5ntHcI1ry72eo  ʕ灬→ᴥ←灬ʔ

I am trying to read as much as possible before going back to my fall semester of my senior year at university. I picked up Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram for my July book of the month. I was immediately drawn to the cover, the colors and details are by far my favorite.

Darius Kellner is a biracial teenager who suffers from depression. He fells outcasted in his school, and his family, especially by his father. Darius understands that he is not normal. He is a bit on the heavy side, nerdy, and doesn’t socialize with people. His father has his own ambitions for his son in order for Darius to fit in with the normal boys in school. In addition, Darius is a victim of being bullied often by the popular boys. I felt quite sad for Darius due his illness, and how it seem like nothing was going his way.

Darius also suffers from an identity crisis because he is biracial. Though he looks Persian on the outside, he is far more Americanized. Darius could hardly speak to his grandparents in Farsi. He feels socially awkward with his Persian family because he does not fit in, and mental illness is not spoken of. He compares himself with his younger sibling who speaks Farsi like the pro.

A family trip to Iran shakes Darius’s world. He is introduced to his mother’s homeland and experiences an overall change because of it. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Darius’s grandfather is slowing dying. The family trip is supposed to connect the family together, and bring Darius closer together to his Persian history. Darius experiences different events in his short trip abroad. He becomes best friends with Sohrab, who immediately accepts him, though Darius completely does not understand why. Darius feels he has multiple flaws, despite being surrounded by people who love and support him. (灬♥ω♥灬)

If you go into this book thinking it is a romance, that’s not the case. For me, I did feel that Darius had feelings for Sohrab because of their connection, and their trusting friendship. What stood out for me was the relationship between Darius and his father, Stephen Kellner. Though both have depression, each character handles their depression differently. Stephen Kellner expects Darius to be masculine, and be normal. He does not want his son to be a victim of bullying. There is miscommunication and tense conversations between Darius and his father. It was hard for both of them to come to an understanding. Another aspect that shone in the book was how older generations treat mental illness. Darius tried keeping his depression a secret from his grandparents. It is hard to communicate with family members when it comes to mental illness. This caused a lot of awkward moments.

The writing was quite interesting to say the least. I was not the biggest fan of the writing style, and it took me a while to get used to…and it honestly seemed there was going to be a romance between Darius and Sohrab. I was expecting it for the very last chapters of the book…and it left me disappointed. I would have loved if the author had explored Darius sexuality more. Some scenes did feel that Darius was flirting, but it was a bit frustrating that this never led anywhere. It also felt that Darius kept reminding readers that he is not fully Persian, nor will ever be. I understand his identity crisis, but it was a constant reminder in most chapters…it did get really annoying. (╬ Ò ‸ Ó)

Honestly, this was a fast read for me. Darius deserved the world and more, he was really sensitive, and he really needed love. Let’s say, I can relate with Darius when it comes to mental illness. It was good, but I am sure others will love it more than me. ٩(๑•◡-๑)۶ⒽⓤⒼ❤

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.75)

 

The Graces by Laure Eve

thegracesbookreview

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

Commentary

I finally decided to pick up The Graces by Laure Eve. I had the book on my reading list for almost a year. I was in the mood to read a story with a creepy atmosphere, and I am such a big fan of stories that have witches. I saw the rating on Goodreads…it was lower than I had anticipated, but I decided to read it. I tried not letting the ratings bother my reading, and everyone has different experiences when reading. When it came to finishing the book, now I understand why The Graces has low ratings.

I’ve read some terrible books this year, but River is possibly the worst snowflake offender for 2018. River mentioned so many times that she was not like other girls…Okay, River is the definition of a “pick me” character:

Urban Dictionary:

  1. A person who begs for the attention, acceptance and approval of a certain group in different things they say. In most case, it’s to attain the attention, acceptance and approval of the opposite sex.

