REVIEW & TOP REC: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Folk of the Air Book One

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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 years old 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.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

Enigmatic and bold, The Cruel Prince was a gripping fantasy novel about three sisters growing up in the land of Faerie with the man who killed their parents. Brimming with complex characters and political conspiracies, the story played out in a dramatic fashion from beginning to end. The writing–skilled in engulfing the reader into the world and in keeping a suspenseful plot–grew upon itself with each new chapter and made it impossible to put down.

Jude was an unusual leading character; a flawed heroine shaped by her environment but daringly unapologetic in her need to fight back. She was a product of a decade spent proving her worth to a guardian and kingdom that represented the destruction of the life she once knew, and yet for a girl who wanted nothing but to belong, her journey to finding it would take everything she has. With each sister having chosen a different path in coping with the difficulties of being mortal in an immortal land, their paths converged to a tension-filled crescendo that changed the entire game and then kept on giving.

As the first in a planned trilogy, The Cruel Prince not only laid the groundwork for more, but had enough development and action to feel like a full story on its own. Heroines like Jude don’t frequent fiction often, but when they do, their stories cannot help but stick with you. And though the romance aspect was slight, I’m anxious for how it’ll blossom as the story continues. Black’s masterful storytelling created an enchanting read, one that I cannot wait for more of.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest. She has been a a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.

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REVIEW & EXCERPT w/ GIVEAWAY: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

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“Doesn’t matter who did it. Not anymore. I did the time. It’s over.”

When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve.

Order SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME, register and you will receive AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER, a novella that features your favorite Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road characters!  From the Pushing the Limits series, Noah, Beth, Isaiah, West and Logan are all grown up. Catch up with your favorite characters as one of them finally says, I do. Pigpen, Eli and Addison from the Thunder Road series: Three separate personalities who still needed to find love…and still had someone important to meet. This is a limited time offer! So hurry! Registration ends on February 3, 2018! You must register your order to receive AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. ENTERhttps://a.pgtb.me/4tLZSM

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

With it’s enchanting forbidden romance and perfectly imperfect cast of teenage characters, Say You’ll Remember Me finds incredible balance between self discovery and wants of the heart. McGarry has always had the ability to flesh out and make vivid the painful miring of injustice with redeemable characters, and again manages to add another layer with this particular tale of two opposites attracting, the convict and the governor’s daughter.

Aside from the obvious angst involved with two characters from starkly different backgrounds, both Drix and Elle have a connection that transcends the physical nature of attraction and extends into their empty emotional wells. The boy of nothing and the girl of everything are intrinsically intertwined by the lack of unconditional love and support in their lives and find that safe place in one another. Most beguiling was the character of Drix; a young man with a heartbreaking upbringing and many harmful setbacks, but even with all odds stacked against him, his inner spirit was carved on these pages. I could feel the unjustness, the constant struggle to keep getting back up, and every step forward he had to fight tooth and nail for when the weight was, at most times, unbearable to push against, and my heart bled for this boy. The most evocative element of this story was him and how beautifully he was penned. But I would be remiss to not mention the quiet and hidden pain Elle suffered in her plush life, how it shaped her, and how greatly I felt for her too. I very much enjoyed delving into two very different worlds, ones so contrasting but producing the same unfortunate effect on these two teens, and watching them find solace in one another.

There are some books you read that excite and feed the butterflies in your stomach, and Say You’ll Remember Me was one of them. There aren’t words to explain how deeply I fell for their love story, how easily I became a part of it, and how beautifully it grew with every page turn. And though it was slow in some parts, it did not lessen the effect of this story and its characters. With an authentic depiction of the true angst of teenage self-discovery, it’s a story that can easily feel as if it’s yours.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

~Hendrix~

Holiday smacks my arm and wrath owns her eyes. “Why didn’t you talk to her?”

I glance around at my family—Axle, Holiday, my best friend, Dominic, and his younger sister, Kellen.  I’m searching for at least one of them to have my back and tell her to step off, but instead they’re curious for the answer. Even Axle’s giving me a questioning gaze, and the last thing my womanizing brother deserves is an explanation from me in my decisions regarding women.

Last time I was home, his reputation was as bad as Dad’s, minus the progeny. There are three siblings in this family, and we have three different birth mothers. Dad not only didn’t know how to use a condom, but he didn’t know how to stay true to one woman.

“I talked to her.”

My younger sister throws her arms out and drops her voice to what I’m assuming is to mimic me, but I don’t sound like an idiot. “You’re good at this.” She resumes her normal tone which is entering high-pitched. “Seriously? That’s all you’ve got? Did you get some sort of amoeba that eats your brain while hanging out in juvie?”

