Monday, February 26, 2018

The Cruel Prince Review

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
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.

I had hit a bit of a book slump recently. I had read all of the new books I had acquired and decided to reread Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series to keep my reading juices flowing. I saw The Cruel Prince advertised on FB but never bothered clicking on it. Then someone recommended it in one of the Young Adult reading groups I'm in, so I thought 'why not?'. If it's good enough for someone to recommend to over 1000 strangers then they must feel confident that it's a damn good read. There's not a lot I love more than a good book/book series recommendation. It's affirmation that I'm not the only truly avid reader out there, there are others. And they will talk books with me any time. It's amazing. 

I didn't bother reading the synopsis before reading the book. I just jumped right into it. Looking back on the synopsis now, I'm glad I didn't read it. It really doesn't do this book any justice. This was my first Faerie novel, I had seen glimpses of them in other series but never really got to know too much about who/what they are or their folklore. I didn't expect to find them very interesting to read about. However, Holly Black made them far more interesting than I could have imagined. As a people she made them contradictory in personality; they come across as cold and unfeeling, but they have a hidden warmth to them that is definitely not easily accessible or understood. They have a hierarchy that applies and is imposed no matter the age of the fae, and no one questions the wisdom in having older and wiser fae bending to the will of younger royal fae. They're so bizarre which makes them that much more intriguing; you find yourself reading in part, because you want to know more about them. 

The story itself was brilliant, original and heartbreaking for the majority of it. During the first half of the book I was having a hard time with the subject matter because there is so much abuse going on, much of it affecting the main character Jude. It was hard to read. It's always inspirational to read about young main characters facing the most horrific circumstances and coming out of it stronger than even the reader themselves are. Jude is a teenager now and has made a goal for herself, a goal that no one supports or believes in, but her. She is truly one of the loneliest characters I've read about in a long time, but it has made her self sufficient and capable beyond her years.

There were so many twists and turns in this book that I was always on edge, suspicious of everyone, wondering what was going to happen next. I usually make theories as I go along in books about how they will end, how the characters will fare, and in this book theorizing was almost impossible as almost every chapter brought a new change/challenge that completely turned the direction of the book. It was brilliant writing. 

There were only a few drawbacks to this book, one being that there were definitely times when the writing was a little drawn out. During the historic bits I tended to tune out a bit as they were dull. Thankfully there weren't many. I was also bored with Vivi's story line, which was disappointing as her character has such potential to be a serious force in this series given her lineage and personality. Unfortunately she seems more intent on escaping Faerie than getting revenge for what her father did to her mother. Ultimately I am most disappointed with the timeline for this series. I hate waiting for books to be released. I hate when the book has such presence that when it ends you need more immediately, only to find that you have to wait a year for the sequel and then another year on top of that for the conclusion. By the time the next book comes out I am sure I will have forgotten why I wanted to read it so badly. That's not to say this book isn't worth the wait, I just wish that I had waited to read it closer to the date of the sequel.

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Monday, February 19, 2018

In the Absence of a Body Review

In the Absence of a Body (A Frankie Wilson Story, Book 2)
By: K Britt-Badman


Frankie's left reeling by the shocking news of Verity Froom's apparent suicide. A stark threat, daubed in paint on her front door, confirms Frankie's belief that Verity's death was not a suicide—but murder. Before she can voice her suspicions, she finds herself fighting for her life.

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of Verity's killer, a high-speed police chase ensues. The police confirm that the killer has drowned but they can't find the body.

Frankie isn't convinced that the killer's dead. In fact, she's certain that the killer is still alive and continuing to stalk her a year on, but no one believes her. Frankie continues to live in fear for her life. Is Frankie right? Will the killer strike again? 

I was so excited when I was contacted by the author and asked to review this book for her. I loved the first installment and was excited to read the sequel to it. Especially as it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I needed to know what happened to Frankie! So thank you, K Britt-Badman, for the opportunity to read and review your book before it's release date.