River is the living embodiment of a “pick me” character. River is introduced as the new girl who can’t make friends, and a bit of a loner. Though she has a hard time adjusting to her school, she is entranced by The Graces. The Graces happen to be popular siblings attending her high school, both rich and mysterious. It is rumored that the Graces are witches. River is madly in love with Fenrin, the only male sibling. River tries to be a cool girl with a non-conformist attitude, but she desperately wants to fit in with the siblings. Most importantly she wants to be like the siblings. Her life revolves on pleasing the siblings and pretending to be something she is not.

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River’s home life is not great. Her father mysteriously disappeared, and her mother ignores her daughter’s life. River is given independence, and most of her life revolves around the Graces. She cannot live without them. River gets accepted into the group, because she becomes the best friend of Summer. River tries to be different from all the other friends of the Graces. River tries to be so cool that she makes it known that she is not interested in Fenrin, though as a reader, you know that she loves him. The love is pretty much one-sided. Because all the girls love Fenrin, the Grace siblings do not have permanent friends.

River is the only person that gets accepted into the inner circle, and rises to popularity. Although River is dear to the siblings, she is not fully accepted.

“The Graces had friends, but then they didn’t. Once in a while, they would descend on someone they’d never hung out with before, making them theirs for a time, but a time was usually all it was. They changed friends like some people changed hairstyles, as if perpetually waiting for someone better to come along.”

Summer is the goth, Fenrin is the hot dreamboat, and Thalia is the manic pixie girl. All the siblings are best friends with each other. Each character had dark secrets, and the friends were not as united as I had assumed. The siblings aren’t aware of the privilege and status they have. The Graces manipulate people and cause damage to the people that get involved.

The magic of the book is never really explained. Though the Graces are considered witches, the magic system is based on the intention of words. It reminded me sort of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. The Graces never really indicate whether they are witches. Each sibling has a different belief. Summer believes in magic, Fenrin doesn’t care, and Thalia is frightened by the supposed curse on the family.

This book is messy with drama. River is accepted into the lives of the Graces. She gets involved with drinking and partying. All the characters are messy. There are ridiculous events that happen in the book. Even though I don’t like the characters, I found them to be entertaining, and the book was laughable. Like I mentioned, the romance is one-sided. Fenrin is a tease and a flirt. River sees signs of Fenrin being interested in her, but he never acts on it. Fenrin doesn’t have permanent relationships with women. I felt that Summer might have had romantic feelings for River. I would have liked to see a romance between the best friends rather than Fenrin and River. There was one character that I did not like because he was there, and his name is Wolf. I did not care for him, but he plays a crucial part in the story, which I never saw coming.

“It was easy to romanticize tragedy, like you suddenly transformed into some sort of Byronic hero, sitting in darkened rooms with crystal glasses of whisky, hair tousled and artfully lank from all those sleepless nights starting at the walls and cursing the gods.”

I couldn’t take the book seriously. It reminds me a lot of Twilight, but with witches instead of vampires. Fenrin and Edward are similar, but Fenrin is not a stalker like Edward. Neither is Wolf like Jacob. River is an unreliable narrator, and a try hard. There were a couple of twists that did make the last half of the book more enjoyable. I initially rated this book 2-stars, but I did like it more than I imagined. I do look forward to reading the sequel for this series. The second book will be in Summer’s perspective from the synopsis on Goodreads. I am looking forward to reading about this problematic siblings and their angst.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.25)

 

ARC: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

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Goodreads Synopis:

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

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Commentary

“Darkwood might be progressive, but your society on the whole has a long history of classifying people by their race or religion or sexual orientation or gender and using those classifications to subjugate particular groups. It is surprising that a bunch of small-minded government leaders think cloning is the first step onto a slippery slope of Armageddon and the demise of the human race as we know it?”

Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for The Similars for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This contains a lot of spoilers!

