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 Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

the darkest corners

goodreads-synopsis

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

commentary

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas was possibly the book with  the slowest buildup to a plot. The story revolves around Tessa, a teen who lives with her grandmother in Florida. She is forced to return to her old hometown because her father in prison is dying. Almost a decade ago, Tessa was abandon by her mother. Left with no relatives in Pennsylvania, her grandmother takes her out of state, and away from her best friend Callie. Tessa did not have a normal childhood growing up. Her father was arrested, her sister may have possibly been involved with a murder, and her mother had abandoned her.

When Callie’s cousin Lorrie is murdered by a high profiled murderer, Tessa and Callie help incriminate Wyatt Stokes into jail. Tessa has felt the guilt over the case as she grew up. She is still effected by the case, and looks to forums to see what people are talking about it on the internet. When she returns back to Fayette, Tessa is forced to confront her past, and people she has left behind.

It was difficult to trust characters due to several red herrings! I listened to this book as an audiobook. I have to say, that the premise of the story was interesting, but I felt that the pacing took forever. It was slow, but the buildup to the story and the crazy events that unfolded was the best aspect of the book. Yes, there were many twists that I did not see coming. I was gagged!

One issue I had was connecting with the characters. It felt like Tessa had a detached personality. There was something about her personality that threw me off. She did try reconnecting with people from her past, but I didn’t get emotions from her. I am basing this on what I heard on audio form rather than reading the physical book.

This book did get dark, and I liked the many characters that seemed unreliable. I liked that the mystery behind the murders did not get resolved till the very end. It was enjoyable, but I wished that I were able to really get into this book, especially concerning Tessa. The friendship between Callie and Tessa was possibly the best part of this book. It was presented as a fragile, and broken. Callie and Tessa were completely different individuals, but most of all, Tessa failed to realize how much Callie was broken. Solving the murders of the Ohio River Monster brought the girls together. It was good. If you are looking for romance in this book, there is none.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3 1/2)

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

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)

 

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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ARC: Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

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goodreads-synopsis

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…commentary

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

In Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Witches series, Alex was the original protagonist. The black sheep of the family due to not having magic like her sisters. After the events of the first book, the point of view shifts to Lula Mortiz, the eldest sister of the family. In Labyrinth Lost, Lula was a confident witch with healing powers, but she undergoes a transformation in which she “loses” herself. Though this book deals with Lula, I love the maturity Alex gained from her experiences with Los Lagos. She seems more mature than the previous book. It is a shame that this book did not include a lot of Alex and Rishi moments.

As much as I loved Labyrinth Lost, I completely fell in love with Bruja Born. This book is about the process of healing for Lula because of her scars, both mentally and emotionally. Lula has found herself in a dark place, and only she can get herself. What I loved about this book is that Lula had an encouraging support system of her sisters and family that loved her even when she didn’t feel like herself. This is a beautiful journey of self discovery especially after losing her dearest boyfriend and the events of Los Lagos. Lula no longer feels joy and her connection to magic has severely changed. She is also learning to adjust to having her father back into her life after disappearing for many years. What I really loved about Lula is that she was raw, emotional, and mostly flawed. The author does not present a special snowflake, but rather someone relatable. It’s refreshing to read about realistic characters rather than Mary Sue type characters. She makes a lot of mistakes, along the way, but it serves to improve herself for the best. I could relate to Lula’s experiences of re-experiencing self love. The author portrayed Lula’s emptiness so realistically despite being a work of fiction.

One of my favorite lines in the book. This shows the sass and the protection Lula has for her sister Alex:

You really think I’m going to betray my sister for you? Boy, bye.

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Though the setting takes place in Brooklyn, magic plays a heavy element to this sequel. New lore is introduced in this urban fantasy such as casi muertos (neither living or completely dead, somewhere in between. Others would say they are similar to zombies), vampires, and witch hunters. Magic is always has a price. Lula learns this the hard way. Resurrecting the dead is not possible, even with Lula’s healing magic. She gains a new ability, but pays the ultimate price. The stakes are really high in this book. I loved the action scenes, and the magical alliance between different magical folks. This book presented a showdown and really delivered! I really hope that the author continues this series. I would love to see the Mortiz sisters once again. And I hope that Rose gets a perspective too!

Rating: 4.5

ARC: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

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goodreads-synopsis

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

commentaryHey guys, it has been nearly a year since I last wrote a book review. Sounds crazy? I know. I’ve been busy with my undergrad education and I occasionally read on the side, but didn’t have enough time to read as I used to. My finals are over, and I am attempting my first book review of the year. I have been reading a lot more, and felt inspired to write once again.