If you read the first Frankie Wilson Story and liked it as much as I did then you already have high hopes for this book, and if you haven't read the first one, what the heck are you waiting for?? Read it already! I am pleased to report that this book is much like the first one, and you will not be disappointed. In the Absence of a Body began right where In the Strictest Confidence left off, which I was grateful for, I wanted to know immediately what happened with Frankie after the way the first book ended. The first couple of chapters had me on the edge of my seat as the author wrapped up the dramatic events of the first book. I was glad that she didn't drag it on throughout the whole book, making this a continuation of the first. It makes In the Absence of a Body a novel in it's own right, instead of having this book ride on the coat tails of the first book, lending it a glory that it doesn't wholly deserve. 

One of my most favorite facets of Frankie is her profession. I found some of the most interesting parts of this book to be during Frankie's counselling sessions. Her clients are always interesting and their stories and problems are fascinating. The writing of these sessions by the author is beyond impressive, not only does she give each character a complex personality but she also writes about them in such a way that I find myself contemplating each character more than I normally would; questioning the depths of their problems, their actions in response to their feelings, the way they might affect Frankie outside of her office, how dangerous they may be. That's right, I became a little paranoid while reading this book, so I understood where Frankie was coming from. There were a number of times while reading this that I was creeped out and I am still unable to ascertain if that is because the story was creepy at those points or if it was just really great writing. 

Another facet of Frankie that I enjoy is that her character is definitely relate-able making her seem more realistic. I love the fact that she juggles the struggles of being a single parent, the financial hardship of being the sole provider for her household, trying to increase her client-base, and trying to have some semblance of a personal life. Her problems are very much true to life problems, especially the parenting ones. It's refreshing to read about a woman who knows she is not a perfect mother, and doesn't concern herself with trying to achieve that title. She makes mistakes, she tries her best to prioritize her kids first and spend as much time with them as she can. She does her best to stay on top of them and be aware of what's happening in their lives, but we get to see her struggle with that as sometimes life gets in the way and things get pushed back to be dealt with later. I love that her overall message is that she is the does her best to be a good parent, and her kids are happy, loved and well adjusted and that's the best that any parent can ask for.

The villain in this novel was a bit of a surprise, although the author gave us an indication of who it was towards the end of the book. The dramatic events and villain were all multifaceted, keeping the reader on their toes with trying to solve the mystery as to who was stalking Frankie throughout the whole book. The culmination was great and I was a little relieved that there was no cliffhanger at the end of the book. I am hoping that there will be a third installment in the Frankie Wilson Story as I cannot get enough of K Britt-Badman's writing.

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) review

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)
By: Sarah J. Maas

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

I want to start this review by first admitting that Chaoll Westfall has never been a favorite character of mine. At one point I used to dread his parts entirely because I found both his personality and his story lines to be very dull. It's pretty safe to say then when I found out that this installment of Throne of Glass was entirely about Chaol I did not rush out to buy it. I knew at some point I would have to read it or else that last installment (due out this year!! Woo Hoo!!) would probably not make as much sense to me. Luckily, I was given this book as a gift from my other half (thanks, babe!) and though I may not have been excited about the amount of Chaol I was about to digest, who could ever turn up their nose at a Sarah J Maas book?? She is a brilliant writer, and I knew that no matter what I would not be disappointed at the end of the book. I was so right.

This book was about Chaol and Nesryn's journey to Antica, for Chaol to be healed from the injury he received in the Queen of Shadows book and I looked forward to exploring a new place with new characters. It's always exciting to see what the mind of Mass will create next for her readers. This time she came up with a royal family with an interesting way of selecting the next heir, a group of prominent magical healers and potential new allies in the great war that's coming. 

One thing that disappoints me about Chaol's character is that he never evolves in any way. His thought processes, actions and values always stay the same no matter how much the world around him changes and evolves, or how much he learns about the wonders of this fantasy world. He's a bit of a caveman in that respect. Don't get me wrong he is still protective, observant, caring and mindful of the people and places around him, however because he comes at every new obstacle in much the same way as the last, his story lines tend to get stale quickly as the reader already knows what to expect of this character. I had hoped that during this 664 page tomb he would grow and become slightly more unpredictable, thus making him more interesting but unfortunately that didn't happen, and as such there were quite a lot of dry parts is this novel.