The main protagonist of The Similars is Emma Chance, who has a difficult time adjusting to her best friend’s suicide. Her school life changes when six clones are enrolled in her school. Though Emma does not have prejudice against the clones, there is one clone that stands out of the six. Levi is the clone of her best friend Ollie, and it shakes Emma’s world. It is clear that Emma is still processing the death of her friend, and having Levi at her school, does not allow her to heal mentally. She is reminded of Ollie, even though he is not alive. Though the physical similarities of Levi and Ollie are the same, their personalities are different. Emma goes through a wild school year with the Similars and the dark secrets in her school.

This world is an alternate future where clones barely have rights in the United States, and the rest of the world. This book reminds me of immigration due to the prejudice and discrimination that the Similars encounter. The subject of the book was the most unique aspect that I really liked, but as for the rest of the book, I didn’t like the execution.

I thought Emma Chance was an okay character. Emma is vulnerable, especially the scenes involving her getting emotional over Ollie.

“If I’ve learned anything these past few months since Oliver died, it’s that pills don’t take away your grief and pain on their own. They mask it, briefly. But it’s all worse when you emerge from the pharma haze and realize your best friend is still gone.”

Emma tries adjusting in her school year, and depends on medicine to get her by because the pain is raw. She loved Ollie, and as for Levi, she gives him a hard time. Levi’s presence makes it hard for Emma to move on because he is a reminder of what she lost. I have to admit, that Emma is lucky person given that she eavesdrops and uncovers so many secrets without getting caught. There were no high stakes in the book because Emma was able to get away without getting hurt. Emma’s curiosity leads her to ask many questions about the clones and her surroundings, but no one wants to reveal the truth.

As for Levi, he is a bookworm and treats Emma with some disdain. Emma mistreats and criticizes him, and he does not allow himself to be a pushover. It would have been great to know Ollie’s personality to compare the two. The romance of Emma and Levi was a slow burn, love hate relationship. Though I do want to categorize it into a insta-love relationship since Emma is drawn to Levi because of his similar appearance to Ollie. But, I was not amazed. I would have preferred no romance to be honest.

I felt that most of the clones had dull personalities. I hoped that the author does expand their personalities in the next book because it seemed like all of the similar were the same…just different names. Levi was the only one to have a personality, and I didn’t care for the other similars.

A lot of events of the book were highly predictable for me, and these are some of the reasons:

  • Mean girls and cliques…
  • Love triangle between Ollie, Emma, and Levi…
  • Petty drama and 20-year grudge…
  • The school using the clones for medical research…
  • Surprise…not really Ollie is alive
  • The clones were created to get revenge for this 20-year grudge…
  • It was obvious who the villain was at the halfway mark…
  • Emma is not she is…she in fact is a similar

This book tried being a lot of things…and left me unsatisfied. The twists and turn were too predictable. It was hard for me to read the book because I made a lot of guesses that came out being true. It was a bit frustrating to read, the world building could have been better, and I don’t want to pick up the next book.

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Publishing Date: January 1st 2019

Final Rating:  

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Mini Book Reviews: Graphic Novels II

the scarlet roseSynopsis: After the horrendous murder of her father, Maud discovers she has a grandfather, a noble count living in Paris, where she must now live. There she encounters The Fox, a masked Robin Hood-like rogue – a dashing figure she falls for. While her grandfather struggles to tame her wild spirit and introduce her to Society, Maud rebels by secretly becoming the masked Fox-like marauder – The Scarlet Rose!

Maud une jeune fille rêveuse et éprise de justice, vit en France au XVIIIe siècle. L’assassinat incompréhensible de son père l’oblige à rejoindre Paris où vit son grand-père, un noble dont elle ignorait jusqu’à l’existence. Elle y croise la route du Renard, un brigand des grands chemins qu’elle admire. Mais elle ne sait encore rien du secret que lui a légué son père et que convoite un mystérieux individu.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Commentary: I believe the child version of me would have loved The Scarlet Rose. It has elements that I love which are historical periods, sword fighting, and heroic antics. This book is set in France during the 18th century, and it  is a bit of a mystery. Though The Scarlet Rose has elements I love in books, the pacing of the book felt too obvious. I applaud Maud for going beyond and becoming a vigilante due to her obession with the French version of The Zorro, but that’s about it. When reading this comic, I immediately knew who The Fox’s identity was. It could have left some mystery, but that was not the case. Some of the events were a tad dramatic, but a young reader would enjoy it. And by young, I mean like a kid. Though, the costume could have been better. It’s a tad on the gaudy side. None the less, the book was entertaining, but everything was too obvious.