My good friend had an extra copy of Furyborn by Claire Legrand that she recieved in the Fairyloot Novemeber 2017 box. I traded her a couple books for it because I was highly looking forward to reading Furyborn. For my list of 2018 books, Furyborn was high on my list. I took Furyborn to the Philippines spring break vacation, but I never managed to pick it up. Returning to the States, and readjusting to my school schedule, I manange to find time to read Furyborn.

Darn it! I was hoping that Furyborn was going to have a lot of action and kickass female protagonists, but I am highly disappointed with what I read. Actually, extremely disappointed. I wanted to drop the book so badly.

What went wrong? Despite the prologue being the best written chapter in the book, it gave so many spoilers away! Especially concerning Rielle. The book is about two prophecized queens. One queen is told to bring destruction, whereas the other queen is the opposite. The prologue lets the reader know that Rielle is the Blood Queen. I wanted some buildup to this story. It sucks that as a reader, you know that Rielle becomes the queen to bring destruction to the world. In addition, the prologue gave away the connection Rielle has with Eliana despite the two characters living in two different time periods.

Which storyline was better? In Furyborn, there are two storylines to follow. One is Rielle and the past events that led to the decline of magic. She undergoes trials to prove that she is the Sun Queen, but you would already know that she becomes the Blood Queen. Reading her chapters were a bit frustrating because you know the fate of Rielle. You know that she will pass the trials and betray her people. I wanted to skip her chapters. Finally, the villain was revealed in the prologue! THERE WAS NO BUILDUP TO THIS STORY.  When it comes to Rielle, she is easily manipulated by those around her. She has the ability of all 7 powers in her kingdom. When Rielle starts hearing voices, she accepts doesn’t question it! Rielle converses with the voice in her head that happens to be a guy who she doesn’t know. Instead of worrying about her mental state, she falls in love with the voice…and converses with her new voice…and seeks advice from this voice…never having met this person….ugh. The story presents a frustrating love triangle in which Rielle is stuck between loving her childhood friend Prince Audric, and the voice in her head, Corien…I hated this love triangle so badly. 

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When it comes to Eliana’s pov, she was a frustrating character as well. She is known as The Dread of Orline. Eliana is supposed to be a badass assassin, but the story presents a character with wishy washy mentality. It was hard understanding the plot of Eliana’s chapters. I can’t take Eliana seriously. At least, I was spared from reading about a tedious love triangle. But once again, this story is filled with insta-love. The guy characters are not well developed. Prince Audric was okay. He was understanding of Rielle, and never questioned her motives. As for Simon, you find out who he is in the prologue as well. I would have placed the prologue near the end of the book to have a shocking revelation, but I guess that there is more to be told about Rielle later on in the series…

What Furyborn lack was introducing the folklore of the land. Angels are the villains of the book, and they have been locked behind a gate. But you don’t know what they did? This book hardly mentions the mythology, which would have been a great addition. I would have rated this book higher if I need more details about the angels. As for the magic system, everyone gets their power from the empirium, which is not explained. I’ll assume its an omnipresent power activator or a god that existed in the world. Where was the world buidling in this book? The stakes were high, but I did not find myself attached to the charactesrs.  Furyborn was a hot mess for me, and it is such as shame. The cover is gorgeous, the synoposis sounded amazing, but the delivery was not there. As for other books in the series, I might check out the following book to see what happens. Hopefully the author improves the story, but you can only hope.

The Gods Lie by Kaori Ozaki

Natsuru Nanao, a 6th grader who lives alone with his mother, strikes up an unlikely friendship with the reserved and driven Rio Suzumura. Natsuru plays hookey from soccer camp that summer, and instead of telling the truth to his mother, he spends all his time with Rio and her kid brother at their rickety house, where a dark secret threatens to upend their fragile happiness.

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I kept seeing this manga being advertised on my Amazon recommendations, and I decided to check it out. I read this manga in under an hour. I do recommend checking out the The Gods Lie from the library rather than buying it.

When it came to The Gods Lie, I was captivated by the cover and the title. The title is what drew me in. I did not anticipate finishing the manga in less than an hour. The Gods Lie felt rushed. There was not enough material for me to be satisfied. I felt that The Gods Lie could have had at least five more chapters to have a solid, well rounded story that could have been memorable for readers.

