The Cruel Prince: A Review

“True power isn’t granted. True power can’t be taken away.”

cover art for The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackTen years ago Jude’s parents were murdered and she and her sisters were stolen away to the High Court of Faerie. Life at Court is a constant nightmare full of treachery and danger–especially for mortal children like Jude and her twin sister, Taryn.

Raised among the fey, Jude is painfully aware that she is not one of them the way her older sister, Vivi, is with her furred ears and cat eyes. She knows better than to fall for the seductive beauties of the fey or to ever believe they can see her as an equal. But that doesn’t stop her from striving for that recognition and approval, always grasping for that means of protection.

Drawn into a web of intrigue and deceptions, Jude finds her chance to make a place at Court while moving herself into the center of violence that threatens to break the Faerie Courts apart. Raised on strategy and brutality, Jude can see a way out of the conflict but only if she aligns with the person she hates most–Cardan, the youngest son of the High King and the one member of Court determined to make sure she never forgets her mortality. Jude and Cardan have spent years circling each other, hating each other, but it’s only as they begin to work together toward a common goal that they begin to understand each other in The Cruel Prince(2018) by Holly Black.

The Cruel Prince is the start of Black’s new trilogy, The Folk of the Air. Set in the same world as her other faerie novels it also references back in small ways to her Modern Faerie Tales series and The Darkest Part of the Forest.

Jude’s first person narration is pragmatic to the point of being fatalistic even while adopting the lilting cadence of the faerie creatures who surround her. Jude has no illusions about her place in the hierarchy of the High Court or her expendability. While Vivi tolerates living among the fey and Taryn sees the beauties amongst the dangers, all Jude sees is the savagery. She knows that her only chance to survive and find her place among the fey is through power–a strategy she has learned all too well from her adopted father, Madoc. Madoc, a violent redcap, also murdered Jude’s real parents leaving Jude uncertain of her footing even in her own family.

Every victory Jude has earned down below with the faeries is hard won; every lesson painfully learned. Thanks to her repeated encounters with Cardan, Jude is especially well-versed in hate. She hates Cardan beyond all reason and he hates her nearly as much. But as fans of the classic film Gilda know all too well, hate can be a very exciting emotion and Jude and Cardan’s interactions practically sizzle as a result–even while they are doing everything they can to destroy each other.

Everything in The Cruel Prince is very artfully done. Jude’s story is about politics, intrigue, and fear—particularly being afraid but charging ahead anyway. Because there is no other option. Intricate plotting and a restrained narration make for a very clever conclusion as quite a few of Jude’s cards are laid on the table only to raise more questions for what will happen next in the series.

For Jude there are no good choices. Similarly, it’s hard to say if there are any good people among the High Court. Thanks to the strength of Black’s writing, that hardly matters. It takes real skill to take the villain of the story and make him not just sympathetic but precious. It takes as much work to have a first person narrator who is ruthlessly cold and calculating while also being devastatingly human and compassionate. The Cruel Prince is a must read for faerie enthusiasts, high fantasy connoisseurs, and especially for anyone looking for a book filled with twists that will leave them breathless. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2017*

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Week in Review January 20: I am very tired and trying to be very merry

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

 

It’s been a long week. I play caregiver a lot and I didn’t really think this week would be that different but it was a lot harder and more stressful than previously–probably because there is more wound care involved and also probably from post traumatic stress. Especially toward the end of the week it just started to feel like every single thing I tried to do took at least twice as long as it should have and everything was a struggle. Do you ever have days like that? How do you knuckle through?

I also know a lot more about iTunes now because I had to re-install my entire music library to my phone after changing a setting erased everything. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and I was ready but god it’s tedious and annoying. I know streaming music is the big thing right now but I just am not comfortable to subscribe to a service and no longer own my actual music, you know?

I wanted to write two reviews every day this week. I almost did but lost momentum at the end. It was still a huge help to get down my review backlog either way.

I have a birthday this weekend and am also trying to celebrate it. Don’t ask how. As of this writing I’m still not sure.