ghost storiesSynopsis: Ghost Stories is a graphic novel collection offering three haunting explorations. Granted the chance to meet three of her dead idols in “Ghost,” the author’s cartoon-self embarks on a journey to remote and unanticipated landscapes, in a story of self-discovery and healing. In “Wallpaper,” a child tells the story of a household move, remodel, and loss through the lens of flashbulb memory. And in “Makers,” two girls with an unorthodox friendship make a rocky transition into adulthood. Throughout each tale, ghosts exist as past selves and remnants of past relationships that are met with inquiry, resolution, and personal rebirth.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Commentary: What kind of comic was this? The stories were not connected, and it was all over the place for me. The only story that was the best written was Makers despite the anti-climatic ending. When I saw the cover, it was gorgeous and simplistic. I wanted to read the book based on the cover. I fell for a cover again. It was a weak story. Assuming that ghost stories was going to be based on ghosts, this book felt like the ideal one for me. Ghost Stories the chapter was okay. I honestly thought that Ghost Stories was going to play a major part in this book. Wallpaper was the weakest chapter. As I mentioned, Makers was a relatable story. It was about friendship and growing apart. I related to it, but the ending didn’t leave satisfaction. Sadly, this book was not my cup of tea.

Fragments of Feminity.jpgSynopsis: This is a collection of portraits of 7 women, of all different ages, backgrounds, circumstances and eras. Each one of them is facing a defining moment in her life. They are bound together by the symbol of their femininity: their breasts. We see an awkward college girl getting to grips with her womanhood; a 1960s house-wife freeing herself from the restraints of propriety; the manager of a small underwear shop fighting against corporate giants; a woman nude modeling for an unexpected reason… Love, illness, sex, liberation, sensuality: Olivier Pont draws us into the lives of these women with astounding force.

Rating: ⭐️

Commentary: This is possibly the worst comic that I have ever read. The stories were all about women obessessing over their bodies. This was not feminist. This was awful. Though each story took place during different eras, this did not add to my enjoyment level. I almost dnfed this book because my frustrations with the lack of structure and the shallowness portrayed by the characters. Truly awful. I never want to experience reading this comic again. Writing about it is giving me a headache. This is mature and not meant for younger audience.

le petiti loup rougeSynopsis: This synopsis is in French, sorry ya’ll. Soudain, une voix douce L’interpella : “Pourquoi pleures-tu ?” Le petit Loup rouge se retourna. Une petite fille blonde, étrangement vêtue, le regardait avec curiosité. Décontenancé, le petit loup se rappela ce qu’on lui avait toujours enseigné, à savoir “rester loin des humains” ! Mais cette petite humaine avait l’air si gentille, si fragile, qu’il lui fit tout de suite confiance.

Il était une fois… mère louve qui envoie son louveteau porter un lapin à sa grand-mère édentée et bien trop vieille pour chasser. Mais attention ! En chemin, il devra se méfier des méchants humains : le terrible chasseur et sa fille. Sur la route, tout désemparé d’avoir englouti par gourmandise le lapin destiné à sa grand-mère, il rencontrera et suivra bien naïvement une étrange petite fille qui lui contera l’histoire de sa famille, d’un gentil chasseur et de sa femme, qui aurait été mangée par les cruels loups… Dans ce conte sombre, relecture du Petit Chaperon rouge où les rôles s’inversent, deux visions, réminiscences d’un passé cruel, vont se confronter. Mais qui, des humains ou des loups, détient la vérité sur ce souvenir douloureux ?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Commentary: Growing up on Disney and books, my heart is a sucker for fairy tales. Though I am an adult, I’m still a huge fanatic of this genre. Reading The Little Red Wolf was refreshing. It is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood, but in reverse. Instead of presenting wolves as the stereotypical villians, that is not the case in this short story.  Even though humans are presented as evil, you feel sorry for both parties. This is an endearing tale with an ending to shock you all. The artwork is beautifully gorgeous, and eye catching. The Little Red Wolf presents two perspectives to the story, adding agency to the wolves. I can’t wait to read other works by the author, she is very talented.

