Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Summary from Goodreads:
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.
As I mentioned on Goodreads, this is the kind of book and the kind of series I already want to reread all over again. I wish I owned this one, instead of getting it from library. I might have to go buy it. Holly Black is a master. I literally spent my first half of my day off in bed, reading this in one sitting. I didn’t even get up for bathroom or snack breaks!
I was nervous I’d have trouble remembering the previous book, but as soon as I started the first page, I got sucked right back into the story. I just love Jude so much. I love how flawed she is. She is so stubborn, but so strong. I love that she just has to know about things back at the court and because of this she gets roped into a fight she doesn’t expect to win. I love that she knows what her flaws are, but it doesn’t stop her.
There was so much I was hoping for in this installment. My inner optimist wanted all the love to happen, but was terrified there was no way all the love I wanted possibly could. And as the ending was getting closer and closer, and it seemed that I was guessing the darkest of all endings was drawing nearer, I almost put the book down, dreading what was to come. But, I’m glad I kept going in one full swoop. Holly Black is just a master at what she does. She gets the darkness, but also the magic and the romance of fairytales in a way no other author does. She makes me both terrified and also entranced and in need of going to this dark, terrible place as much Jude needs to.
I also have come to love Jude’s unique, and growing family of misfits. I love her sister in the mortal world (and her girlfriend). I love her little brother (and heir). I love her twin even though she’s betrayed her in book’s past. I love her spy friends. And I love the weird fairy creatures she befriends and brings to her cause with her strange sense of strength and justice. Jude is just a force. Watching her become the character she finishes the book as, is just a treat. And like I said, I kind of want to go back to the beginning and start afresh. That’s how much I got into this. Oh, and Cardan! He’s grown so much too! It was nice to see some of his character growth as well.
This book is loaded with plot twists, surprise magical moments, romance, family drama, battles, political war, and random moments of humor. I literally was gasping in shock one moment, sobbing tears the next, biting my nails a few second later, and leaping with joy a few seconds after that. You feel all the feels in this one. I loved the end. It felt like a great, dark fairytale ending. These books would make amazing movies. Just saying. I can’t wait to see what Holly Black does next. I give this a 10/10.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Summary from Goodreads:
10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she's just performed her hit song "Heartbeat" in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She's about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She's in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She's very cute. He's maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.
This was not my favorite book. There were things in it that really spoke to me. I love YA books that take place in other countries, particulatly ones I’ve never been to –like China. I love that it was described as a Roman Holiday type story. I love travel romances. Something has just always called to me about them.
I also loved the idea of reading a book from the perspective of a K-pop star! I don’t know a ton about K-pop. But, I’d love to learn more. I took a Korean class in high school, and I’ve always been a little fascinated by the culture. So, I was excited to learn more. I was a little sad that Lucky was pretending to be normal the whole time, and I didn’t really get to see her as herself. I wanted to see her be the K-pop version of her true self. And I didn’t really get to see that until the end. So, it wasn’t the learning expereience I was hoping it would be.
Still, that doesn’t make or break a book for me. And it looked like the book had enough other cuteness going for it. Oh, and the food! I love how much Lucky loves food! I was starving reading this. I want dumplings and noodles so bad, even writing this review! And maybe a hamburger, too.
I guess my real problem stems from the fact that Lucky was drugged up for her big romantic day. And because she was on sleeping pills and anxiety meds (that should have put her to sleep), she wasn’t in the right frame of mind. And this made me hate Jack. Jack mistook her for being drunk…But still, it just felt like he was taking advantage of her. And I never shipped them. Their whole romantic night in the city was just spoiled by this icky feeling of him taking advantage her in this state…and is this the best message for a YA novel? That girls should be falling in love and making huge life–changing decisions while on drugs that are meant to put you to sleep?
And Jack is also working for Tabloids, which is also supposed to bother me. That didn’t really bother me though like the whole Lucky not being in the right frame of mind for the whole night, thing did…And if you’re going to mention anxiety medication, can you then explain why she is on the medicine? It’s never brought up. Her anxiety is brushed aside. Her eating disorder is brushed aside. Her mistreatment by her managers is pushed aside. And then Jack thinking she was drunk is also pushed aside. Nothing is taken seriously enough in my opinion. I would have rated this book so much higher if she was in a more stable state of mind for her romantic night. And if things were taken more seriously. All in all though, I give it a 4/10.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Summary from Goodreads:
It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.
I wrote on Goodreads that I haven’t been this invested in a dystopian story in years. This book is insane. The twists, turns, darkness, and world building are unbelievable. It’s one of the best final books of a series I’ve read in a very long time. To say that Neal Shusterman blew me away again would be an understatement.
Shusterman has this uncanny ability to write both deeply thought-provoking narratives, and not so far-fetched dystopias rooted in current dark political climates. Unwind came from the Woman’s’ Rights movement. This series comes from several things: mass climate change, overpopulation, AI, and government corruption. And wow, can Shusterman connect the dots of a futuristic society to today. There are moments when the evil dictator character is so clearly a shadow version of Trump. But, I don’t even think its’ the tongue and cheek satire a lot of people will read that as. I feel like it’s the author saying: power is power. And anyone with absolute power is corrupt. And isn’t that the theme of almost all dystopias, even the classics like 1984?
There are elements here that remind me of the classics. There are hints of Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Animal Farm. But, also, I saw little inspirational tidbits from The Hunger Games, The Giver, and The Handmaid’s Tale. This author did his research. He respects the dystopias of the past, but also makes a story completely his own. And the book becomes very sci-fi at the end. I will not go into detail about why because I would seriously spoil things if I did. And somehow, remarkably, so much is left out of all descriptions/blurbs/summaries I’ve come across online. And trust me, it’s better to go into this blindly.
Just know that the book is loaded with religious extremism, violence, mass murder, mass prejudice, dangerous law changes in regards to the changes in leadership, insane plot twists, conspiracy theories, computer hacking, underwater scavenging, scythes from around the world, grief, sadness, perseverance, rebellion, and hope. It was hard to put this book down. I had to know what the Thunderhead was planning. I had to know when the characters would all meet up and how. I had to know what on the earth the conspiracies were! And I absolutely had to know what on earth happened to Rown and Citra, really (which I must warn you, does not get addressed for a very long time!).
There were a few moments where things might have seemed a little too convenient for me at the end. And if I thought about things too closely, there might have been a loophole or two, but I honestly don’t care. I was so engrossed in the story, in the world, in the characters, and the outcome. This is the kind of book that first brought me into the YA universe. And it is the kind I crave and hope for all the time. I highly recommend this series. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Good Week in Books (211)

Anyone else feel like they blinked and it’s suddenly the middle of December? This year has been a whirlwind for me.  Everything seems to go by so fast. I haven’t been blogging or reading as much as normal. But, I have gotten a handle on my health issues and I do know a big reason for my less than average reading tendencies has been an increase in severe migraines. I finally seem to be on the right meds/diet for it though (knock on wood) and am kind of getting back into the swing of things. Hopefully, I’ll be back to a more normal reading schedule for 2020.
I read a few books in the past couple of weeks. I had a lovely Thanksgiving with my mom coming to me! I bought a couple of books on Black Friday. And I received one new book for review. So many good books seem to have just come out too! I can’t wait to read them all.
The new books:

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson (signed!)
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim