The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This time, I read The Cruel Prince, one of the most hyped up books for January 2018, with my discord server’s book club!

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: This bounced around the entire book, but by the end, Jude

Spoiler Free: To start, I’m going to admit I really did not care for the Tithe series at all. I don’t remember the why behind it, but it just didn’t click with me. So fair enough, I was quite worried and cautious about starting this book, and as the hype rose around this book more and more, my excitement for it did not.

In the end, it was chosen as the book club book in the discord server I am in, and it was the Fairyloot January book. Without these two reasons, I may have skipped this book entirely. I am SO glad I did not!

It blew away any expectations I did have, and I didn’t see any connection between this book and my feelings for Tithe. It snatched my interest and kept it, through every twist and turn, every betrayal and backstab. It felt true to the world of Faerie, but still created characters to cheer for and love.

From the main character to all the small side characters, each felt fairly developed, and fairly realistic. We have Jude, a mortal grown in a cruel world by a cruel “father,” and admittedly this affected how she grew up as well. But we also have her twin, someone who accepted Faerie in a different way. In addition, all of the Fae live up to this cruel idea while still having a personality around that. They have their flaws, and this book shows them sticking to them regardless of how much we hope they’ll be “good.”

Additionally, while the world is a bit confusing in the beginning, it clears up quickly, and the fact you don’t remember the names and relations right off the bat is totally okay, as you’re often reminded of them in a way that is helpful, not repetitive or overbearing.

 

Lastly, the plot is absolutely fantastic, and is constantly packed with action and intrigue. There’s never a lull where I wanted to put the book down and take a break, and the pacing overall was much better than some of the other books I’ve read recently.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

“Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! Allison and I chose The Belles as our book to read together last week, so here is my review!

“No one is a prisoner. Even you have the power to make your own choices.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Remy

Spoiler Free: This book was a rollercoaster ride. A slow start, a slow build up to the first big drop, the first big twist. Then suddenly you’re falling, and you’re not quite sure when you’ll stop. The drop is bigger than you expected, curving and twisting at moments, but then you start to get used to it. You start to expect each curve, each spin, and it starts to feel drawn out. You start to see the end of the ride, and wonder, “Is this it? Was the fun in the middle?” But you are wrong, and suddenly everything is thrown upside down and your heart is in your throat once again. Before you have the chance to process all this, the ride jerks to a stop, and forcing you off, leaving you to wait for the next ride once again.

That, in a long metaphor, is my experience with this book. I did really like it, and I really want to read what happens next, but there were some issues. It was mainly a pacing (slow, quick, slow, quick drop of info then end) issue, and some holes in the plot, but overall I do highly recommend this!

Additionally, the world is super interesting. While it could’ve been better explained at points, I really enjoyed learning about a world so obsessed with beauty, and all the different ways they go about getting that. Also, in order to make us want and truly see that beauty, we were given lushious descriptions of dresses, eyes, hair, and all the rest. We fell into this world wanting that beauty as well, wanting to see what creation Camellia made next, even with all the problems that came with it.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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This Above All by Lindsey Roth Culli

“When sixteen-year old Piper is cast as Romeo in her school’s production, she’s as surprised as everyone else. Not only because she’s a girl, but also because she’s from one of the region’s most notorious ultraconservative families.

But when the school principal demands that the part be recast “appropriately” or the show cannot go on, Piper faces a choice: become the figurehead to appeal the principal’s decision or accept the message the administration’s ultimatum sends to the school’s gay students, including her new friends. Namely, that they should be ashamed of who they are or whom they happen to love.

Pitched as Dirty Dancing meets Saved!, when the daughter of one of the region’s most notorious ultraconservative families is cast as Romeo in her school production, drama is sure to follow.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This was another one of those e-ARCs I had lying around from last year, and I finally got to it!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Tony

Spoiler Free: Looking back, I’m not 100% what made me request this book from NetGalley, since it’s not the type of story I usually enjoy, but I’m really glad I did.