I fold my arms over my chest and wonder if my sister can read pissed-off body language.

“You can still catch the girl and talk to her,” Holiday continues, proving she doesn’t care I’m silently informing her to quit. “Don’t make me chase her for you because that would be embarrassing. Embarrassing for you. Not me. I’ll have to tell her you sent me, and because you’re a wuss, I’ll have to ask her out for you like we’re in sixth grade.”

I find myself missing the middle of nowhere. Trees, bonfires, mosquitos, mud, bears…. company that didn’t talk.

“She’s out of my league.” I haven’t spoken truer words in months. She was beautiful. She was poised. She was a cool breeze after a hot humid rain. She was that first ray of sunshine in the dark woods. She was the smell of honeysuckle in bloom. She was the first damn thing that made me forget who I am and what I’ve gotten myself into over the past year. That means she was out of my league.

Granted, she was out of my league before I was arrested. Everything from her manicured nails, to her brand-name clothes, to her high-end purse, to the way she held herself said she was about a hundred times higher on the social and economic spectrum than me, but the person I was before would have made the play because I was smooth—just like my father.

“She is not out of your league.” Holiday hounds me. “She smiled at you. I know when a girl likes what she sees, and she liked what she saw in you.”

Tension builds in my neck. Yeah, the girl smiled, but she didn’t know what she was smiling at. I’m a pretty façade on the outside. On the inside, I’m a house of cards teetering on a bad foundation.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Katie McGarry Author Photo

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

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♦GIVEAWAY♦

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REVIEW: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Unearthed Book One

Young Adult

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When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

 

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

Filled with heart-pounding action & adventure and two engaging characters, Unearthed felt like a wonderful sci-fi version of a mash-up of Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider and Drake’s Uncharted video games in written form. If you’re not a gamer and don’t understand the reference, think of a race to save humanity paired with extraterrestrial landscape that is covered with deadly puzzles to solve and an entire cast of shifty characters. And what I adored most was that slow-to-build connection and attraction that was mired with secrets, distrust, and personal agendas between Jules and Amelia as they embarked on this adventure together.

With two main characters after entirely different objectives but pushed into working together due to outside circumstances, their dynamic fueled the pace of the story; their trajectories, so dissimilar but mockingly on the same path, led to a lovely push-pull between them that not only amplified their attraction and differing paths, but also the obstacles affecting their journey. They were each humanly-flawed people, but likable from the instant they came onto the page; both unlikely characters to get along–let alone race together across a strange planet fighting the planet itself and other scavengers–the fun was in watching them battle that growing tension. Amelia’s hardened personality blossomed as the journey grew on, and complemented the naivete of bookish Jules so well. With everything pushing them together and then instantly pulling them apart along with the ever-expanding mystery of the planet and its secrets, it became an un-put-down-able story very quickly. Amie and Meagan found a brilliant way to weave romance in a complex tale, keeping the relationship’s path just as tumultuous as the answer to the final puzzle.

Yet it wasn’t just a story about Amelia and Jules’ wants and needs nor that of the other scavvers, but rather the subtly and carefully placed reference to the real-life issue of our footprint on Earth and the consequences of misuse–a thought-provoking and clever plot point for a story. The writing was seamless, the story full of surprises, and I am left with a bevy of unanswered questions and guesses for the direction of the story that I am absolutely excited to have answered with the second, and final, installment of the series. Boldly inspiring and wonderfully plotted, Unearthed was a crazy thrill ride from start to finish.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHORS♦

Amie Kaufman is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of young adult fiction. Her multi-award winning work has been published in 30 countries, and described as “a game-changer” (Shelf Awareness), “stylistically mesmerising” (Publishers Weekly) and “out-of-this-world awesome” (Kirkus). Her work includes the Starbound Trilogy (co-authored with Meagan Spooner) and The Illuminae Files (co-authored with Jay Kristoff), as well as her new series Unearthed and Elementals. Raised in Australia and Ireland, Amie has degrees in history, literature, law and conflict resolution. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, their rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.

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Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

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FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2017

I cannot believe another year has ended, and another pile of books is in our pasts. Listed below are 14 of my top favorites, ones that really stuck with me long after the last page was turned; they made me cry, pulled at my heart, or simply affected me in a way that I fell so very much in love. I read so many amazing books over the year that it was difficult to narrow them down to list that was just under 10% of what I read over the year (and you’ll see that a couple of authors stole more than one top spot), but I think you’ll see why these made the cut though. And please tell me yours in the comments! Mine are listed in no particular order.