I’m posting every day on Instagram this year. Here’s some of my latest:

I didn’t expect to become a Leigh Bardugo fan when I first read Six of Crows the year it came out. 📚📚📚 Imagine my surprise when this hybrid heist fantasy wound up becoming an immediate favorite for me. So much so that I wound up preordering Crooked Kingdom and attending the launch party. (And loving it of course.) 📚📚📚 Despite not reading the original Shadow and Bone trilogy I was very excited when to read The Language of Thorns (especially after seeing the gorgeous sampler) and downright thrilled to have the opportunity to review it before its release for SLJ. 📚📚📚 Obviously I am now on board for all things Grisha and planning to loop back and read the Shadow and Bone books before King of Scars hits shelves next year. 📚📚📚 What books have become unexpected favorites for you? Which fandoms have taken you completely by surprise? 📚📚📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booknerd #yalit #yabooks #instareads #books #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #book #booklove #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #grishaverse #thelanguageofthorns

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I’ve been thinking a lot about duologies lately. It’s a comparatively new form for a series that’s been getting a lot of traction lately—especially in YA. 📚📚📚 I like duologies because they’re easy to commit to and also it’s a form that makes design and writing choices more overt as the two books work with each other and mirror each other while being totally different books. 📚📚📚 One of my favorite duos is Passenger and Wayfarer by @alexbracken. This series travels across the globe and through time as Etta discovers her heritage as a time traveler and works with privateer and fellow traveler Nicholas to preserve time and stay together. 📚📚📚 Have you read this series? Do you like duologies? What’s your favorite? 📚📚📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booknerd #yalit #yabooks #instareads #books #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #book #booklove #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #alexandrabracken #bookseries

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My current aesthetic is on brand across all platforms. 📚📚📚 Got to love bright white books with multicolor accents and a matching phone case and bookmark. 📚📚📚 First up is Warcross by Marie Lu. Emika Chen is on the edge and looking down when a failed hack glitches her into the biggest virtual reality game of the year and catches the attention of the game’s creator (and her idol) Hideo Tanaka. Secretly hired by Hideo to find a mysterious hacker, Emika is thrust into the dizzying world of the Warcross championship as she has to compete with her team, identify her fellow bounty hunters, and find the hacker before it’s too late. But the deeper Emika delves into the underworld of Warcross the more she realizes that nothing is as it seems. 📚📚📚 In Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction Derek Thompson explores what makes a hit with surprising results as he examines how exposure, familiarity, and other factors play into the often ineffable quality of popular appeal. This is approachable nonfiction at its best and a must read for anyone with more than a passing interest in pop culture. 📚📚📚 What are you reading today? Do the covers match as well as these do? 📚📚📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booknerd #yalit #yabooks #instareads #books #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #book #booklove #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #warcross #hitmakers

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Here are links to the other posts from this week:

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my January reading tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Starfish: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

cover art for Starfish by Akemi Dawn BowmanAll of Kiko Himura’s hopes are pinned on getting accepted to Prism–her dream art school. At Prism Kiko knows that it won’t matter that she’s half-Japanese and knows barely anything about her own culture. She won’t need to regret her failed relationships with her brothers. She’ll be able to get away from her mother who is alternately suffocating and neglectful. Best of all, Kiko knows that at Prism she’ll finally be understood the way she always used to be by her childhood best friend, Jamie.

After Prism rejects her, Kiko is forced to consider other options–especially when her abusive uncle moves into the house and makes life even more unbearable. When Kiko and Jamie meet up at a party, Kiko jumps at the improbable chance to tour art schools with him on the west coast. Along the way Kiko will learn how to be brave and and let herself be heard while understand that sometimes second choices can lead to second chances in Starfish (2017) by Akemi Dawn Bowman.

Starfish is Bowman’s debut novel and a finalist for YALSA’s 2018 Morris Award.

