Book Review: The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

Book Review: The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

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Series:
The Folk of the Air #1
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 370
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book through ReadersFirst.
Rating: 5/5 stars

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.

Review

book cover (55)This is such a perfect book. I couldn’t put it down and I definitely didn’t want it to end. The Cruel Prince is the first in a new series from ‘Faerie Queen’ Holly Black, and I can totally see why she deserves that name because this book is so stunning. Books about the Fae are not something I read particularly often, though I recently read An Enchantment of Ravens and really enjoyed it. With that in mind I decided to give this a go, and boy was I not disappointed.

Jude Duarte has become my most favourite character ever. She’s a strong woman, she wants to be a knight and fend for herself and she doesn’t expect others to do the work for her. She’s brash and determined, she makes mistakes and works hard. Black portrays her so realistically and so humanly, that I could not help but love her. She’s a fantastic protagonist and it’s so exciting to watch her grow and evolve. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other amazing characters. I loved Cardan and Vivi and The Roach too.

For me what made this book really stand out was the lush, vivid settings and the plot that kept me guessing. Each character in this book has their own motives, and everyone is playing a game. I was never sure who to trust, who was being honest and who wasn’t. So many times I’ve read a book and I’ve guessed what’s going to happen, but that definitely wasn’t the case with The Cruel Prince.

The book is pretty fast-paced and there’s plenty of action and excitement to keep you on the edge of your seat. If you love faerie stories, or you’re a fan of the immensely talented Holly Black, you need to pick up this book now, you won’t regret it.
5 stars

Book Review: The Feed – Nick Clark Windo

Book Review: The Feed – Nick Clark Windo

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Release Date:
January 30th 2018
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 355
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

It makes us. It destroys us. 

The Feed is everywhere. It can be accessed by anyone, at any time. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it.

Tom and Kate use The Feed, but they have resisted addiction to it. And this will serve them well when The Feed collapses.

Until their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing.

Because how do you find someone in a world devoid of technology? And what happens when you can no longer trust that your loved ones are really who they claim to be?

Review

book cover112As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew it would be a cracking read, and I absolutely wasn’t disappointed. I read this book in two sittings on the train and just could not put it down. The Feed is brilliantly written and utterly terrifying at the same time.

The story is set in a future where our love of technology has expanded even further, all social interactions are done online in the feed, no one really talks in the real world anymore. The world over is addicted, but what happens when it goes down and people no longer know how to cope?

One of the reasons I loved this book so much was how believable it felt. We’re all already addicted to social media and this dystopian world seems inherently possible as a result. This made The Feed a really scary read, but at the same time I just couldn’t look away.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, it is just a fantastic read that I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it is set after the feed goes down as a group of people attempt to go on living without the technology they were so addicted to. The characters are all very well executed, dealing with their own grief and horror at how the world has changed. The point of view changes throughout the book and it’s a great chance to see events from different characters perspective.

The book is excellently detailed and just a wonderful read. It’s also pretty topical, hitting on not just issues around social media but the environment as well. It was really fascinating watching characters attempt to understand one another through everyday interactions because they are no longer sure how. The Feed is a tense, gripping dystopian thriller that I guarantee is going to be one to watch in 2018.
5 stars

Book Review: Stain – A. G. Howard

Book Review: Stain – A. G. Howard

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Release Date:
15th January 2019
Publisher: Abrams Books
Pages: 512
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

Review

book cover (75)This is my first book from A. G. Howard – I have always wanted to read Splintered but haven’t gotten around to it yet – so when I heard about this it immediately went on my TBR. A Gothic fairy tale retelling of The Princess and the Pea? Where do I sign up? I was completely sucked in by that beautiful cover and the synopsis. After just a few chapters I completely fell under the spell of this beautifully written book.

Stain has that gorgeous, lush fairy tale setting and it was so easy to fall into the story of Lyra. She’s a fascinating protagonist – a princess unable to speak or make a sound. I really liked seeing things from her perspective as she grows and survives the trials she has to get through. She’s a strong protagonist and it was so interesting seeing her gain more power and strength. The tale also features a whole host of supporting characters that really added to the story. Vesper was also one of my favourites. He’s the mysterious and intriguing Prince of Night and I really enjoyed the interactions between him and Lyra.

As you can imagine the story does obviously feature a romance but the romance is definitely something of a slow burn – it doesn’t have that insta-love that so many fairy tale stories do. I really liked this as it felt more natural to watch the relationship develop.

Featuring excellent world building and a whole host of lovable characters, Stain is definitely one of my new favourite reads and I’m so looking forward to reading more from A. G. Howard.
5 stars

Book Review: Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

Book Review: Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

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Release Date:
January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 358
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

Review

Where do I start with this strange, beautiful book? I have yet to read Nijkamp’s This is Where It Ends (I have now ordered it and that will soon change), but this book had a really interesting premise and sounded like a good read. After reading just a few pages I was completely sucked in, and I can safely say Before I Let Go is already a contender for my top reads of the year. (I know it’s only January, but it was so so good).

book cover (97)The book is set in this eerie, dark little town called Lost Creek in Alaska. Our main protagonist Corey grew up there but has since moved away, returned after the death of her best friend Kyra. But Lost has change in the months she’s been away, and Corey is no longer part of the community, she’s an outsider which the townspeople don’t take too kindly too. I loved this setting, it was so vividly described and such a claustrophobic and unsettling place. There were more than a few times when I felt a shiver from this cold dark landscape.

