The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

See the source image

The Cruel Prince, written by Holly Black, is a modern fantasy and a first book in the duology. The second book, The Wicked King, was recently released. It follows Jude, who along with her twin sister Taryn and her half-sister Vivienne, was taken to the fairy world by Vivienne’s true father.

This book was very highly anticipated, and people either loved it or hated it. I personally liked it. My favorite element was the school that Jude attended with the other fey her age; it gave a unique twist on a fantasy story that made it different from the others. Jude as a character was aggressive and impulsive, but I didn’t mind. I found myself thrilled when she kept fighting the bullying of Prince Cardan and his trio.

A problem many people seem to bring up is the romance between Jude and a certain character. In my opinion, there wasn’t a romance at all. At the end of the book the character confesses how he can’t stop thinking about her and then they kiss but for no reason? There wasn’t any reason for them to and they didn’t seem to enjoy it nor did they talk about it again so that was very strange. From what my friends and I can tell, there is no relationship between them because Jude doesn’t like him still and she betrayed him at the end, losing his trust and likely any romance they might have had.

I liked how the story brought out my emotions. I felt exhilarated while Jude argued with Cardan, sad when Jude complained about being mortal, and angry when betrayals occur. I loved how the mortal world was mixed in and how they would travel between realms, which added to the uniqueness of the novel. I did not like how the fey are as they are in every book: so incredibly perfect and beautiful that mortals can’t begin to compare. I don’t understand why this matters so much when writing about the fey, but it needs to end. This book would have been so much better if the world were expanded. How big is the realm? Is it only as small as the map in the beginning? If so, the author should have no trouble going in depth into all the places. I feel as though this depth would have made the story leave a more lasting effect on me. The writing style was very nice and easy to read, and the imagery was wonderful.

I would rate The Cruel Prince 8/10 dragons, for the unique twist on fey stories and the emotions it brought from me.

Advertisements

Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas

See the source image

Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas, is the sixth book in the seven-book series (not including the novella) Throne of Glass. I would suggest not reading this review if you plan on reading the series because it may give away important details. The book strays from our protagonist, Aelin Galathynius and instead focuses on Chaol Westfall, who in the previous book suffered a paralyzing injury that sent him off to Antica, in the Southern Continent. Once there, Chaol works with healer Yrene Towers to heal his injuries and recruit the Antica military in aiding the war effort against Maeve.

Most everyone was weary heading into this book. Chaol is one of the supporting characters who has been in the series since its inception, although certain events led to Aelin distancing herself from him, thus making the reader not care about him as much as they used to. I was surprised by Maas’ choice of making the novel from Chaol’s point of view, but as it was the seventh book, and I had to read it. It started off extremely slow because the reader was trying to understand Chaol again and find reasons to care about him. Around a hundred pages in, the book starts to pick up and became impossible to put down. Maas made a wonderful decision by making Chaol the protagonist because he was the one character that I felt I didn’t have a strong connection to, and by making this novel, Maas was able to make the readers like him again. It also gave important background to crucial characters such as Yrene and why the Antica kingdom decided to help the war effort.

Most people don’t read the Novella, The Assassin’s Blade, because they think they don’t need to, but I would highly suggest reading it before Tower of Dawn because you will get further background on Yrene and her interactions with Aelin and it’s a very fun book overall. Yrene is an incredibly lovable character, and her relationship with Chaol started off rough but evolved interestingly. I don’t quite understand what was going on between Nesryn and Chaol because I couldn’t remember from the last book, but they had a very strange relationship. The chapters from Nesryn’s point of view only got interesting in the last couple hundred pages, unfortunately. She’s a wonderful character but in the first 400 pages, she didn’t do much.

