The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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She’s looking around the forest, as though if she can prove it isn’t magic, then nothing else is, either. Which is stupid. All forests are magic.

This book. It hurt in all the ways.

This my first Holly Black book and I’ve seen so much hype for it that I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I mean, I love the fey and YA fantasy so how could I not?

There was so much I loved about it. The fey world and human world mashup was amazing. All the different races and their nuances and magic. The rules and foods and enchantments. I just could not get enough. I loved the writing, and the twists, and overall it was a great book.

However…I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the next one.

Despite all the things I loved about it, I read YA fantasy because to me, it’s escapism. It feels good, like I’ve lived alongside it with the characters.

But in this book? Nothing felt good. It was just so damn bleak. All the relationships between the characters were strained, if not full on disdain/hate. When the few good things were happening, I knew they were lies/manipulations. Every chapter I had a bad feeling that something was going to get worse – and it always did. I mean come on, not ONE real positive friendship in the whole book.

This is just a personal thing, though. I know tons of people love to GET ALL THE FEELS, even if they’re depressing. However, that’s not me. I have enough of that in real life to spend my time being sad in my imaginary life. It’s why fairy-tales are my jam. I can count on them to bring me the hope and warm fuzzies at the end, despite the war/sacrifice/death in the middle. I’m currently reading Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf and that’s WAY more up my alley than this one.

Overall, I’m glad I read it just to have it under my belt, and I would recommend it for readers who like YA teen drama but with fey high school instead of human.

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Everless by Sara Holland

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I couldn’t help loving this book. For me, it was Feyre from ACOTAR transported to a fantasy-style In Time (the Justin Timberlake movie) and it was so cool. There was a ton of mystery and intriguing characters and twists I didn’t see coming.

And the writing – I loved the writing! It kills me when I go on Goodreads after reading a book I loved and see that the low reviews cite writing as a negative. Not just because I disagree, but because it shows to me that no matter how I write my books, half the readers will find my prose insufferable. And it hurts. It makes me not want to write. I know you can’t please everyone, but when it comes to ‘this is amazing!’ and ‘this is terrible!’ there has to be some sort of middle ground, right?

Apparently not.

Anyway, this book had your standard enemies-to-lovers trope, which I didn’t mind because the guy wasn’t actually an asshole. It’s true that this is my favorite genre and so I’m biased, but if YA fantasy is your jam, you’ll enjoy this book.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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I have three words for this book: suspension of disbelief.

As long as you have that (and like the genre) you’ll enjoy it.

I liked the story itself. I liked the writing, and the characters, and the world. That cover is amazing too. I liked the love triangle and the surprising amount of deaths throughout. Most of the things that bothered other reviewers on Goodreads I didn’t mind.

However, throughout the whole thing I just could not believe that Mare could tell the world that she didn’t know she was Silver blooded for her entire life. Like…do periods not exist in that world? And then they kept putting her in positions where she was about to bleed? I just…I had to force myself NOT to think about it to enjoy the book.

And then there’s Silvers who can control minds. Do they not have safeguards against those kinds of powers? You know, in case one of them KILLS ANYONE THEY WANT? There’s no freaking way those people would be allowed in positions of power like that.  In ACOTAR I could believe it because there was a way to fight the control. But here? It’s just silly to let these guys roam free and manipulate whoever they want.

I understand that there has to be some things you just have to take as is, and when my disbelief is set aside it’s actually an enjoyable read. I won’t be picking up the next one, but I’m glad I read this book to get a better feel for good antagonists.

Overall it was a good read that I’m glad to have finally crossed off my shelf.

The Genius Plague by David Walton

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I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I saw the author’s AMA on Reddit. I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but the premise was too intriguing to pass up: a fungi infection can make you super-smart, but it also takes over your mind and affects your actions to ensure its survival. It’s a symbiotic relationship, except for the fact that you can’t control how you feel about things like killing people when they want to give you antifungals.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read. It played out like any apocalypse movie, where you just don’t ask questions and enjoy it for what it is. Action and thrills and *insert charismatic white male actor* protagonist you can’t not like. A fun book that brings up some really interesting concepts.

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The Princess Game by Melanie Cellier

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Every cover for this series is freaking beautiful. Just wow. I can’t get enough of them.

The story had a great twist on the original that made me read this before any of the others. The Sleeping Princess isn’t actually asleep, the curse just makes it so she acts like a dimwit instead of the intelligent young woman that she is.

Unless she’s in disguise that is.

I just loved this idea, and while I enjoyed the plot and the romance, I found myself skimming more and more until I was turning pages with barely a glance. There was just too much hanging around and talking and not enough to keep me interested. I just wanted to know what happens!

Anyway, it really was a great twist, and anyone who likes retellings would enjoy this book. I’m excited for The Little Mermaid and The Swan Princess coming out this year. Yes please!

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

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Look at this cover! So pretty! So symbolic! I love it!

The book itself was … odd? I’ve been thinking of a word to describe how I feel about it and I’m still not sure if I got the right one.

In Perfected, girls are genetically engineered to be sold as pets to the rich. In a dystopian world, I wouldn’t bat an eye. But here, it was actually our world. o_0 We’re talking modern USA, with people calling it slavery and Canada taking in refugees. Somehow, a bunch of rich guys got legislation passed that made it legal, even though there’s no actual explanation as to -how- the girls aren’t slaves. There are a ton of conversations like this:

Person1: It’s slavery!

Person2: No it’s not! They’re pets!

Person1: No, they’re people!

Person2: No, they’re pets! Aren’t they so pretty?

Person1: WTF!

Person3: Yeah, you’re right, they’re so pretty I want one too now! Totes ok!

No actual argument against the girls being human or how it’s not slavery, just calling them pets and that’s that, with old rich guys getting boners by looking at them. I genuinely don’t get it.

Honestly, this entire issue could have been circumvented with the girls being built instead of bred. If they were AI lifelike robots like in Human, this whole book would have been fantastic, no immense suspension of disbelief required.

Anyway, I did enjoy reading it though. I liked the romance, and the characters, and the story itself. The second book just came out and I might check out where it’s all going.

Overall, an interesting book, but get ready to let a lot of logistics slide for creepy old guys who want to own little girls as their playthings.

Armada by Ernest Cline

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My husband finally got around to reading Ready Player One, just in time for the movie, and he wanted to check out another book by Cline, so we both started reading (and listening) at the same time. I LOVED Ready Player One so even though I’m not huge of scifi I figured I’d like this one too.

And…I mostly enjoyed it. I love Cline’s writing, it’s so witty, and coupled with Will Wheaton’s narration it becomes just a fun ride. I could listen to him read it all day. The thing about the story is that for the first half it was so silly I kept wishing the main character would just wake up and realize it was all a dream or something. But then when it was explained and I was like ok, that actually makes sense, I really like this! it went on to follow the exact same tropes of every story like this. I even made a bet with my husband about all the things that would definitely happen and sadly I won every one of them. I didn’t want to. I wished he would subvert the tropes somehow, but no, it all laid out exactly like I thought it would.

I know a lot of people are complaining he ripped off Ender’s Game and some others, but I don’t mind the similarities. Re-tellings are my favorite genre! I don’t need a new idea, just great execution and some twists to shake it up. This had two of the three, and I’m glad I read it, especially as a gamer.

The only thing that bothered me though, is when the World of Warcraft playing mom said ‘Late for a video game’ with practically an eyeroll. Umm no. Anyone who plays WoW competitively knows that you don’t make 20+ other people wait on you because ‘it’s just a video game’. Everyone’s time matters. People make sure their work schedules and family time doesn’t fall on raid nights to be able to play, and when you can’t start a raid because someone’s not there you’re wasting that time. In my guild, that costs you your raid spot.

Anyway, a pretty good read, but it’s no Ready Player One (aaaaah I can’t wait for the movie!!!).