This is a quiet and deliberate novel. Kiko knows better than most that words have weight thanks to what happened when she spoke out about her uncle’s abuse and also from the methodical way Kiko’s mother uses them to break her down. Kiko’s visions of vivid sketches and lavish paintings are interspersed throughout Starfish helping Kiko give voice to her emotions when she doesn’t feel strong enough to share them herself.

While Kiko’s strained relationship with her mother and her uncle’s abuse are key factors in Starfish, the main story here is Kiko’s growth and resilience as she begins to realize she has more options than she ever imagined.

Starfish is both heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful as Kiko comes into her own and discovers her own strength. Evocative settings and an obvious love for art are imbued in this story along with a subtle romance. Kiko is an empowering heroine readers will immediately want to cheer on. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway, Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, In a Perfect World by Trish Doller, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, When We Collided by Emery Lord, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Break Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Social Media Wellness: A Non-Fiction Review and My Own Social Media Overhaul

Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World (2017) by Ana Homayoun is part textbook and part workbook offering background on the ways social media usage has changed and grown in recent years along with strategies for tweens and teens to manage their social media time along with all of their other school and extracurricular responsibilities.

Although this book (Homayoun’s third on teens and organization) is targeted at parents/educators it also offers useful information and strategies for teens to implement on their own. As a librarian and social media user myself I learned a lot both for working with kids and teens and for my own practices.

The first three chapters of the book introduce social media as an ever-changing phenomenon and some of the bigger players in social media sites for young people. Homayoun also looks at how social media use affects teens and tweens and offers some compelling statistics and facts on how social media is changing sleep patterns, empathy, and other habits for frequent users. Homayoun also offers a quick rundown of how the instant gratification and constant usage of social media can feed into teen development and promote negative traits and offer a warped sense of what is and is not acceptable.

The second half of the book offers organization strategies and successful anecdotes framed within Homayoun’s three-pronged strategy of socialization, self-regulation, and  safety designed to help tweens and teens not just use social media and devices less but also to use both more efficiently.

My main takeaway from this book is that choices matter and when it comes to digital use there is always a choice. It’s also important to remember that friends are not the same as followers/likes even if you might have some great friends that you only know digitally.

In my own life I was inspired after reading Social Media Wellness to take a hard look at what was and wasn’t working for me. I deleted accounts I no longer use, I left sites that brought me no joy (Pinterest), and I made sure I knew all of my accounts and their related information (and if any needed to be made more secure). I also took time to think about privacy settings and what I want to be available to my friends/followers (I will not be keeping an archive of my instagram stories for instance).

Something else that really clicked with me was the idea that social media encourages an “always on” mentality and what that means for anyone using them. It’s exhausting! After reading about this repeatedly in Homayoun’s book and realizing how much I was plugged in I decided it was time to remove my work email/messaging from my phone. I don’t have a job with urgent deadlines and I don’t have to take work home. There’s no reason for me to be plugged in all the time and replying all the time when it will keep until business hours. While I still start my personal and work days checking sites and emails, I try to avoid ending the day in that way and instead try to unplug and either watch TV with my mom or just read before bed instead.

Homayoun also suggests readers try the Pomodoro Technique for monotasking (because multi-tasking never works, especially when it includes checking texts or likes) which has been incredibly helpful for parceling out my own day-to-day tasks and using apps like Moment to monitor phone usage (I tried this right when my compute died which totally skewed the data and I need to try it again now) and also Forest to encourage less phone use. (I’ve also been using Forest as my timer for the Pomodoro modules.)

What I really like about Social Media Wellness is that it offers factual information to back up claims along with a variety of strategies which allow readers to take what works for them and leave the rest. A lot of this is common sense–especially for readers who are already “plugged in” when it comes to social media and digital devices–but the calm and measured approach makes even the simplest changes feel empowering and proves that even small changes can make a huge difference. A must-read in this increasingly digital age.

January 13 Week in Review: Nurse Emma reporting for duty

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

 

My mom had surgery earlier this week and I’m taking off for almost two weeks to be around more while she’s recovering. Although it was outpatient the whole procedure was a lot more invasive than either of us expected. But I’m happy to report that Mom is doing well and feeling a little better every day. Being the nurse during her recovery is a little scary because it’s a lot of responsibility but I think we’re both doing well.