I don’t want to say too much about what happens in the story because I would hate to spoil it for anyone, but it touches on so many fascinating subjects – friendship, loyalty, belonging and mental health. It’s a fascinating book, with so many twists and turns that I absolutely didn’t see coming.

I loved Before I Let Go from start to finish – I loved the short chapters that kept my mind racing (and itching to know what was going to happen next). Nijkamp did a fantastic job building up the tension and the suspense, and some of those climax scenes I couldn’t have put the book down if the world around me was ending. The story is set over six days, but so much happens in that time. Corey was such an interesting protagonist, dealing with the grief of losing her friend, of being shunned from the community. I loved her determination, to stand up for what she thought her friend would have wanted, and to find out what really happened.

This spooky eerie thriller will have you on the edge of your seat, The beautiful vivid writing will linger in your mind longer after you’ve finished reading, and if you love a book that will keep you guessing Before I Let Go is just what you need.
5 stars

Book Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

Book Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

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Series:
The Folk of the Air #2
Release Date: 8th January 2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy from my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Review

This book gave me such a book hangover I’m not sure I will ever enjoy another book again.

book cover (13)I’m pretty sure that’s all the review you need but I’ll attempt to go into a little bit more detail. The Wicked King is the second instalment in the Folk of the Air series. This is already a massively popular series and book one – The Cruel Prince – was on everyone’s best of 2018 list (including mine). Going into The Wicked King I had a certain amount of trepidation – what if it’s all filler and suffers from second book syndrome?

Well that absolutely was not the case. The Wicked King is unputdownable. The stakes are higher, the plot twists are earth shattering and it is without a doubt one of my all time favourite books. Holly Black has created this immensely lush and beautiful world that is just a dream to be in. The characters are so complex and fascinating – Jude and Cardan are everything but there’s also a whole host of secondary characters who fascinate me so much. Jude is such a fascinating protagonist, fighting for what she wants and I loved seeing things from her perspective.

There’s plenty of action and excitement in The Wicked King too – not to mention a dash of romance. If you’re a fan of twisty fantasy this is definitely a series to pick up and binge read immediately – if you’ve already raced through The Cruel Prince then The Wicked King is worth the wait and definitely needs to be your next read.
5 stars

Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

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Release Date:
February 8th 2018
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! 

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

Review

This vivid rich tale has absolutely stolen my heart and I could not put it down. A blend of magic and history, this book has definitely rocketed to one of my favourite books ever. The Toymakers is written in an incredibly beautiful style and the plot draws you in from the very outset. I couldn’t get enough of this book, with its bright depictions and stunning characters.

book cover (67)I’ve seen this book described elsewhere as a ‘fairy tale for grown ups’ and I think that’s incredibly accurate. In many ways it has that beautiful dream like quality, but with something darker lurking underneath. The story spans through two World Wars, and the effect that has on the emporium. The Toymakers is definitely the kind of book that you want to read when you have a good few hours just to sit and become completely absorbed in the story.

The characters are exceptionally well written too and definitely come alive in the setting. Cathy, Jack, Kaspar and Emil all feel like three dimensional characters, having their own motivations and desires. The book encompasses so much – jealousy, desire, friendship and hope. I don’t want to say too much about the plot as this is definitely one of those books that should be read with no spoilers, but there are a few surprises along the way that I didn’t see coming. It also has the most gorgeous cover ever, so many people asked me what I was reading when I was on my lunch break!

If you’re a fan of The Night Circus, I would definitely recommend this stunning book to you. If you’re looking for a magical and emotional tale that will leave you breathless, The Toymakers is exactly what you’re looking for.
5 stars

Book Review: Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book Review: Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Release Date:
April 5th 2018
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 353
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

A half-Japanese teen grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school in this debut novel.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

Review

I picked up Starfish when I had the weekend off work, thinking to get ahead in my blog tour reading. For two afternoons I was completely immersed in this emotional roller coaster of a book. It’s a beautifully written book and was a joy to read. If you haven’t added Starfish to your wish list yet, you absolutely have to because I’m already calling this as one of the best books of the year.

The thing I loved most about Starfish has to be Kiko and the amount of depth she had. book cover (50)She was an excellently written character and one that I could probably write about for days. I absolutely loved her and I became attached so quickly to this beautiful protagonist. The representation of anxiety in this book is completely spot on, and I loved watching Kiko as she grows and develops as a character. Starfish is sweet and sad in equal measure and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough.

There is of course a romance aspect to the story, but I really enjoyed that it was a slow building relationship one that was well thought out and developed, it definitely added another layer to the story and made the characters feel more realistic. Jamie too is an excellently portrayed character, he’s sweet and determined and just the nicest character ever.

This book deals with so many more themes and topics beyond anxiety. I won’t say too much because I wouldn’t want to spoil this beautiful book for anyone but the story deals with trauma during childhood, dealing with a difficult home life as well as what it’s like to be bi-racial. This quiet, subtle book is all about finding yourself and creating an identity, and it’s the kind of book that stays with you long after you’re finished reading. It’s an absolutely stunning debut (with one of the most gorgeous covers I have ever seen!) and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Akemi writes next.
5 stars