The new characters that Maas brought in were all rather interesting though, my favorite being Yrene. By the end of the book I could just feel that Yrene will be playing a very big part in the war, not that I expect her to survive to see the aftermath of it. Her character is powerful in a way that we hadn't seen yet and that power, combined with her extraordinary empathy was so refreshing to read. She definitely brings a lot of character and vigor to the series and I am very excited to see what she does next and how she handles meeting Aelin for the first time. 

Actually, one thing I can definitely say about this book is that it has built up so much excitement in me for the final installment that I cannot wait for October for it to come out! I am beyond excited to see the entire rag-tag cast of characters from all of the books finally culminate into an incredibly powerful force. The war is going to be something to behold that is for sure. 

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fated (Relentless #6) Review

Fated (Relentless #6)
By: Karen Lynch

Christian Kent has many labels – warrior, protector, friend, lover – but the one label he never wanted was mate. In his lifetime, the only girl he has ever loved, was the one he couldn’t have. He left her to protect her heart, but his own will always belong to her.

As a girl, the one person she believed would never hurt her broke her heart. Now a warrior, she’s loving life and living for the next adventure. She’s put the past behind her, including the man who walked out of her life.

Fate brought them together once, and it’s not done with them yet. When they are suddenly thrown together to battle a lethal new foe, sparks fly and old feelings resurface. Chris will have to work hard to heal the rift between them. But will she be able to let go of the old heartbreak and open her heart to him again? Can they come together before the threat they are facing tears them apart forever?

The anticipation I had while waiting for this book to be released (it was released yesterday!) almost killed me. I so badly wanted to stay in the Relentless world that I reread the first five books more times than I care to admit and joined a few Relentless/Karen Lynch FB groups to satisfy myself with their Fated theories and discussions. I have to say doing so may have been a misstep for me. I was so caught up in all of the 'release day' hype and every group member's excited posts about how they had gotten their books and how "amazing" it was and how they absolutely loved it. Literally, so many posts from different people about how great this book is had me thinking non-stop about how I could not wait until it was released in Canada. Unfortunately for me I had to work on release day, but I get off fairly early and finished this book the same night I began it.

I have always loved Chris's character. I love how fearlessly he teases Nikolas all through the Relentless trilogy about his bond with Sara, I love how he knows how attractive he is and flirts shamelessly with every female he comes into contact with and I love how he's always fiercely protective of people he cares about. That said, I began this book with expectations of how Chris would behave and react based on the previous novels, and was a little let down when his personality didn't shine through in this book as it had in the others. I fully understand how the bond affects/changes Mohiri males, and that Chris was fully focused on Beth throughout the book, but I felt that he had become someone completely different. He was far less playful, teasing and generally fun. I don't think he teased anyone but Beth during this book which is completely out of character for him.

I liked Beth's character. She's very much like Jordan, just less intense. It was nice to see another Mohiri female in her ass-kicking glory. She also brought with her a new dynamic to the story since she had grown up Mohiri as opposed to Sara who was new to all of it. We got a glimpse at what her upbringing was like as well as the decision's she got to make for herself and her life after she graduated from the institute. The only reservation I had in regards to her character is how emotionally weak she came across. I felt that she held a grudge against Chris for far too long taking it to unreasonable lengths at certain points. 

I think my favorite component of this book was the villain. It was so refreshing to read about someone/something new and intimidating. It was fun to watch the conflict begin relatively small and then become something so large it spanned beyond the city's reach. Karen gave us little hints throughout the book to help us piece the puzzle together before the finale, and while I had already figured out who the villain was it didn't stop my surprise when I realized that I was only partially right. I also really enjoyed reading the fight scenes between the villains and anyone who was in their way. I think my favorite, though we only got to see a glimpse of it, was the Blue Nyx scene. It also lent the Blue Nyx characters some humanity, for lack of a better word. It's always nice to see even the smallest of characters show us a little of who they are.