There was a lot of representation in race and sexuality in this book, which I know a lot of people have been waiting for. The whole Southern Continent is full of darker skinned characters and one of the princess’ is in a relationship with a woman. In her other books, there tends to be a lot of graphic scenes, but this one didn’t have many. There is little representation in body type, which is extremely annoying considering even the strong women who train vigorously every day still have no visible muscles and curvy waists, which doesn’t anatomically make sense considering how strong they are.
What I didn’t like was how Chaol’s personality changed. When I look way back to Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, I remembered him not so much the whiny, tough, and brooding man he is here. Unless I remember him wrong, his personality upset me a bit and just reminded me of a more watered-down Rowan Whitethorn. You might think this was because of character development, but the character felt almost foreign to me, which isn’t a good thing.

I feel as though, as usual, Maas could have cut down a hundred pages, because there were so many parts that seemed unnecessary. I feel as though she could have spent more time developing the world. I’m not sure if we will get to see the Southern Continent again, but the kingdom and the whole southern part of the continent have been left unexplored.

I would rate Tower of Dawn 7/10 dragons simply for my love of the series and the new developments. Negative dragons for the slow first 150 pages.

Review of “The Keeper of the Lost Cities” series, by Shannon Messenger

Book cover for "Keeper of the Lost Cities." A young woman and a young man are clinging onto either side of the top of a metal tower, which is topped by a lit lamp.

“The Keeper of the Lost Cities” is not a super well known series, at least among the people at my school, but I found all of the seven books (so far) to be very enjoyable.

Sophie has a big secret. She can read minds. Starting when she was five, she could hear everyone’s thoughts.

Also, she is an unusually smart girl. She is in college and sticks out like a sore thumb among her classmates. She also feels like she doesn’t fit in among her family, being a skinny, blonde-haired, brown-eyed girl in a family of overweight, brown-haired, green-eyed people.

In an instant, Sophie is ripped away from the life she knew when a mysterious, handsome elf named Fitz finds her and tells her that she is not a human but an elf, like him. Sophie is forced to leave behind her family and join the world of elves.

(Just so you know, elves in this series are not North Pole elves or “Lord of the Rings” elves. They are pretty much humans, but they can live for thousands of years, and they stop aging at twenty.)

Once Sophie has joined the community of elves, she notices that something strange is going on. One day, she accidentally finds out about something called Project Moonlark, but nobody will tell her what it is.

What is Project Moonlark? Will Sophie ever belong in the elven or human worlds? Find out by reading “The Keeper of the Lost Cities” series.

Rating: 5/5 stars! It is one of the best series I’ve read.

Ages: 11-15

Charming Academy 2 – Review

Finding Prince Charming cover image. A horse standing on a path in the woods. The path is covered in red and orange leaves.

Finding Prince Charming, by Jessica L. Elliot.

This book is the second in the Charming Academy Series, and is about Princess Allegra and her quest to find Adrian, who disappeared during their fourth year at school. Allegra is more than a little worried about being the one going questing, but she will do anything to find Adrian.

(*Spoilers for the first book are included, and foreshadowing for this and following books are included, sorry.*)

Some things that we know about Allegra, just to give some perspective on where we are:

  • Allegra is Lucian’s sister.
  • She is stubborn and determined and fiercely loyal but lets her doubts rule sometimes.
  • Has a close relationship with her parents, grandparents, friends from school, and her brother especially.
  • Was the year behind her prince’s year, and so her last year of schooling is just her and Clarissa at school because her older friends are already on their quests.
  • Has a special necklace from Adrian the night he disappeared.
  • Flew into a rage and didn’t forgive people for a long time after Adrian’s disappearance, she loved him and needed to blame something.
  • Gets some lovely classes to help prepare her to do the searching for Adrian on her quest.
  • Loves Adrian lots and vowed to do anything to find him again.
  • Is deathly terrified of frogs.

Some basic knowledge of Adrian:

  • Is Lucian’s best friend.
  • Has a rocky family relationship that is resolved before he disappears.
  • Never broke any rules, was cursed for sticking out his tongue at friends by Lucretia, one of the school witches.
  • Doesn’t like swimming.
  • Is incredibly loyal and kind.
  • Starts to shrink, loose hair, go into hibernation in cold weather, and so forth as he turns into a frog slowly.
  • Goes and makes a deal with the witches the night before the winter meeting with the princesses in his fourth year so that he can look normal.
  • Gave Allegra her special necklace to remember him by.
  • His last words to Allegra an instant before he disappeared were that he loves her.
  • Is transported to Lucian and Allegra’s family’s castle by the sea as a frog to wait for Allegra to come find him.
  • Is heartbroken when Allegra sees him and runs away because he is a frog.
  • Gets to wait around as a frog, of all things, for Allegra to come save him.