On Friday I got to see my friend Becky during a NYC stopover between Florida and her big international trip. We braved the rain to head uptown to Serendipity which was charming.

It was also really fogggy!

I’m feeling a little weird being off from work for so long (and suddenly because I extended my leave time the day of Mom’s surgery) but I’m reminding myself that being a caregiver is valid and important and requires as much time as work (or being sick myself) would. And it’s as valid a reason to unplug from work stuff as a vacation day would be.

I have officially bought notebooks for my planner and made a couple of monthly spreads. My original plan was to track everything in one book but after I got a reading journal from Shelflove Crate (see below) I decided to use that for reading stuff and I’m tracking habits/tasks/spending in another notebook. I hate the trackers I made and am already realizing they have some limitations. BUT I’m going to keep trying.

Do you use a paper planner? Do you bullet journal? Any tips and tricks for me?

I’m posting every day on Instagram this year. Here’s one of my latest:

When I heard the theme for December’s #shelflovecrate was “Timeless” I was pretty sure I’d love the items (and had a good idea what the book might be) so I decided to go ahead and order the box as an early birthday present to myself. 📚📚📚 I’m happy to say the box didn’t disappoint! I’m very excited to read Everless soon and have already been using the Peter Pan inspired planner/reading journal which is filled with reading challenges, weekly and monthly calendars, and beautiful quote prints I am very likely to cut out and frame when I finish using all of the pages. And who doesn’t want a time turner of their own or a time is money magnet? Swipe over to see a list of all the items included in this fun box. 📚📚📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booknerd #yalit #yabooks #instareads #books #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #book #booklove #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #everless

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If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my January reading tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Here’s what happened when I KonMari-d my life: Part 2

Get the whole story by reading part one first!

If you aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, it boils down to a few basic ideas which I’m sharing again:

  1. Finish discarding everything before you start tidying. Do it all at once, intensely and completely.
  2. Keep only those things which spark joy. Visualize the life you want after you tidy and instead of focusing on what to get rid of, focus on what you want to keep.
  3. Tidy by category, not by location. Go in order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, sentimental.
  4. Treasure who you are now and thank the possessions you are discarding for getting out there. I didin’t thank everything individually but as I let go of certain items I am trying to thank them for the purpose they served before moving on.
  5. Store like with like. This should be obvious but it’s been a game changer as I’ve started moving all of my clothing, shoes, etc. into designated spaces. In this vein I’d also add: put things back where they belong the moment you finish with them.
  6. Vertical storage is key. You can find things at a glance and everything is easier to get to.
  7. Follow your intuition. There’s no right answer for how much to keep or discard, focus on what you love and when you hit that sweet spot that’s “just right” you’ll know you have enough.
  8. Appreciate your possessions. This goes back to thanking that which you discard and also treating items with respect.

Last weekend I tackled part two in my KonMari project. It wasn’t easy . . .


Books:

KonMari has a couple of specific pieces of advice for dealing with books. Like everything else Kondo recommends putting everything on the floor in a pile and working from there so you can touch everything and really make the most of your joy meter.

I hate doing this for books because a couple of my shelves are incredibly precarious and I don’t like going up and down the step stool while watching the shelf wobble around. I was going to still try this method but wound up getting sidetracked when my mom decided to keep my company. (That was partly my own fault because I am still tweaking my jewelry storage and was in the middle of that when she came in.) I think the process still worked even without everything ending up off the shelves all at once.

Obviously the main factor is still finding the books that spark joy. Again, as I was being more attentive to the process it was fascinating to realize that I really could tell when a book did or did not spark joy. It was especially clear while going through my old picture books and classic editions I received from relatives. It turns out I don’t need every book Chris Van Allsburg wrote nor do I need a giant phonebook sized edition of A Little Princess. In talking through some of the books Mom and I both realized we don’t particularly like Andersen’s or Grimm’s fairy tales. Yet I had three copies of them on my shelves.

