My two best friends and I are extreme book nerds. Especially for YA books. Since we are viewed as weird in the real world, we decided to go to the Internet, where everyone is weird. It has been going pretty well. Our original blog is Crazy for YA
This is not a story about Tinker Bell. There is no Neverland where all of the fairies happily live together. There isn't any pixie dust, but there is a lot of blood. Holly Black's faeries aren't tiny wisps of whimsy who endeavor to help humans. This is not a fairytale but a faerie-tale.
Black's tale is tangled with the a beautiful darkness that accompanies magic. The separation between faeries and humans is blurry, with the main character Jude and her family falling in between the cracks. The story follows Jude's journey to fight the monsters that killed her parents, stole her from her home, and gave her a new, magical life or to become the same monster.
Just like all of Black's books, The Cruel Prince is a complex book that goes beyond the basic look at faeries. There is the conflict between family, faeries, and Jude against herself. There are rules of conduct, violence, and rules for lawlessness. There is a complex code of propriety, which was explored and broken with the addition of Jude's humanity into the hierarchy.
I loved the brutality of the faeries, with nothing spared for the faint of heart. Faeries are the walking contradictions of extreme beauty and relentless cruelty and sometimes I couldn't even tell the two apart. The writing was versatile enough to beautifully emphasize the gruesome violence and the ethereal magic of the faeries. The world-building was my favorite part, constructing a complete culture (even more than one with the different Courts) of faeries with their rituals, beliefs, and excruciating details of their lives.
However, the characters were not as good as the world-building. Characters drive the plot, but it just seemed like Jude was driving on the wrong side of the road for most of the story. The pivotal moment was so predictable to me and not to Jude which undermines her whole persona as the strategist and cunning hero. In the end, she redeemed herself by hatching a plan that I didn't (fully) predict, yet I am still not convinced of her all-knowing, confident persona that the book hinges on. I will grant that she is an interesting morally gray character who doesn't cry at the sight of blood, even if she is the reason it was shed, but I couldn't buy the tough girl act.
In addition, I couldn't see the focus on family that Jude emphasized so much. Her twin disappears after the first fourth of the novel, only to reappear briefly for shock value in the plot twist. Taryn was used more as a plot device than as an actual character. Jude's relationships with Oak and Vivienne were more fleshed out and I enjoyed the conflict between Madoc as a weird surrogate father to foster child relationship.
My final hesitation with The Cruel Prince lies with the romance(s), if I can even call it that. The romance is not the central conflict, which separates it from some of the other YA books dealing with faeries. The romantic encounters were full of desire, playfulness, danger, and confusion, which is consistent with Black's branding of faeries. The relationship (and I am being vague on purpose to avoid spoilers) is messy and ambiguous, but I did not fall for it like I believe the book wanted me to. Regardless of my wariness, I will give it a shot in the second book. I have a feeling that a piece of the story that we are missing and Black is just preparing to properly pull at my heartstrings later on in the series.
If you are looking for a faerie story that doesn't sugarcoat anything or rely on romance as the only plot point, then The Cruel Prince might be the book for you. The portrayal of family is not as complete as I wanted and the twists were not particularly surprising, but the world-building and writing are worth acting surprised at the "plot twist".
Welcome to Book Battles, a feature here at Crazy for YA where I put two books in the battle ring and have them fight it out to see which one is better. See all of my previous bloody, literary battles.
Today's fight is a vicious fight, two masterpieces from the same creator, a cult classic vs. the new book on the scene, The Fault in Our Stars vs. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.
In addition to both being written by the same author, TFIOS and TATWD are extremely similar. They both deal with tragedy, death, and philosophical teenagers. Both novels have a female main character who has to deal with these unfavorable circumstances aided by a love interest. Parents play a large role in both stories, unlike his other novels.
Today, I am going to investigate which of John Green's stories is superior.
Plus I would love to hear what you think about both of these books! Which one do you think is better?
Fantasy books aren't the only stories with magic. In The Art of Escaping, Mattie shows that determination, grit, and the magic of picking a lock are just as interesting as wizards, dragons, and far-away lands.
I know that everyone is familiar with Houdini and his infamous stunts, but Mattie and her mentor Miyu shatter the theatrics of Houdini in order to show the true danger of stage "magic". Mattie's obsession with escapology brought the darker side of magic to real life. It is easy to watch an escape artist or magician from the safety of the audience, but Callahan brought the readers up close and personal, literally under the water with Mattie. This view of escapology contrasts to the innocence of card tricks and pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Instead of the flashy magic associated with sleight of hand, I was intrigued by the stakes of escapology and those willing to risk their lives for its sake.
The focus on Mattie as a escape artist also flips stereotypes of magic performance since she is the star of the show and not merely the eye-candy assistant. Much to my delight, her magic didn't depend on romance. Mattie is a strong, independent woman who doesn't need a man to be extraordinary. The raw diary entries incorporated throughout the story also worked to defy the facade of magic. She was a courageous escapologist, but she was also a person with magic of her own.
Will's development as a character was also strong as he dealt with coming out in the hostile environment of high school. He was a round character who was not only gay, but also an amazing friend, a magical assistant, a witty voice of reason, and a protagonist in his own right. Will was not a side character pushed off to the side, but a main character with just as much page-time and depth as Mattie.
Even though I loved the twist on magic and the intricacies of escapology, the execution of the ideas could have been better.
The book is told in dual perspectives through the voices of Mattie and Will, which I do not think was necessary. Both characters had unique voices and I loved the differentiation in style, but they narrated many of the same events. While I mostly enjoyed both perspectives, there were times when I felt that I was getting the same story over again. It also didn't help that the plot was a little bit predictable, which emphasized the repetition even more. Some fragments of the timeline were told more than once, but there were also weeks and weeks of the time line that were glossed over (like the entirety of their high school experience).
On the whole, I enjoyed the vibrant voice and unique metaphors that Callahan used to create the atmosphere of high school. There weren't any of the same old cliches, but the style tended to exaggerate for the sake of uniqueness. Specifically, Will's voice tried too hard at points to be "cool" and "hipster" with the retro references. Instead of incorporating a few vintage phrases, at times he spoke in the full vernacular of the 1920's, which teenagers are not normally apt to do.
Recommended for: fans of Harry Houdini (or the cinematic masterpiece Now You See Me), fantasy fans looking to explore contemporary, contemporary fans looking for a little bit of magic, those looking for LGBT+ representation in a high school setting
<b>This review and other bookish shenanigans can be found on my original blog, <a href="http://4evercrazyforya.blogspot.com/">Crazy for YA</a>.</b>
Top Ten Tuesday is a list-based meme hosted by the amazing Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. If the meme sounds familiar, it was formerly hosted by The Broke and Bookish.
My "to-re-read" shelf on Goodreads is pretty much bare with a mere 12 books. Personally, I am not a huge fan of re-reading. In the end, the act of reading a story for a second or third time mostly seems like a waste of time to me when there are plenty of other books I need to read. If I had all of the time in the world, then I would gladly re-read to my heart's desire. Unfortunately, my reading time is limited and I like to dedicate that time to exploring new worlds.
Despite my stance against re-reading, there are only a handful of books that I would never consider re-reading.
Click the link above to find out which books I love, but will respectfully never re-read and join in the conversation!
I like to think of myself as a fair and honest person. I never cheat on tests. I never tell myself that I will only watch one episode of Netflix because I know it would end up being a lie. I always replace the roll of toilet paper instead of leaving an empty tube for the next unfortunate soul who enters the bathroom.
However, it has come to my attention that I may be the worst criminal of them all--a rating robber.
Click the link above to find out what a rating robber is and how I stopped being one.
If I said that The Bone Season is like a roller-coaster, I would be lying. Most people would think this is a bad since roller-coasters are the most exciting rides at amusement parks. Well, most people are wrong. I am of the opinion that roller-coasters are just metal death traps with a deceiving name. We should not tempt fate by flinging ourselves in the air at unnaturally high speeds just for the sake of an adrenaline rush.
Anyway, The Bone Season is more like bumper cars. You are shoved into a small, mostly dark arena and told to smash into other people. There is no real structure to the madness. Due to conservation of momentum and other principles of physics that I vaguely remember from high school, as soon you crash into each other, both of you are repelled from each other. In The Bone Season, as soon as you touched something interesting, you are immediately pushed away. You bump into a lot of other people (or a lot of people bump into you if you are a rookie) but in the end you don't really accomplish anything.
Click the link above to read more of my thoughts on The Bone Season and my final rating!
Welcome to Book Battles, a feature here at Crazy for YA where I put two books in the battle ring and have them fight it out to see which one is better.
Today's fight is between The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye. Even though the two books are aimed for different age ranges, their drastic differences really contribute to the same plot--a competition between two magicians that may or may not fall in love. The Night Circus was marketed more toward adults than young adults (but I don't tend to put too much stock in age ranges when it comes to YA vs. adult, just read whatever you want).