I was originally quite put off by our narrator, Piper, because her ideologies are so much different from mine. At certain points in the beginning of the story, it was actually quite hard to read her opinions on certain people and things. But as Piper started questioning herself and beliefs, and warming up to the idea of diversity, I started warming up to her!

While I can’t say I liked every part of the plot, and certain parts of the ending really got on my nerves, it overall was a really nice story. One of the first things I noticed when reading was how natural/realistic the writing felt, and how it seemed to fit Piper perfectly. It probably is what helped me warm up to Piper as fast as I did!

In the end, I highly recommend this story. It’s not a book that’s supposed to push forward religious teachings, but rather provides another viewpoint, and seems to promote a general idea of questioning what we’re taught about other people, and taking the time to learn and understand people who are different from us.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

“Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with a review! (Everytime I feel like I’m caught up with these things, I finish another 3 books!)

“There’s nothing better than a little danger dashed with some romance.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Thomas

Spoiler Free: This book completely surpassed all of my expectations! I’m usually not that into Victorian/historical novels, but this story was unlike anything I had ever read before. I loved the mystery combined with the setting, and the characters were just fantastic!

The plot itself was extremely gripping, as we hopped from crime to crime, suspect to suspect, etc. You could also tell a lot of thought and research went into the events written, as it both seemed to follow forensic developments at the time as well as tried to hold to most of the facts from the Jack the Ripper killings themselves. And even though I did figure out the killer way too quickly, I was not able to guess the reason why they were killing, which still left the ending exciting and shocking.

Additionally, I absolutely adored the characters. The dynamic between them all, especially between Audrey Rose and Thomas, was just super fun to read! The touch of romance and flirtations also worked to create excitement in what would have otherwise been dull moments in the story, and I think it worked well as an extra background layer! Definitely excited to see where the rest of this series takes the characters!

My only (small) issue with the book would have to be my difficulty getting into it at first. I started this book right after Graceling, which admittedly hooked me quite fast, so it took some focused reading to finally get me fully enraptured in the book. However, this happened around 30-40%, which is still much faster than some books hook me.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more. ”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again! Graceling was another book I read recently (and absolutely loved!) The review pretty short, but this is my favorite book of the year so far!

“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?”

Stars (Out of 10): 10/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Katsa and Po

Spoiler Free: I couldn’t put this book down once I truly got into it. Looking back, I can’t really find one thing I disliked about this book. The world was built fantastically, and explained in an easy to understand way while also not leaving anything important out. All the characters felt fully fleshed out, and entirely their own, constantly sticking to their values. Additionally, the romance, while fantastic, did not entirely dominate the book nor change the characters involved. And lastly, the plot was one that kept going from the first line to the last.

It was a tale about discovery, love and friendship, and of breaking free. A tale about fighting and learning to love (both others and yourself.) It was a tale unlike any I’ve read before, and I still cannot stop thinking about it.

This is quite possibly the best and most well-rounded fantasy stand-alone I have ever read. It didn’t feel rushed, and the build up constantly contained excitement while still giving the entire novel a base to build upon. And while the world does continue on into other books, I am still sad to leave these lovely characters here.

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

“Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard’s greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon?”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! I actually read this early January, but just finally am sharing the review here. Whoops!

“The world will end. The big picture cannot be changed. But in the meantime, as Loki once said, we can choose to alter the details. That’s how we take control of our destiny.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Hearthstone

Spoiler Free: I have to say, this finale was leagues better than the end of the Heroes of Olympus series, which goes to show that even as a veteran author, Riordan is still growing throughout his novels.

I have to preface this by saying that I went into this novel with a goal beyond enjoyment, as I actually had to write a paper on the gender roles shown within this novel/series for a class assignment. So I definitely went in with a much more critical mindset, especially in terms of the characters. However, I still ended up thoroughly enjoying this book, even if it felt like “homework” sometimes!