All told I sorted out about forty books to give away including some picture books, novels, and duplicate copies. I was able to move a lot books so that they authors and genres were grouped together. As with everything except my clothes (speaking of which I still have to tackle my sweaters) I am still tweaking the exact storage method. But I’m feeling a lot better about how many books I’m keeping.

I am also happy to say I didn’t have any issues except for a low moment when I went and rescued five books I had already set aside to give away. It happens.

According to KonMari, “sometime” can mean never when it comes to rereading books. I’m trying to keep this in mind but a lot of my books are from signings and author events so they also have sentimental value attached. I think the solution might be to go back and look at them again when it’s time for my sentimental item sweep.

Another KonMari tenet is that the best time to read a book is when you first encounter it. I didn’t always think this was true but I’m starting to see the light. I’m working on a multi-pronged system to read through the books I have in a timely manner and especially to read advance copies I have before the books come out. I used to be better at that, but I also used to receive fewer ARCs so I’m not going to stress too much.

Regardless of if you are going to read the books again or when you encounter them, you should only keep those which you truly love. I’ve realized part of this ties directly to having easy access to books (to remove them or not) which I don’t have because all of my shelves are in ridiculous spots. I don’t want to dedicate another weekend to the process (I have to start taking down Christmas decorations) but with a day’s distance I’m realizing there are still some books on my read shelves that I don’t truly love and can definitely part with. As for the books to read–I’m trying to search my heart and only keep those which I truly want to read for myself and not for the hype.

I will be blogging about the rest of my KonMari process as I get to it, so stay tuned!

The Disappearances: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“I realize with horror how much I want this part out of myself now–the part that chooses bitterness.”

With no other family, Aila and Miles are taken in by their dead mother’s best friend when their father is drafted. They’ve never met her and they don’t know much about Sterling, the small town where they will be residing. But Aila is sure it will be fine if not ideal for both of them until World War II ends and their father can return home.

Sterling is hiding more than her mother’s past–it’s hiding a terrible secret too. Every seven years something vanishes. It started with scent as everyone in Sterling lost their sense of smell. Then it was reflections. Dreams. And color. No one knows what will disappear next but it’s almost time for the next Disappearance.

Aila’s mother, Juliet, managed to break away from the curse when no one else could. A feat that always made Sterling suspicious. Now Aila is left to follow Juliet’s trail of literary clues as she works to save her new home before they lose everything in The Disappearances (2017) by Emily Bain Murphy.

The Disappearances is Murphy’s debut novel. Aila’s first person narration is interspersed with flashbacks moving toward 1942 (when Aila’s story starts) as they shed light on the origins of Sterling’s strange curse. This story is part historical fiction, part fantasy, and all tense mystery as Aila, with help from some new friends, tries to unearth Sterling’s secrets and bring the town back to normal.

This novel is atmospheric and eerie as Aila and readers realize that Sterling is hiding some dark secrets. While the characters fall short of calling it magic some of the workarounds Sterling has found for the Disappearances (so called remedies) are downright magical and very improbable. These fixes also come dangerously close to providing magical cures for what would otherwise be real-world matters which can often be problematic.

On the other hand my mother lost her sense of smell in 2013 because of a brain tumor that was removed from her olfactory nerves. It’s been one of the biggest adjustments for her and one of my biggest concerns when she’s home alone. The Disappearnces is the first book I’ve read where something similar was not only handled but handled well (even if it was ultimately the product of a curse and not surgical complications).

While The Disappearances starts strong with a sweeping mystery and fantastic cast of characters, the ultimate resolution of Sterling’s curse–though fitting with the literary motif throughout–takes the story in a bizarre direction that is jarring in the context of the story.

The Disappearances is a thoughtful and clever mystery. While aspects of the curse and its resolution felt underdeveloped or rushed, Aila’s contemplative narration and the novelty of Sterling more than make up for it. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and mysteries especially.

Possible Pairings: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti