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: Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Since she was seven years old, Yvonne has had her trusted violin to keep her company, especially in those lonely days after her mother walked out on their family. But with graduation just around the corner, she is forced to face the hard truth that she just might not be good enough to attend a conservatory after high school.

Full of doubt about her future, and increasingly frustrated by her strained relationship with her successful but emotionally closed-off father, Yvonne meets a street musician and fellow violinist who understands her struggle. He’s mysterious, charming, and different from Warren, the familiar and reliable boy who has her heart. But when Yvonne becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she has to make the most difficult decision yet about her future.

Commentary:

Perhaps, I am getting older because it is hard for me to find a good contemporary YA book that pleases me in this day and age. Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert was a choice. The synopsis was intriguing, the plot did seem something out of the CW, so I took a chance on the book. I did receive Finding Yvonne in Yallwest, but opinions are all my own. So, this is a unpopular opinion. Considering the reviews I have seen for the book, there aren’t much negative reviews. This book was an experience, and I was left shaking my head due to certain events that played out. That being said, this will be a rant review with spoilers.
Starting on a positive note, I did enjoy how Yvonne was unapologetic about herself and her sexuality. I have no issues with a character’s sexuality. Yvonne was confident about her body and her choices. That being said, she made a lot of questionable decisions. I will say that the pregnancy aspect of the book did not play a major role as I had anticipated. The pregnancy revelation was placed near the last third of the book. The synopsis presents a story of how a pregnant Yvonne has to chose the right path due to her circumstances…but, the reality was not the case.
It is hard for me to comprehend the actions of Yvonne, especially when it came to her relationships. So, Yvonne was seeing her father’s sous chef, Warren, but it was not an exclusive relationship. The relationship between Warren and Yvonne was secretive because of the age difference between the two. Warren was protective of Yvonne, and did not want to be sexually engaged with her until she was officially 18. It seemed like Yvonne wanted her relationship with Warren to move at a faster pace. I felt myself siding with Warren because she was underage. Though the age difference was not extreme, it seemed that Yvonne disregarded it for the sake of love. I rolled my eyes…but this was not as bad as The Beau and The Belle by R.S. Grey, a book that I had several issues with…
Yvonne was happy in her relationship despite not being official. When she and Warren hang out in Venice Beach, she finds herself completely and utterly drawn by a street musician named Omar. Despite being in a complicated relationship with Warren, she falls completely head over heels for Omar. A major issue I had with this book was the cheating aspect. Yvonne does get into a major fight with Warren because he chose to work on her birthday, and she reacts by destroying the birthday cake that Warren bought her. Yvonne also seeks out Omar, and considers hanging out with him…DESPITE NOT KNOWING THE GUY!
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The story tried to establish a love triangle, but it was lame. I felt uncomfortable with how Yvonne was seeing Omar, while she had her fight with Warren. Yvonne lies about her relationship status to both men. Instead of being rational and calling her relationship off with Warren, she peruses each man. I fully did not trust Omar, he seemed a bit shady…but instead of getting to know Omar, she has sex with him on her first official date with him. It does not help that she continues seeing Warren, and has sex with him a week after she has had sex with Omar. I assumed that she was going to get pregnant by Omar, but I was surprised. As mentioned previously, her pregnancy does not play a major role in this book. NOR WILL YOU FIND OUT WHO THE REAL FATHER IS!
Literally, this book was about Finding Yvonne, and how she was going to deal with her relationships, ambitions, and career choices. I was not the biggest fan of Yvonne because she did have several immature moments. In my opinion, she manipulated both guys. I knew Omar was shady, which did end up being true. Yvonne goes through minimal growth. It seems that she is used to getting praises all the time. For example, growing up she received praises for her violin skills, and then as a teen, she thrived off praises for her baking skills. I really wanted Yvonne to be an awesome character. The only character that I liked by far was her best friend Sabine. Sabine was looking out for her friend, and even warned Yvonne that she could be potentially used. Sabine was supportive, and dealt with Yvonne’s unnecessary drama and antics. Kudos to Sabine for being the true MVP of this book.
Final Rating: ⭐⭐
Publication Date: August 7th 2018

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)

 

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…

commentary

“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: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️