Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

The Wicked King Holly Black

Title: The Wicked King

Author: Holly Black

Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publishing date: January 8th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 336

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

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The Wicked King is highly entertaining, full of twist and turns, and brimming with complex and compelling characters and relationships. As with the first book in this series, the tension is high, there’s never a moment of peace because the feeling that something is about to happen, most likely something bad,  is always present. This is full of angst, betrayal, deceive, lust, murder, mind games, viciousness and wit, all of it is so enthralling and intoxicating and Holly Black’s writing works perfectly to reflect that.

Jude has made it to my list of favorite main characters, she is cunning, coldhearted, strong, and even when she’s outwitted and undermined and even plain defeated, she’s always scheming and getting back up and finding ways to beat everyone and keep her power. At the same time, she loves her family and she’s conflicted between her love for her family and her love of power, which makes her motives and reasonins more complex. She’s a three dimentional character and I liked that we get to see her afraid, sad, furious, desperate, vulnerable; we get to see so many sides of her.

When it comes to Cardan, I liked seen him grow as a character even if there were only glimpses of it because the story is told from Jude’s prespective.  By the end of the book, Cardan is a more confident, clever, strong, powerful, cunning character and it’s so good to see that. The whole storyline about the lands of Fairy being connected to the ruler is great and the direction in which Holly Black takes that in this book opens so many posibilities. I also enjoyed the glimpses we get of the relationship that Cardan is building with The Roach and The Bomb. Their ideas about him definitely change and there’s loyalty and trust being built between them and I’m so happy Cardin is starting to have the right people on his corner.

Now, let’s talk about my favorite part of the book, which is, the relatinship between Cardan and Jude. The dynamic between them is messed up, I’m not gonna deny that, but I still love them together. Cardan and Jude have this angsty, spiteful, deep, complicated relationship, that is the epitome of the enemies to lovers trope and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the next book.

In terms of Jude’s family, Madoc is such an interesting character, as soon as he’s on the page he comands attention and I love how complex his relationship with Jude is, full of love, hate, cunning and betrayal. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Now, when it comes to Jude’s sisters, I’ll say that Vivi is exaspering, oblivious and a bit selfish and she annoys me a bit. As for Taryn, she is the worst character in this series, not only because she does things that make me dislike her, but also because she manages to be boring while doing them. I mean as much as Locke is terrible, he is at least interesting and I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be a bigger player in this series than he has been so far, when he actually puts his mind to it.

Nicasia, Orlagh and Balekin were the most obvious antagonist and the first to make a move against Cardan’s rule, but honestly, I feel like they worked mostly as a distraction, because the fight for power is a long one and there’s other people scheming and biding their time to win the long game.

The one negative things I’ll say about this book is that one of the big plot twists relays on Jude overlooking something that was a bit obvious and it’s a bit hard to believe that she would miss that. There’s a partial explanation because she was putting her body and mind through hell by not resting, not eating, consuming poisons, between other things. So, it could be all of that that lead her to overlook some things, but it’s never point out in the book and I don’t entirely buy that explanation. But overall, it didn’t really diminish my enjoyment of the book.

The ending was fantastic, infuriating but fantastic, and I can’t believe we have to wait a year for the next book. Honestly, if you haven’t started this series yet, what are you waiting for?! I know the hype can be scary, but get over it! You will be happy if you do.

Rating: 5 stars 
Have you read this series? Are you planning on reading it? Are any fantasy books similar to this series that you would recommend? 

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ARC Review: You Are Here by Dawn Lanuzo

You Are Here by Dawn Lanuzo Cover

Title: You Are Here

Author: Dawn Lanuzo

Published by:Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publishing date: February 12th 2019

Genre: Poetry

Pages: 272

Growth and change—two powerful anthems resonate throughout this collection of poetry and prose that will leave you feeling emboldened and empowered.

You Are Here is Dawn Lanuza’s newest collection of contemporary poetry that lends itself to the idea of giving ourselves second chances. These self-healing poems and words draw on central themes of self-love, self-discovery, and empowerment. In order to survive the vicissitudes of life, You Are Here boldly reminds readers to always choose themselves, and in times where it seems impossible, to find the courage and strength to start anew.

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A copy of this book was provided via Netgalley by Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange of an honest review.

“Isn’t it sad, to be sad, and not able to say it”

You Are Here addresses themes like depression, chronic pain, healing, second love and second chances. A lot of these themes resonated with me and a lot of what the author was trying to say is important, but the execution took away from the message behind the poems. The writing style isn’t strong enough, is too simple and it doesn’t allow the poems to feel as powerful and touching as they could have been.

“No one knows how to love me when I’m sad

And I can’t blame them for that

I don’t even know how to love me

When the voices come at night

I hate and hate and hate

Even when I fight”

Nonetheless, I feel like this collection could help a lot of people dealing with depression (or mental illness in general) to feel seen and understood. There’s this poem that talks about Lanuza’s struggles to decide when it’s the appropriate time to tell a new romantic partner that she has depression, and I think that poem in particular will resonate with a lot of people, even if the writing isn’t the best. That’s one of the many poems that talk about mental health in this collection, which to me, represent the best of Lanuza’s work.

Overall, I would say that even if this is not the best written poetry collection, it deals with some important subjects in a relatable way and I would still recommend it.

Rating: 3,4 stars

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Book Review: Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Beneath the Citadel 

Title: Beneath the Citadel

Author: Destiny Soria

Published by: Amulet

Publishing date: October 9th 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 480

In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves. 

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Trigger Warnings: panic and anxiety attacks, abusive parents, captivity and torture, and death.

Beneath the Citadel has five main characters, all of them with chapters told from their point of view, and all of them with distintive voices and personalities. The characters are flawed, they make mistake, they have insecurities and because of that they were compelling and felt like real, three dimentional people, which made them my favorite part of the story. Also, there’s a lot of diversity in this book, which is another aspect that I loved about it! One of the main characters is a POC; another is an ace, plus sized, POC, that has severe anxiety; another one is a bisexual POC, and the other one has trauma from being abuse by his father. All these aspects of the characters identities are integrated seamlessly to the story.

Another great things about this book is the way it shows complex relationship and dynamics between characters that disagree most of the time but still love each other; or characters that come from families that have bad blood between them but still trust each other; or characters that have history between them that makes things awkward but they still love each other. Honestly, there’s so many things that make the relationships between these characters complicated and STILL they love and trust each other and it’s so beautiful and it was something I loved about this book.

Beneath the Citadel has an amazing, layared magic system. This book doesn’t go into too much details about the history of the world, the gods and the magic, it focuses more on the actual abilities that people have and that choice works really well with the pace of the book. There are abilities that people are born with and that are more closely related to the mind, like being able to see and manipulate other people’s memories or being able to see the future. And then there are abilities that people acquire through a painful procedure that only a few have access to and that only one man knows how to perform, those abilities are more physical since people are able to control one substance in most cases a metal, but also other things like glass. As I said, the magic system is fascinating and adds a really cool element to the story, but I really liked the fact that not all the main characters have magic abilities, but all of them offer something to the team and contribute in their own ways.

Now, in terms of the plot, this is a story about a heist and what’s really interesting, more so that the actual heist, is that there are two people pushing the main characters to pull off the heist but they are expecting completely different results. So, it’s really hard for the characters to know what side to choose since they can’t trust neither of them, and that makes the story so much more captivating. Also, throughout the book, sometimes it’s hard to know if the main characters should trust each other, because they have secrets and different motivations that can force them to make choices that can affect the others in negative ways even if they don’t want to hurt them.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this book and there’s always something happening, so the book is entertaining and engaging the whole time. Sometimes it feels like everything is a bit too easy for the main characters, it seems like they manage to get out of the trickiest situations with relative ease, and at the beginning that’s true, but by the end everything gets so intense and so many things go wrong that the resolution  is kind of shocking and bittersweet.

Overall, Beneath the Citadel is an entertaining read, with a cast of amazing diverse characters, complex relationships between them and a plot full of twist and turns that will keep at the edge of your seat.

Rating: 4,5 stars 

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? Are any fantasy books that are standalones and that you would recommend?

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Mini Reviews: Comics Edition (Hi Fi Fight Club + Lumberjanes)

mini reviews2

Hi everyone! Today I’m sharing some mini reviews of comics that I have read lately. I used to think that comics weren’t for me, but I kept trying because there were some that sounded amazing and, after a while, I have gotten used to reading them and I have started to really enjoy them, so you will probably see more posts about comics in the future!

Hi Fi Fight Club 1

Title:Hi Fi Fight Club #1

Author: Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva (Illustrator)

Release date:  August 23rd 2017

Published by: BOOM! Box

New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie. But when Rory Gory, the staff’s favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl…her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

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  • I read this comic thanks to the really cool quiz that the amazing Laura put together! If you want to get more into comics and you need some help deciding where to start, you should definitely check it out!
  • This first issue was really short and it just sets up everything for the series, but it’s still really enjoyable. This has enough to get a general feel of both the world and the characters, since it mainly focuses on introducing the characters and their dynamics and giving some hints of where the series is going.
  • The best part of this comic are the characters, they all have their own styles and personalities and by the little bit that this first issue shows, I’m sure I’m gonna love them. I think it’s important to mention that the main character is queer, which is something else to love about it.
  • The art is amazing, it’s so delicate and the color pallet is so pleasing and lovely.
  • This is oozing with girl power and I’m sure that would increase in the other issues.

RATING: 4 STARS

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The Lumberjanes 1

Title: Lumberjanes #1

Author: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen (Illustrator).

Release date: April 9th 2014

Published by: BOOM! Box

Jo, Apri, Mal and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

 

  • The first page in this is amazing. The art, the way it conveys what’s happening and the way it has this spooky feel to it, everything in that first page is great and sets a great tone for the next couple of pages.
  • I had heard this mentioned a lot before reading it, but I didn’t know what this was actually about so I was pleasantly surprise by a lot of things. I knew this had supernatural elements, but I didn’t know it’s about girl scouts solving mysteries while being in some spooky situations. This ended up being a lot more fun and unique than I was expecting!
  • Another great thing about this is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s kind of funny at some points, which I really enjoyed.
  • The art style is not my favorite, but the color pallet is very vibrant and works really well with the story.

RATING: 3,8 STARS

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Lumberjanes 2016 Special

Title: Lumberjanes: 2016 Special: Makin’ the Ghost of It

Author: Jen Wang, Kelly Thompson, Shannon Watters,  Christine Norrie (Illustrator), Savanna Ganucheau (Illustrator).

Release date: May 18th 2016

Published by: BOOM! Box

Jen takes the girls on a nature walk to show them which plants are edible in case they need to survive in the wilderness. Along the way, she tells them the story about an axe murderer who took his friends out, one by one until no one was left, thoroughly scaring Mal. Terrified and unable to sleep, Mal thinks she sees something lurking outside. Is it…THE AXE MURDERER?!?!

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  • I have to admit that I got a bit confused and this was the first Lumberjanes issue that I read, which sucks because I didn’t enjoy this that much and it also diminished my enjoyment of the first issue a little bit when I finally read it.
  • There’s a main story in this issue that was good, but then at the end there was this short story that I felt didn’t add anything to the issue.
  • The best part of this is a small section at the beginning when a scary story is told to the girls, it was a bit spooky and entertaining.
  • But the rest of the story was a bit ridiculous and not as enjoyable.
  • The art on this is prettier and more delicate than in issue 1, if it doesn’t seem that way from the cover.

RATING: 3,4 STARS 

Do you read comics? Which ones would you recommend to me? Have you read any of the ones on this post?

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Mini Review: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Hi everyone! I just wanted to mention before the review that I read this book as part of Catch up on Classics! I have been meaning to read a Sherlock Holmes book for a while and I thought this was the perfect chance.

a study in scarlet

Title: A Study in Scarlet

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Publishing date:  1887

Genre: Adult, Mystery

Pages: 143

From the moment Dr John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet , Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood. The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge . . .

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This was my first time reading any of the Sherlock Holmes books and sadly I was disappointed. My main issue with this was that the writing style is so dry and boring, which made this book hard to enjoy.

The beginning of the book was interesting because Watson and Sherlock are introduced and it’s exciting to see the first glimpse of this iconic characters, but that excitement fades away quickly because everything feels slow and boring thanks to the writing style. I was hoping once the story got to the crime solving part things would get better, and while it was a bit more captivating, I felt like I couldn’t even try to solve the mystery behind the murder, because there’s almost no clues, there’s no interrogations, and honestly, there’s barely any information about the crime that was committed.

And then, when it seems like it’s finally time to see Sherlock in action, this book jumps 20 years to the past and starts to talk about Mormons, American pioneers and even the Gold Rush. I’ll admit that this was a bit interesting – even if the writing was still very dry- because I’m not American, so I don’t know a lot of the history that it’s glimpsed in this part of the book.

The ending was ok and things were explained, but what I found weird is that if you have 20 years to plan a crime, you wouldn’t leave so many thing to chance. That didn’t make sense to me and it made me wonder why Sherlock Holmes found the crime so interesting. Anyway, I will give another Sherlok Holmes book a chance, since I think maybe a book with a different case will be more enjoyable for me.

Rating: 3 stars

Have you read any of the Sherlock Holmes books? Which one do you think I should pick up next?

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Book Review: In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream

Title: In An Absent Dream

Author: Seanan McGuire

Published by: Tor.com

Publishing date: January 8th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 187

This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone . . .

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In An Absent Dream has become my favorite book in the Wayward Children series. I found the Goblin Market to be a more fascinating and intricate world than the worlds in other books in the series and I found the whole concept of Fair Value, which is the base of the Market, to be really thought provoking and critical of some of the behaviours and systems we have as a society.