In this book, Allegra gets to go questing for Adrian, the opposite of what she’d always believed would happen. She takes new classes her last two years of school to prepare her for the dangers of searching, along with learning the finer points of becoming a lady. Adrian gets to face the dangers of life as a frog, which can become incredibly difficult, especially in a fairytale quest where someone may be out to ruin said frog’s happily ever after.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It addressed the fact that the girls can do the questing and face just as many trials while waiting, which Adrian showed well. This was a fun and lighthearted twist on the Princess and the Frog that was action packed and serious enough to make it a good read for middle school kids. I also enjoyed the number of outside forces that affect this couple’s fairytale, but no dragons. This was kind of nice, to show that there are more dangers in the world than those that are just the biggest and most threatening at a glance.

Charming Academy Series (book 1) – Review

 

 

The Charming Academy Series is written by Jessica L. Elliott, and consists of six books, including Charming Academy, Finding Prince Charming, Prince Charming’s Search, Becoming Prince Charming, The Ultimate Prince Charming, and Prince Charming’s Quest. Yes, that is a lot of Prince Charmings. I know.

The first book, Charming Academy, is the beginning. As the title suggests, this is at an academy for young princes who are on their path to become a Prince Charming. In this fairy tale reproduction, the name “Prince Charming” is more than a name, it is an honorary title that the young men receive after completing their quest. Yes, that is not very detailed, but you can’t expect me to give everything away right now, can you?

Our main character is a young prince named Lucian. He is mainly the character followed throughout the first book, and the following books are centered around each other main character’s quest after schooling. Now to the actual book.

A little organizational information that you will learn in the book, but I can’t very well explain without describing a little (Don’t worry, I won’t give away anything super important): Prince Charming Academy for Boys is a school that works in association with Fair Damsels Academy for Young Ladies. Lucian is enrolled at the boys’ school to begin his schooling and preparation for his quest which will take place at the end of his sixth year.

Within his education, he learns about all the things a prince must do on a typical quest. He learns to fight dragons and about spell breaking, the ins and outs of hunting and survival, languages of dragons and mermaids along with his normal math, science, and language arts classes. He and his friends must overcome the challenges of being teenage boys, learning to get along with their princesses, schoolwork, and staying on the right side of the witches in charge of punishment at the school. With magic surrounding them, they must prepare as best they can to make a wonderful fairy tale out of their quest.

The Charming Academy Series is a retelling of some of our most well-known and loved fairy tales, including Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, the Princess and the Frog, and many others. I greatly enjoyed the series, as I love fantasy. The books show both the prince and princess’ views of a fairytale, with plenty of humor, challenges, and romance to keep the story rolling. I think it is a very good series for middle school kids, because of the interesting tale, the age of the characters, and length. The series shows all of the adventure that is sometimes skipped in retelling. This is so much more than the common “a beautiful princess was locked in a tower and waited and waited for a long time till her Prince Charming rode in on a majestic horse and saved her with true love’s kiss the end.” It includes everything needed to be sweet and adventurous at the same time, with lots of entertainment as the characters and their growth as individuals as well.

I do have to admit that while this series is one of my favorite reading pastime series, it does get a little boring sometimes. The plot will drag or get repetitive sometimes, which is understandable, and I also think that the copies I have at least are her rougher versions. I don’t know if the author has had more edits and publication recently, but my copies of the series do have some grammatical and spelling errors, and the detail is sometimes far too much or little given in some sections, in my opinion of course. As frustrated as I get by these errors sometimes, I also appreciate them greatly, because I think it shows that the author did not necessarily write the series to be pretty and perfect and sell for lots all over the world, but really so that she could share the basics of the fairy tales she so loved as a child that she worked to make “cool enough” for her brother (this is how the series was first created, her brother told her that fairy tales were for girls and she set out to change that). It shows that she really just wanted to share her stories. To be completely honest, the books are rather unpolished. But they are lots of fun to read as the normal fairy tales we all know take a new perspective.

Fablehaven 5 – Review

 

Fablehaven – Keys to the Demon Prison, by Brandon Mull, is the fifth and final book in the Fablehaven series

This is it, folks, the last book in the Fablehaven series, tied for first on my favorites in the series. I’ll be honest, this and the third are my first place winners, then the fourth is my second favorite, and the first and second are my third, but not necessarily my least favorites. Even though that is technically what the not top favorites means. Oh well. You all know what I mean. Hopefully.

*For the last time this series, SPOILERS MAY DWELL WITHIN. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Dun dun dun.*

Alright, the end is coming. As Kendra and Seth prepare for what they hope will not mean the end of the world, they realize that they really are among the only ones who can save this. After facing heartbreaking betrayals and emotional trauma, and time after time again escaped certain death, these two incredible kids are up against what they hoped they wouldn’t have to face. But the Sphinx has the artifacts, the power, the minions, and, as if that wasn’t enough, their parents. The Zzyzx’s opening seems eminent and the only way that they can seem to save the world now is to prepare to keep the demons in, even if it means war. Racing around the world, Kendra and Seth try to intercept the artifacts and gather allies, bargaining for knowledge and searching for weapons. They have their fairykind and shadowcharmer abilities, but fighting the Sphinx never has been and never will be easy, so all they can do is prepare as well they can and hope that all will end well.

This was the last book in the Fablehaven series and I was pretty sad, wanting to know more and have more adventures with Kendra and Seth, though I knew they deserved a break from the constant near death experiences. But, I am so happy, because Brandon Mull has started a second series about them, its called Dragonwatch and I will write reviews on those books too. I recommend both of these series all the way, for fantasy lovers who love action and build up and magical creatures.

I would give this book a 4.9 / 5, I love it, it is a great end to the series while still allowing Mull a way to add to it indirectly, and is a very good blend of action and sentiment and humor and romance and teasing all the way through.

Fablehaven 4 – Review

 

Fablehaven – Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, by Brandon Mull

This is the fourth book in the Fablehaven series, and probably my second favorite. There is lots of dramatic action and danger, all happening to require Seth and Kendra’s help (wink).

*Spoilers! again. As I’ve said in the other reviews, there may be spoilers for the other books, as hard as I try to avoid them. You have been warned! … many many times … oh well.*

*Also, slight hints at what happens in this book. But it’s pretty safe to read anyway,  the back cover of the book exposes about the same amount that I do. You’ll be fine.*

Seth and Kendra have been through a lot, and then what happens in this book shows just how unfair life can be, and how awful fighting can mess up people’s lives. The emotional trauma that these two have gone through and continue to face is just incredible when you think about it, and that made me wary to keep reading each book before I started each one, because, yes, it’s really cool and all the adventures and friendships and all the incredible things they get to do, but all the awful things that these two have faced is really traumatizing when you stop to think about it. It’s amazing that they keep going. So there’s a slight foreboding hint for you.

So this book has them after another hidden artifact to get before the Society of the Evening Star does, to try and stop further mass destruction by the Society, as per usual. This time they are off to another preserve, but this is one of the seven dragon sanctuaries, Wyrmroost.  Facing danger at every turn, and constantly being painfully aware that they are just kids in a big world, Kendra and Seth set out to prove that they can handle saving the world, as daunting as the task may be.

I really enjoyed this book. It is definitely right up there in my favorite re-reads of this series, which I realize I’ve probably told you lots of times. Hey, I’m just trying to get my point across. I would probably give this a 4.7 / 5, I love the plot and adventures. I just have favorites, so I am a little biased. Oh well, I hope you are enjoying the series too if you’re reading it and/or already have.