With different age ranges, historical time periods, and casts of characters, it may seem like The Night Circus and The Crown's Fate don't have much in common. Despite the fact that the more intricate details do not exactly match, the core plot at the middle of the story is the same--a competition between two magicians with hate to love romance.
My task today is to act as a referee between these two books to see which one mastered the story line better.
Click the link to found out which book won over my heart more!
Top Ten Tuesday is a list-based meme hosted by the amazing Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. If the meme sounds familiar, it was formerly hosted by The Broke and Bookish.
Happy Galentine's Day! Since I am a rebel (and by that I mean single and slightly bitter), my Top Ten Tuesday is not going to focus on love and other sappy stuff as it was supposed to. Instead I am going to celebrate a much more important holiday, Galentine's Day.
For those who have not had the enlightening experience of watching Leslie Knope celebrate this holiday on Parks and Recreation, let me educate you. The day before the mushy gushy holiday on February 14 is dedicated to the power of female friendship and the awesomeness that is being a woman, regardless of whether or not you have a significant other. Galentine's Day is about girl-power and self-love, not about crying while watching The Notebook with a pint of Ben and Jerry's as your only companion.
To celebrate this wonderful day, I am sharing with you some of my favorite, kick-butt heroines from YA lit.
Click the link to learn more about some of my favorite heroines from YA and join in the discussion!
The short answer is yes, there still is a blog here. The long answer is more complicated and requires some explanation.
Is a three-month absence too long to blame on technical issues?
Unfortunately, it was not a broken computer, slow Internet, or a three-month long blackout that prevented me from blogging.
There is a fine line between annoying and intolerable. Personally, I have danced across this line so often that I am very familiar with the difference. Unfortunately, there are some characters who are completely unaware that there even is a line.
All readers have met unlikeable characters sometime in their book adventures. These are the characters who make your blood boil and your veins bulge in frustration. For some reason or another, they get on your nerves. In fact, they are a common literary tool used to stir up emotion within the reader. Think about all of the romances that are hate-to-love. In the beginning, we all hated Rhys from A Court of Thorns and Roses (and even though some of us still hate him, you get the point), Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices, the Darkling from The Grisha series, even Haymitch from The Hunger Games. When I think about it, there are a lot of characters who started pretty high on my "I'd-love-to-watch-you-burn" list, but ended up on my list of favorite characters. I classify these characters as "unlikeable" since they rub me the wrong way sometimes, but have not completely lost their chance for my respect.
But, there is another kind of annoying character. The kind that crosses the line between decent indecency and hateful scumbag. These characters are definitely unbearable, but sometimes it can be hard to discern when they changed from merely unlikeable to full-blown intolerable.
I am notorious for not finishing series. Despite my fangirl nature, I never have the guts and emotional stability to finish a journey with characters. Most of the time, I view the final book in a series as a funeral for the story and its beloved characters. The dread overwhelms my excitement and creates a paradox where I want to finish a series, but I am afraid of leaving a world behind.
Thankfully, I felt the opposite going into Queen of Chaos. Ross expertly finished Blood of the Prophet with a cliffhanger that even a person who loathes endings could not resist. Of course, I was devastated because the end one of my favorite series was nigh, but my heart was comforted by the insurance that Ross would not let me down.
And let me tell you, she did not disappoint. There are five-star books, and then there are five-star books. The books that leave you without breath, holding back tears and smiling at the same time. Books that carry you so far into its world that you take a piece of it when you leave. There are five-star books and there are books that make you feel something. Queen of Chaos is both to me. Books this heart-wrenching and phenomenal remind why I continue to read. Even though I can read a dozen one-star books in a row, the hope of reading another book like Queen of Chaos keeps me going. The mixture of pure satisfaction, hope, and longing that I felt after finishing this book cemented it as not only a five-star book but a five-star series.
This series is not something that you can read and forget. I will always have a piece of Nazafareen's stubbornness and unfailing heroism with me. I will remember Darius and his struggle to love himself and others. I will keep Tijah's feistiness and Myrri's quiet strength.
Speaking of characters, none of Ross's creations could really be called flat, in my opinion. Even stock characters without a lot of screentime are thoroughly explored. My emotions were twisted and manipulated so that I never knew who was the real antagonist. I was kept on my toes throughout the storyline. Better yet, there was no useless filler to take up words. Ross made every character, every chapter, and every word count. In a mere 300 pages, my heart was shattered, tramped on, and put back together with the power of this world.
All of the gushing aside, this is a series that all fantasy fans can enjoy. The world is unique with a brilliant magic system that I have never seen before. I felt as if I was plucked from my mundane suburban home and dropped in an exciting adventure in the deserts of magical Persia.
One of my favorite parts of this series is the shift in perspectives. Every character gets their own voice, and I was interested in pretty much all of them equally. Even though I have a little bit more of a tender spot for Darius and Nazafareen, all of the characters' stories spoke to me in different ways. Queen of Chaos gives readers the unique experience to see a story from every single perspective, which is not seen in every novel.
Anyone looking for a unique and mind-blowing fantasy novel should give this series a shot. The action-packed plot is perfectly accentuated with complex perspectives, cultivated diversity, and a healthy dose of romance. Ross's series has earned a coveted spot on my shelf alongside the rest of my favorite series.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme (or monthly in my case), hosted by the amazing Jill at Breaking the Spine.
Since I am a rebellious blogger, I am not following the traditional Waiting on Wednesday rules. Instead of posting the meme weekly, I am going to do it monthly (work smarter, not harder). Plus, my WOW will only include books that will be releasing (or have already been released) in the same month, so you don't have to wait forever to get these beauties.
This month features a lot of diverse books, which could not have been timed better. This year, I vowed to read and blog about more diverse and inclusive novels. With such a suffocating atmosphere in the real world, I want to be able to spotlight books that offer a more diverse, accepting, and open-minded approach to the world. Books really do have power; the power to increase knowledge, open minds, and create understanding, but only if you pick up the right ones. So, I hope that I can guide you in the right direction with my picks this month.
Click the link to see my most anticipated reads of February!
2016 was a year of contradictions.
We said goodbye to many artists who made the world a better place, including but not limited to Prince, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, and Alan Rickman.
We said hello to great movies and entertainment, like Stranger Things, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Moana. Also, Hamilton the Musical continued its streak into fame.
We got an American Authors album that rocked my mind.
We got a president-elect who is pushing the boundaries of our nation.
The book blogging universe exploded several times from scandal, fraud, and dishonesty. Racism and poor representation burned through social media. The call for diverse books, authors, readers, and editors was met with strong disagreements.
The book blogging universe exploded with support for one another. Events like DiversityDecBingo and Loveathon shared the blogger love. Countless bloggers campaigned for diversity and representation on every platform available.
The highs and lows were reflected in every area of life, especially in my reading goals and accomplishments.
Sometimes you have a really good idea in the shower. Like you are just scrubbing shampoo in your hair, then WHAM, it hits you. Maybe it is an invention that the world just needs to have or a song that has to be written, but whatever it is, it is pure genius. Although it might seem like a great idea while the steam is fogging your brain, when you get out you realize there are many holes in the idea. The shower is a good place to start ideas, but they have to be finished on dry land.
I feel like The Ones is a book that was born and raised in the steam of a too-hot shower. The beginning of the book was great, like that AHA moment you have in the shower. There was a twist in the beginning that had my mind reeling. The beginning of the book was really realistic and I felt as if it could actually happen sometime in the future. I have to applaud Sweren-Becker for tackling such a complex issue. Whether or not you want to think about it, genetic engineering is happening right now. Eventually, humans will have to decide how far we are willing to go, which he deeply explores in his debut novel.
In the beginning, everything was great. The characters were solid. The setting, including the popular opinions and social environments of the time, complemented the conflict well. Even the different perspectives added a personal touch to each narrative.
Unfortunately, the rest of the novel was cloudy, like the steam in a shower that should have been done hours ago.
The characters changed from relatable teenagers into rebels with a cause like in so many other dystopian novels. Instead of standing out from the crowd, the characters made themselves into stereotypical, self-righteous teenagers. They ran headfirst into the "action" before considering consequences, like pretty much every other teenager stuck in a dystopian future. While the action moved along the plot and gave the characters something to do, it caused a rapid decrease in the reality of the situation along with my interest.
They fell into bad situations that I could see were traps from 10 miles away. Frankly, at that point in the novel, the characters kind of deserved what they got. The only character I ended up rooting for was James. His character remained constant throughout the novel, even though Cody changed so much that I started rooting against her.
In contrast to the amazing beginning of the novel, the later twists stopped being surprising and the ending was more frustrating that suspenseful. The potential that started so high in the beginning crash-landed at the end without any way to recover. I believe that the novel would have been five stars if it was so soggy from spending too much time in the shower.
The Ones is not the unique dystopian novel I thought it was going to be. Although the beginning was strong, the rest of the novel crumbled under pressure. If you like the idea of genetically engineered humans, then give it a shot but don't expect anything different from the rest of the genre.