To begin with, I loved the abundance of minor mythological characters within the storyline. It wasn’t just Thor and Loki and other big Norse names, but plenty of lesser known ones as well. While this does mean there are a lot of introductions and new names to remember, it also removes biases/expectations we might have had of these characters from other forms of media (specifically films). For example, the representation of Thor within this novel is a far cry from the popular Marvel films, which often causes readers (or me at least) to expect different actions/emotions from the character.

Overall, it was a wonderful ending to a wonderful series. This installment was action-packed, with every chapter containing either an important plot point or a moment of character growth. Additionally, while I have some issues with the ending, it overall was a realistic yet proper send-off to the series, while still hinting at more (as Riordan always does!)

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

From the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel–the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review. A few years ago I read We Were Liars and loved it, so I was definitely intrigued when I saw E. Lockhart was coming out with a new book!

“For anyone who has been taught that good equals small and silent, here is my heart with all its ugly tangles and splendid fury.”

Stars (Out of 10): 6.5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Honestly, this was the kinda book where every character wasn’t necessarily made to be likable, but rather to be interesting.

Spoiler Free: I was so hooked on this book! With so many twists and turns to navigate, and the unique way of the story being told backwards, I could not put this book down! I enjoyed almost every chapter of this novel.

However, with such a positive intro, you may be wondering why this book only has 6.5/10 stars. This is all due to how the book ended, and while I won’t go into too much detail here to avoid spoilers, it honestly was kind of disappointing. There was all this build up and exciting twists and turns that ended up feeling like they went nowhere, and the potential was wasted.

Additionally, another thing to know going into this book is that the writing style is fairly clear cut and simple, and thus the connection you get to the characters, and sometimes the plot, is also that. There are no beautiful words and luxurious phrases to make you think the MC, Jule, is the best person out there. There is simply what happened, occasionally what Jule thinks of it, and that’s about it. This detachment is also enhanced somewhat by the use of third person, since we never seem to be directly controlled by Jule’s thoughts. However, all of this ends up adding to the story, and allows for the reader to create their own opinions and theories about what the hell went down in this novel without the biases of the narrator overshadowing it completely.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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A Jot of Blood by Katherine Bayless

“Adolescence is hard enough, but add magic to the mix and things have a way of getting complicated in a hurry. Even at Coventry Academy, one of the best schools in the world for the magically inclined, some ‘gifts’ mean nothing but trouble. What do you do when anything—your clothes, your food, the accidental brush of a fingertip—can instantly reveal the dark secrets of your closest friend … or, worse, a mortal enemy?

Coventry may have been Lire Devon’s haven since she was a little girl, but there are some who despise and even fear her rare clairvoyant power. Now, after years of simmering resentment, Lire’s nemesis, a sorceress with beauty, status, and well-connected friends, has thrown down the gauntlet. The challenge will push Lire’s resourcefulness to its limits and beyond—to a place where arcane dangers lurk and the price of power is knowledge too excruciating to bear.

Warning: The contents of this book include one surly werewolf, a snarky invisible prankster, and enough indelicate language to make a succubus blush.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! One of my goals for 2018 is to finally get through my e-ARCs so I can start picking up more, and this book was the first step in the right direction!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author  for providing me this ARC to review (as well as Netgalley for putting me in touch with them). Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: It kept bouncing between Zach and Cal!

Spoiler Free: When I picked up this book, I didn’t know what to expect! While it has all-around decent reviews, it also did not have the largest readership yet (although I hope to change this!), so it really could’ve gone either way.

While I’d consider the beginning fairly rocky, as we were introduced to our MC and her life (and extreme prejudice she faces due to her gift), it quickly got better as we were introduced to the partners in crime. I “hit it off” with Zach and Cal almost immediately, but it did take me a few chapters to connect with Lire and her sometimes brash personality.

Additionally, while I usually find myself lost in a book without a clear cut plot, I found myself just enjoying the day to day antics this trio got up to (all enhanced by Cal and Zach’s witty banter/comments!).