Seanan McGuire takes the writing in this book one step further, it feels even more like a fairytale than the other books and the way in which she tells this cautionary tale is intriguing, because there’s a sort of omnipresent narrator that shows the reader this little glimpses of what’s gonna happen later in the book and that kept me interested and made me want to keep reading until I could found out exactly how thing were gonna play out.

The relationships in this story are very complex and they were of my favorite things about this book.  I loved the friendship between Lundy and Moon and the relationship between Lundy and the Archivist, even if the way those relationships ended kind of dissapointed me. The relationship between Lundy and her father was so interesting and intriguing to me that I wish I got more of it. And lastly, I freaking adored the little bit we saw of the relationship between Lundy and her sister, it was precious.

This book focuses on the moments between adventures, the book mentions that Lundy went questing and defended the Market, but those are not the stories the book is telling. instead, it’s about understanding how the market works and the consequences of not paying fair value. At the beginning, I was a bit disappointed that we were not getting to see Lundy’s adventures, but then I understood that wasn’t neccesary because that wasn’t what the story was about. And also, the events and consequences of those adventures were mentioned enough to answer some of my questions about them while letting the world keep an aura of mystery that was very compelling. I think that’s something Seanan McGuire does very well in all the books in the series, she gives enough information about the world to make it interesting, but there’s things that remain unknown and that way the worlds keep being intriguing.

From the start, you know this book is not gonna have a happy ending, but I didn’t see coming the especific way it ended. I wouldn’t say it was surprising, but I was a bit confused and disappointed in how easily some of the other characters let it happen. I feel like Lundy would have done a lot more to avoid something like that happeneing to the other characters, so I felt a little betrayed in her behalf. But then, I remember that Moon had told Lundy that she would never understanding Fair Value completely, because she wasn’t originally from the Market and I think neither Lundy, as a character, or me, as a reader, completely understood what Fair Value means until the last page of the book. 

Rating: 4,3 stars 

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? Are any fantasy books that you think are similar to this series and that you would recommend?

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Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Title: The Astonishing Color of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan

Published by:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publishing date:  March 20th 2018

Genre: YA, Magical-contemporary

Pages: 462

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

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Trigger Warnings: suicide, depression, suicidal thoughts

Representation: Taiwanese-American main character, Puerto Rican/Filipino love interest,  lots of  Taiwanese characters and a character with depression.

The Astonishing Color of After is a beautifully written bookthe writing style is lyrical and poetic. I’ll admit that I usually have trouble connecting to characters and situations when books have that writing style, but that was not the case with this book, I wasn’t even 10% into it and it had already made me tear up. Later in the book, I did feel the writing distracted me a little from the story, but it was still beautiful.

This is a story about grief and mental illness, especifically depression, and it addresses both of these things in such an amazing and heartbreaking way. This talks about the stigma surrounding depression and how it makes it hard to discuss it with family and friends; it also deals with the feelings and thought process of the loved ones of someone with depression; it portraits how hard depression is and how there’s no easy fix, and it also explores in depth what grief can do to someone. Honestly, this book deals with so many important subjects and it does it so well.

The story is told from Leigh’s point of view, which is interesting, because she is an unreliable narrator and it’s impossible to know which of the things she is seeing and hearing are real. Another reason why Leigh is a compelling narrator is the fact that she is an artist and because of that, she has a particular way of seeing the world, which is really well described and it works well with Emily X.R Pan’s writing.

The development of the relationship between Leigh and her father is one of the most intricate and interesting parts of the story. I wish we had seen more of him in the present and not only in the past, because I feel like at the end so many things between the two of them were resolved in the blink of an eye, with one short conversation between them.

I loved Leigh and Axel together, the evolution of their relationship is told through flashbacks and  I completely fell in love with their dynamic and how sweet Axel is. Also, I really liked the fact that this book didn’t shy away from addressing Leigh’s thoughts and desires about her sexuality. It’s a very sex positive book.

The story did lose me a bit at some point when Leigh was in Taiwan, I hoped that the relationship between her and her grandparents was explored more. There are a few meaningful and sweet moments, but overall, her time in Taiwan felt like it was her going to places and wandering around without getting much out of it. And there was a point where the book started to drag a little. Nonetheless, I did enjoyed the fact that this is set in Taiwan and we get amazing descriptions of food, places, traditions and beliefs. I also want to add that, the way Leigh’s feelings of being out of place with her mother’s family were explored was really interesting, and the way this book portraited- both in flashbacks when Leigh was in the United States and in the present when she was Taiwan- the perception and reactions of other people over her being half-asian and half-white was fascinating.

Lastly, the part of the story that is told through magical memories was great. Those memories are basically where all the big reveals take place and it is a cool and unique way for Leigh to discover the truth about her family and it avoids making the book boring.

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? What other contemporaries with magical elements would you recommend?

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