the tea dragon society.jpg Synopsis: From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Commentary: Wow, I was blown away by this children’s book. Let’s start with what I loved and that was the diversity in race and sexuality. I applaud this book. Besides the cover and lovely artwork, this was one of my favorite books that I have read. This is a charming book, and I can see all the love the author poured into this book. I wouldn’t mind other books in the series, and I loved reading about the dragons. The book covers details about each dragon., Greta and Minette have a cute friendship, and their bond was solidfied throughout the book. This is a highly recommened children’s book. I read The Tea Dragon society when I was experincing a book slump, but this one really helped me out through tough times.

 

Manga First Impressions: Perfect World Vol. I by Rie Aruga

Perfect World.jpgNetgalley Synopsis: Perfect World is Rie Aruga’s touching drama about the romance that develops between an abled interior designer and her first love, whom she reencounters one day only to find he is wheelchair-bound.

26-year-old Tsugumi Kawana reunites with her first crush from high school, Itsuki Ayukawa, at a get-together between an architecture firm and the interior design company she works at. He sends her heart aflutter, until she realizes he’s now disabled, and in a wheelchair. At first she feels she couldn’t date a guy in a wheelchair, but then her feelings begin to change…

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“Don’t just go and decide…that I wouldn’t be happy with you. Stop deciding…everything by yourself. Even though…There’s no one that could replace you…”

**Thank you Netgalley and Publisher for giving me an e-book copy of the book for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

The story introduces Tsugumi Kawana meeting her first love as an adult after being separated for many years. Though the times have passed, Tsugumi feels the same emotions as she did many years ago. Itsuki  is a changed man, he is no longer the same person that Tsugumi has known physically. Itsuki is now paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury during his high school days.

Tsugumi reconnects with Itsuki because the two work together and get closer. Itsuki lets Itsuki know that he is not interested in her neither is he interested in romantic relationships. He understands that he is a burden and does not want that to happen to anyone in a relationship with him. He tries his best to adapt with his disability and pursues the same passions such as basketball and architecture when he was a young boy. Tsugumi believes she knows Itsuki, but with each encounter she learns a little about him everyday.

Itsuki is sickly, he constantly goes to the hospital. He tries to make the situation light about his condition. He reminds Tsugumi that she doesn’t have to stay by his side. Rather than leaving, Tsugumi doesn’t abandon her first love. Her feelings grow stronger each time she sees Itsuki. She learns to become more empathetic being with Itsuki though he is not interested in her romantically. She tries to help Itsuki bring closure in this first volume concerning his first love. The author shows that the stakes are high if Tsugumi continues to pursue Itsuki. She will get her heart broken because of his condition, but that doesn’t stop her.

“It was a night we felt we had connected. But the happiness felt that night…was delicate…as the snow melts, and disappears.”

I thought this first volume was sweet and ended in a cute way. I prefer Itsuki over Tsugumi. He understands his condition. He is fiercely independent, but he has flaws. He doesn’t let people in. He has emotional borders due to the event. He hasn’t completely accepted the fact that he is disabled. He still lives with his disability, but he is not a poster child of it as Tsugumi believes he is. Despite his conditions, he tries his best. The best chapter of this first volume was Itsuki’s interactions with Haruto, a teenage boy that recently became disabled.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️