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne — I’m not one for holiday-themed novels, usually, but when LL does it I apparently go gaga over it. It read like a Hallmark movie (a steamy one) with a young woman going back to all of her exes, over Christmas break, after a woman with sight tells her that she had already met her one true love. The heroine had such flare with her superstitions and love for mistletoe that she was truly wonderful to connect to, and all of the angst with the one who got away was titillating and downright delicious.  LL writes great chemistry with her characters in all of her books, but there was truly something special about these two that hit me in the gut and still, quite honestly, hasn’t left me.


Read my Review of An Ex for Christmas

The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan — This book was top-notch friends-to-lovers romance. Everything about it ticked every little box to make it great in every aspect. The dynamic between Chess and Finn was orchestrated perfectly, making that escalation of friends to more wholly believable. Add the aspect of roommates and you’ve got the angst factor up by a thousand points. I spent a majority of this novel with butterflies in my stomach and a buzz all over my body watching them slowly circle around what’s lurking between them. And let me tell you, you’ll swoon hard for quarterback Finn’s sensitive side because it was the only side he had when it came to the woman he was desperately falling for.



Read my Review of The Hot Shot

The Darkest Sunrise & The Brightest Sunset (a Duet) by Aly Martinez — This fast-paced and heart-pounding duet completely blew my mind when I first read them. The twists were aplenty and they ripped me to shreds with each word. To see the devastating long-term effects of a mother whose child was kidnapped was brutal, but watching her finally find love in her life was sorrowfully sweet. I’ve never read two books so fast, and it’s all because of Martinez’s method of relaying the story to us; perfectly pacing each element and miring it all in heartbreak and irony and pain and sorrow. Probably one of the most emotionally devastating reads of the year.

Read my Review of The Darkest Sunrise
Read my Review of The Brightest Sunset

Royally Matched & Royally Endowed (Royally Series Books 2 & 3) by Emma Chase — I can’t say it’s a surprise that Chase followed the greatness of the first book, Royally Screwed, with equal greatness in the next two books of the series. Matched had a very big Prince Harry vibe to it that just absolutely did it for me. Prince Henry’s playfulness and wit, when mixed with bookish Sarah’s matching wit, was both hilarious and incredibly angsty. I loved the idea of a Royal Game Show to find him someone special, and what he would do if he found it early in someone he never expected. And to shake things up, Endowed went in a bit of a different direction and gave us the royal family’s loyal bodyguards’ love story, Logan and the younger sister of the heroine from the first book, Ellie. Their romance had the wonderful angst of a man who repeatedly denies harboring feelings for her because of her age until it hits a beautiful crescendo of two people who cannot pretend any longer. Chase does it again.

Read my Review of Royally Matched
Read my Review of Royally Endowed

Follow by Tessa Bailey — I’m constantly wondering how Tessa can write such provocative stories and not tell the same sort of story twice, but I won’t wonder too hard because I’m just happy she keeps pulling it off. Follow was her first self-pubbed novel, but it felt like pure Tessa Bailey. The characters were engaging, the plot had depth, and the raw, guttural nature of attraction and sexual connection were ever-present. Two characters coming together under fall pretenses, both whom are unwilling to trust but also unable to deny the extreme chemistry they share, led to an explosive romance that pulled heavily on steamy but also delved deep into the wells of emotion. I was a hot mess reading it, and I can still remember every moment of them showing their true selves, just in the slightest bit, to each other and how each crack in their walls led to a wonderful bareness of self.

Read my Review of Follow

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare — The only historical romance on my list, The Duchess Deal instantly became a favorite of the year even before I finished it. I can’t seem to let the story go, I can’t seem to stop telling my friends to read it even if they say they don’t like historical, and I could honestly re-read it already. Yes, it’s a historical, but the beauty of Tessa Dare is that she feels very contemporary in her writing and she blends the two genres so well that even for someone who doesn’t read a lot of historical, such as myself, can be easily sucked into it. With a marriage of convenience between the Duke of Ashbury, a scarred and broken veteran, and Emma, a skilled seamstress, one would think it was like any other with this trope, but it was so much more. Emma had so much gumption and conviction that Ashbury truly had no chance of keeping things to the pre-specified contract, and watching their hilarious back-and-forth’s along with his late night adventures, oh it was fun and steamy all the way through. Probably the best historical romance I’ve read in a long, long time.

Read my Review for The Duchess Deal

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren — I loved this book so much I based an entire 8-page literary essay on it. This is a story based on seventeen year old Tanner’s life of moving with his family to Provo, Utah, a city very much inhabited by those of Mormon faith, and his struggle with putting his bisexuality back in the closet. But his falling for the college-aged Mormon prodigy Sebastian, who tutors his novel writing class, is met with contention due to Seb’s religion and the pressures of society. What was most awe-inspiring about this novel was that Christina Lauren created such strong pillars of support with the way that Tanner’s family accepted his bisexuality. With so many teens struggling to accept their true selves, this is the kind of novel that all parents should read because it touched on how important love and support from your family and friends is to mental stability and sense of self. The romance between the two, often tumultuous, played out with just the right amount of resistance and tension, never once feeling shallow or predictable. Truly a powerfully hard-hitting novel that everyone should read.