My main issue with the novel was revealed in the chaotic ending, and my inability to keep track of what was even going on at points. This part of the book revealed that the world is explained as things relevant are occurring, which often led you to being overwhelmed with important information exactly as action was also taking place. It also led to important parts of the world being concealed until later in the novel, even if they seemed like things that should have definitely been mentioned earlier on. (Lastly, as soon an important world point was shown to the reader, it seemed to appear quite frequently in Lire’s inner thoughts, contributing to the oddness of certain facts not being mentioned sooner.)

All in all, this was definitely a great read, and I hope the series continues! I miss these characters already!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on. But Call has no idea. It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power. In this spellbinding fourth book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take us beyond the realm of the living and into the dangers of the dead. ”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! It’s Meaghan here again with another review! After dreading the continuation of this series (don’t remind me of book 3 please), I finally got into book 4 of the Magisterium! Here’s what I thought!

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Havoc will always be the only good character anymore

Spoiler Free: This book was better than I expected. Not that much better, mind you, but better than the trainwreck that book 3 was led me to believe.

The entire book is pretty action packed, built mainly on build up of prior books, but does have the occasional rest chapter, where information is gathered and plans are formed. This lead to a super quick read. However, where this was a flaw in book 3 and led to a feeling of an unfinished book, I felt it added well to the plot of this novel, keeping readers on their toes and needing to pay attention to every moment.

However, while I felt the plot was definitely strong, and led to the high rating I gave this installment of the series, both the world building and characters had holes I just couldn’t overlook. While I won’t go into detail in this section to avoid spoilers, I felt many explanations for certain laws/traditions of the world were off, or felt a bit out there. Additionally, there were two major problems with the returning characters, especially the ones that only appeared near the end. Firstly, this book made me realize just how idiotic the community of Mages is, and made me lose any trust in their ability to do anything, ever. Additionally, some of the characters and their actions just seemed so off from what we learned about them before.

Finally, we make our way to our MC, Call. I normally found his narration unique, funny even, but at times during this novel, he just got annoying. His thoughts for most of the novel went more to the “everyone hates me” mood, and while the occasional angst and teenage self-pity is fine, but this was just excessive. I get his head space, I get the why behind all of this doubt, but even after multiple moments of confirmation from other characters, this doesn’t lessen. It made certain moments annoying to read, as sometimes irrelevant feelings seemed to be explained again just to add filler. Additionally, this created a very repetitive mantra at points.

Also, let me just say this, but I still can’t stop drawing parallels between this series and Harry Potter. It’s not so much in the larger details anymore, but the smaller details. But this has always been the case from the beginning!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! One of my goals for 2018 is to make sure I review every book I read (besides graphic novels and some other exceptions), so I’m catching up on the three books I’ve read so far now!

Stars (Out of 10): 4/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I didn’t get to know anyone enough to like them (only decent dude seemed to be the love interest though)

Spoiler Free: Let’s preface this by saying I was originally going to give this a 6/10, but then I started actually writing this review.

There were many things I didn’t like about this book. First, we have this random romance that really had no purpose at all, and completely disappeared once the real plot got started. Additionally, I didn’t find myself actually liking any of the characters. Sofia just got on my nerves, and I couldn’t find myself relating to her at all from the very beginning. In a horror novel, this lack of attachments means you just end up not caring what happens to the character, which takes away the impact all the torture and gore had.

Also, I personally felt that gore/violence was used to substitute for actual plot, which kinda had me rolling my eyes at points. This also mean that the ending kinda fell flat due to wishy-washy build up.

However, I do have to say this book made me curious to the truth behind it. Due to my dissatisfaction with the lack of concrete answers to any of my questions in this book’s endings, I feel almost forced to continue the series. I’m way too curious now to know what’s all going on!

(Sorry for the abnormally short review, I just felt the spoiler section wouldn’t add much more than repetition of ideas already shared!)