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What I liked from reading The Gods Lie was the unlikely romance between Natsuru Nanao and Rio Suzumura. I felt that there relationship was cute, but I did not like that how rushed the romance was given this manga was five chapters long. So the romance was very fast paced for me. It felt as if they became friends and suddenly they fell in love with each other. I also liked that The Gods Lie dealt with maturity, especially for Rio Suzumara’s case. Rio had to be the adult in her family despite being a pre-teen. While her classmates were enjoying their youth, Rio had to be an adult. She had to tackle the responsibilities that were literally thrown to her. In addition, Rio and her younger brother had to deal with abandonment from their father. Rio had to be both mother and father to her younger brother without the help from any other relative. At the same time, Natsuru learns about Rio’s situation and becomes her protector. Natsuru learns to love Rio despite their differences.

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As for the twist, I did see it coming. The manga does give small hints about the twist. So when it was revealed, it was sad but not shocking to say the least. The ending had a hopeful ending for the protagonists. T Originally I was going to rate The Gods Lie a four out of five, but after much thought this manga is a solid three.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

DNF: The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice

Here are three things to know about Maia:

1. Ever since her mother left, Maia’s struggled with depression — which once got so bad, she had to go to an institution for a while. She doesn’t want to go back.

2. Maia’s sure that if she finds her mother, if the two of them can talk about whale songs and constellations, then everything will be okay again.

3. She’s in love with Billy, the handsome, brooding boy who lives in the group home in town. He doesn’t seem to know that Maia exists… until now.

When Maia sets off on a road trip in search of her mom, Billy unexpectedly comes along. They drive up the East Coast, stopping along the way for lobster rolls and lighthouses. Maia learns that Billy has dark secrets of his own — and wants to outrun his past, too. But what will the future hold if they reach their destination?

From internationally bestselling author Luanne Rice, this is a sweeping, stunning story about the surprising directions our hearts can take.

When I picked up The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice, I was totally judging the book by the cover. I had a feeling that I would not like the book, but I gave it a chance. You can’t judge every book based on the cover, no matter how cheesy the book looks. My gut was right, I did not like the book. I am baffled. Honestly baffled because The Beautiful Lost has positive reviews on Goodreads. I guess my review will be controversial because I haven’t seen any negative reviews for this book.

What I liked about the book is that it did a good job at portraying abandonment issues that both Maia and Billy faced. That’s about it. What killed the book experience for me was the way depression was handled. Honestly hated how Maia would say her depression was gone because of her love interest Billy. I couldn’t believe what I had read. Nope, nope, nope. I had to put my book down, there’s no way that I can continue to read The Beautiful Lost. I don’t even want to know how the book ended. I tried reading it, but it was frustrating. Besides the story being cheesy, the romance was very instantaneous.

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Maia is a girl who has depression and even though her father and step-mother try to help her with her depression, she only blames her new step-mother. Maia misses her mother, and may I add that Maia’s mother only contacts her daughter by snail mail. The book is set in the present. The mom doesn’t reach out to her daughter. Maia’s mother left her family, and has left Maia with an emptiness in her heart. Maia desperately wants her mother back. She runs away from home in order to be with her mother. This aspect of the story I loved, but the romance was such a buzzkill for me.

I hated how there had to be a love interest. Couldn’t Billy just be a really good friend to Maia? The love interest that wasn’t fully developed even though they had a whole road trip to connect and learn about each other. I would have loved a greater emphasis on Maia’s issues and her growth as a person rather than force the reader to enjoy a contemporary love story. I tried to sympathize with Maia, but I am not on board with her romance. Now you may be wondering why I am against this story’s romance.  How did they even get together, you might be wondering. Well, Maia has never really talked to Billy at school. Billy is the mysterious teen attending the same school as Maia. Maia is completely head over heels in love with Billy. When Maia runs away, she stops in front of Billy’s residence. And what does he do? Billy runs away with her even though he doesn’t know her either! That’s a bit weird for me. I see Billy as a stranger because they aren’t even friends. How the heck are you going to let a stranger be with you on a trip? How? I get that Billy is Maia’s crush, but it feels gross for me .The story could have at least focused on some type of friendly relationship between Maia and Billy prior to the road trip. There is no established acquaintanceship between Maia and Billy, and both characters decide to take a trip together. Yeah, no thanks. Will I give The Beautiful Lost another chance? No.


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Final Rating: ⭐️