Read my Review of Autoboyography

Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey — Again, Tessa Bailey hit it out of the park with the first book in this new series. And it may have the best meet-cute I’ve ever read. Charlie was unlike any of Bailey’s heroes in that he was a more bit sensitive, for lack of a better word. He wasn’t one to hide behind bravado or worry about appearing a certain way, he just was who he was. And he was a man desperately in love, without actually knowing it, with the woman who only allowed connections with a guy for a very short amount of time. His antics to find a way back in with her are beyond hilarious and heartwarming that you can’t help but lovingly shake your head at him. And Ever was so powerfully unapologetic with her needs and views on things that her uniqueness pulled at me. Altogether it was an amazing story and went so much deeper than expected.


Read my Review of Disorderly Conduct

The Farthest Edge by Kristen Ashley — In a series that goes beyond the typical nature of erotica, The Farthest Edge bridged the gap between erotica with Domme’s & submissive alphas and the typical beauty of a KA love story. I loved the first book, but what stuck with me about this one was that it felt entirely more personal. Branch and Evangeline’s story was steeped in personal hangups and emotional setbacks that ignited their coming together. It was such a delicate love story to be told and I felt everything deep in my gut, and it was just so damn beautiful. It took me forever to find words for why this novel hit me so hard, and I still don’t think they do the book justice. This felt like vintage KA, just with a very kinky side to it that somehow made it even more like what I know and love from her writing.


Read my Review of The Farthest Edge

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre — One of my only non-romances of the list, The Ghostwriter was an unbelievably emotional novel. With a dying author who has one last story to write, her own, Torre builds a story around Helena’s journey to finding a ghostwriter to help her pen the novel before she passes, and the harrowing tale she has to tell. The words to describe this novel are limited simply because of how much of a presence it has. The sadness, the loneliness, the irony and despair in this story are starkly vivid and I sobbed. I sobbed so hard, and felt so deeply for this woman and her story. Torre beautifully captured a pretty unlikable character with glaring flaws and many shortcomings and made her so real, so possible, that readers could become her, feel loss for her, and accept her for who she is. The mystery of her past and the effects it had on her were perfectly fit into the story and made it an absolute page-turner. I couldn’t put it down and I can still feel it, everything it brought up in me, and I don’t think that’ll leave me for a long time.

Read my Review of The Ghostwriter

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry — Lost Boy is not a re-telling but an origin story for why Hook is the way he is, and why he and Peter Pan have the rivalry they do. I have a soft spot for Hook, mainly because of the television series Once Upon a Time and Colin O’Donoghue (who wouldn’t, I mean look at him), and couldn’t open this novel fast enough to explore a unique perspective on an oft-hated character. Henry’s story is brutal and vicious but so skillfully portrayed the characters to their end points. Based around Hook and Pan being as close as brothers after the years that had passed since Pan brought him to the island, there’s a slow but steady descent into the tyrannical madness of Pan, and Hook’s eventual inner conflict of protecting the other Lost Boys or blindly following a boy he once deeply cared for. While there is little romance in the traditional sense, the love between these non-blood brothers of the Lost Boys and Hook’s friendship with Pan is in abundance. Both adventurous and unputdownable, I adored this origin story.

Read my Review of Lost Boy

The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren — While this is technically a 2018 release (January 2nd, to be exact), I figure it’s close enough to the end of 2017 that I can slip it in to my favorites of this year since I read it in December. It’s been a few short weeks since I finished this book, but I can’t seem to let it go. Based around a small group of survivors from a school shooting, they’re all brought back together again years later to be a part of a documentary based on their ordeal. As a second-chance romance, it hits every emotional point regarding chemistry and tension that it should, but the added layer of such a traumatic situation connecting them brings a sharper point to their connection. It’s more raw, more powerful, and equally as emotional considering their falling apart was not on the best of terms. What I loved most was that Loren made this more than a romance by easily capturing the true, long-term effects of trauma on a person’s psychological and mental states. How do two people who’ve experienced something harrowing find that connection when the people they were before have vanished? Their journey to living again, to loving again, was magnetic and I couldn’t put it down. I already know it’ll stick with me for months to come.

Read my Review of The Ones Who Got Away

 

And that’s my list. Let me know if any of these affected you in the same way, and tell me know your Top Reads below or tag me in your posts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

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