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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