Of course, the bonus scene given to us by Karen was such a treat. I will be honest when I say that I was happy with the way she ended Sara and Nikolas' story. The odd peek at their life in Haven and Fated only cemented the fact that they are happy; the rest I can make up in my imagination. But to get an official update (and from Nikolas's POV!) on their well-being by the author was extremely satisfying. Again, I am good if Karen decides not to write anymore about Nikolas and Sara centrally. I am happy for them to appear in the background of other characters stories (please Karen, give us a Jordan story!!). I am content in the knowledge that Nikolas and Sara have their happily ever after. 

Again, I want to reiterate that I did like this book. I didn't love it as I did with the first ones, but I will never say that it disappointed me either. I absolutely plan on buying the hard copy version, hopefully signed to go with the rest of my set, and rereading it multiple times down the road. I just wish Chris's character had a little more flavor. 

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Sunday, February 11, 2018

In a Dark, Dark Wood Review

In a Dark, Dark Wood
By: Ruth Ware

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. 

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room.... 

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

I bought this book for my sister for Christmas because of the creepy yet cool cover. It drew me in. As well as the endorsement from Reese Witherspoon at the bottom of the cover illustrating how scary the book is. (Side note, did you know she had a book club and reviewed books? I didn't. And based on her comments about this book, I'm not entirely sure I trust her opinion!). My sister is in the middle of another series and hasn't yet read this book, so I borrowed it. And I'm glad I did! It's always a bit of a gamble buying a book you haven't read and giving it as a gift. It's the first time I've ever done it, I always play the safe route and give something I know and love. I think it paid off this time though. 

I began the book with the preconceived notion that it would be suspenseful and and terrifying. I was a little let down when I learned it wasn't that scary at all, but at the end of the book I realized I wasn't all that disappointed given the way the story went. There were definitely times I was creeped the fuck out, there were times when I was questioning everything and everyone, writing them all off as suspicious and guilty. The author set up the perfect environment for the story in a large, glass walled house set in the middle of a remote forest. There were no close neighbours, no cell service, no internet and at one point their only phone line out of the house to the real world was down as well. Honestly, the idea of that place alone gives me the willies. Throw in the notion of people being able to hide in the woods and clearly see everyone inside the house, as though they're in a fish bowl and potential intruders/vandals and I was telepathically screaming at all those characters to get the hell out of there!

The eclectic group of 6 people were all at the house to celebrate the future bride, Claire, in what the Brits apparently call a 'hen weekend'. How I love British dialect! The protagonist of the story is Nora, who has no idea why she's been invited as she and Claire haven't spoken in several years, or why she feels obligated to go. She spends most of the time at the house with their mutual friend Nina (who I love!) feeling out of place and trying to concoct a reason that would allow them to leave early. On the second night of the weekend things in the house take a turn for the worse for poor Nora and she finds herself wishing she had never gone on the hen weekend.

The antagonist of the book was definitely not who I thought it was going to be, actually I was completely blindsided by the incident that took place in the house and struggled along with Nora to try to figure out what happened. The story flips back and forth from past - the prior 2 days in the house, to present - Nora in the hospital with no memory of how she got there. 

I was so engaged with the book about halfway through that I don't think I stopped reading, until I was finished it, to do anything except relocate from the upstairs couch to the basement couch. The first half of the book was a little slow, but once it picked up it felt as though it never stopped and every part of it was intriguing. My only real complaint was that I felt the end of the book was a little open ended. Unless this was part one of a series, Nora's story should have been more complete. I don't understand how anyone could live through what she did and then just go home and carry on as though nothing ever happened. It should have changed her somehow.

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Don't Bait Me Review

Don't Bait Me (Nora Jacobs #3) By: Jackie May Now that Nora has been outed as an underworlder, all she wants to do is lay low, figure...