The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


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Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Folk of the Air, book 1
Rating: DNF
Recommend to Others?: No

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
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 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.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.

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My Review:
DNF at Chapter 15, Page 142. No Rating.

My thoughts from a previous post: I’m no stranger to Holly Black’s books and writing. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this book – I didn’t think it was the right story for me at the time or at all. But Black does all things fae well so maybe it could turn out to be a good read. I’d like to give it a try.

I couldn’t find it in me to keep reading. I didn’t want to keep reading.

The title is an understatement. I couldn’t take the extreme bullying Jude was receiving from Cardan and his friends. It was all too much.

Jude was an okay character. Willful but reckless. I wouldn’t completely agree that she’s a glutton for punishment by provoking Cardan so much but I’m also glad she refuses to lower herself to being a doormat. Because she’s human, the only logical way for her to succeed in her desires would be to outsmart her adversaries and be mindful of words and favors. But it’s a mystery how she’ll overcome overcome; right now she’s angry and desperate to not feel powerless anymore. She also seems to be heading towards a dark path, one that might cause her to stoop to the same cruel level as Cardan. And I don’t think, and it seems she’s starting to see a bit, that she’s really thought through all her choices and decisions.

There were very few bright moments up to where I stopped. Vivi (Jude’s older sister) was the only character I actually liked. Taryn (Jude’s twin sister) I did not care for. Madoc (Jude’s “father”) was more terrifying than unlikable (based on his thoughts about the state of affairs in Elfhame). And Cardan is cruel to a T. Locke (who’s in Cardan’s circle) I don’t trust at all and suspect he’s up to something of his own.

There wasn’t enough to keep me interested, not enough good to cling to in the dark, wicked, beautiful world of this book. And with the impending change of rulers it seems the tone will be gloomy for quite a while. Objectively, I’m indifferent about this book. I can’t say if it’s actually a good or bad book unless I read the whole thing. But I don’t see myself finishing it in the future.


If you’ve read this book already, I’d love to know your thoughts about it. Let me know what you thought in the comment section below.

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Summer Reading 2018 List!

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A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers

Black Butler (Volumes 23-25)

Fruits Basket (Volume 17 to end)

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, book 2)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, book 1)

Star In The Morning by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 1) (2nd Read)

With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland (MacLeod, book 7) (2nd Read)

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (The Books of Bayern, book 1) (2nd Read)


These are all the books I would like to get through this summer. However, I’m not gonna push myself to finish this entire list because I know I most likely won’t have the time. I’ve changed this list so many times but this final version seems right for the summer. I’m excited and curious about the possibilities of the stories here. Whatever happens I’ll get through them all eventually.

What books are on your summer reading list this year?


As Always, Happy Reading!


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Mid-Year Look-Back: Top 5 Favorite Books of 2018 (so far)

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2018 has been an exciting year for books for me. There have been surprisingly fantastic reads, reads that made me feel the feels and swoon, and some I didn’t expect to be disappointments. But it’s still been a good reading year.

I’ve managed to read 64 books so far and surpass my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal earlier than last year.

I recently posted my 100th book review to this blog, which was amazing.

I read books by 19 new authors that I haven’t read from before.

Obsessively read 39 volumes of manga (and probably consumed equally as much anime).

But the best thing has been being able to share this crazy passion for books with all of you and in turn discovering new books/authors from you. So thank you thank you to you lovely people. May your book hunting and reading be ever more fortuitous. 🙂

Here are my favorite books of 2018 so far (titles lead to my reviews):

Black Butler by Yana Toboso, Translated by Tomo Kimura (Volumes 1-22)

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (2nd Read)

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen (ARC review)

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven


How are you all doing on your TBR lists? What are your favorite books that you’ve read so far this year?

As Always, Happy Reading!!!



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Happy Book Release Day! to How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Thank you again to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.

*title/author link leads to my review of How We Roll*


Image via NetGalley

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating:  4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but because of a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.


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Book Review: From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe
Favorite Quotes: “I wanted people to see me, to like me for who I was and what I had to offer. I wanted to use my talent to transform people’s lives and how they saw the world.”

“It’s never happened. But there are people out there, people like me, who need someone to come along and tell their stories. To explore all those different universes for them. So why can’t I be the one to do it?”

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

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My Review:
This book was a lot to take in and has left me feeling torn about what to make of it.

I picked up this book because it sounded interesting (first book I’ve read of Sandhya Menon’s) and I’d never read a book where the MC was aspiring to become a filmmaker as a young Indian-American woman. I thought that sounded awesome.

In terms of the obstacles Twinkle faces, this is one of those stories where, as the saying goes, things get worse before they get better. And they do get worse and worse. So much that it made me an anxious reader while openly yelling things like “NO!” and “That’s not a good idea!” and “Think. Think. Think!” and “I can’t watch.”

There’s a lot of teenage drama, clicks, unrequited love, and social angst. Twinkle’s dwindling friendship with (formerly sister BFF) Maddie is also a major source of contention. Everything was too much sometimes. Perhaps there were too many issues going on that pulled the reader’s attention every which way despite it all being connected.

I liked how flawed Twinkle (and pretty much everyone else, except Dadi, Twinkle’s grandmother, really) and how strong and direct her voice is. For the teen characters, the biggest flaw is their insecurities: Twinkle feeling invisible and not good enough to be noticed at school and home; Sahil always being compared to his star-athlete star-academic twin brother. I think this heightens what Twinkle seeks to accomplish with her film (and future films) as well as the overall theme of the book about finding one’s voice and being able to share that voice with others (as well as the importance of telling underrepresented voices/stories).

There are times while reading when I was like, “Twinkle seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders and is a really passionate person.” Then other times I was like, “Why, Twinkle, why would you do that?”, whenever her rational fled when deeper emotions took over. Also, I thought it ill-advised that she blindly believed that “N” had to be Neil – her crush who she’s had (so it appears) very little interaction/conversation with and knows nothing about. That would have been (reluctantly) fine if she also, logically, thought the email could well be a dangerous stranger on the internet or a troll cat-fishing her. “N” got her email from the school’s directory, so “N” being a student is more likely but still! Not once does she think “stranger danger,” even a little. I find that incredibly impossible. Also, it wasn’t hard to figure out the true identity of “N” but I was somewhat surprised by the why of it.

I like that Twinkle tells the story through letters to her favorite female filmmarkers in diary format. When she’s directly talking to them her passion comes through. I also like that her choice of the film she adapts for the festival, even if I haven’t ever seen it. I’d watch her version of it though.

I loved Sahil. Perhaps too perfect of a character? Maybe – he certainly wouldn’t think so. But he’s just a bright light in this crazy mess of high school drama. And I like that he too takes steps to be seen, to be heard in a way that is unique to him. He does it better than Twinkle by fa,r but everyone takes a different path to get to such a grounded place.

As dramatic as this book was, I think Sandhya Menon is a fantastic writer. There were lots of phrases whose diction was so amazing and seemingly effortlessly written. I thought it genius for her to have Twinkle describe her social status as “groundlings” versus the “silk feathered hats” (aka the rich and popular crowd) from Shakespearean days at the theater. She took something (super) old and made it feel fresh and new. Loved it.

The ending made me kind of emotional and happy. No storm lasts forever. When the clouds finally cleared things felt changed. Maybe a little to sugary sweet of an ending but good nonetheless.

Based on all that, I’m left conflicted about my overall impression of the book. It was too much drama but not bad. Inspiring in many ways at its core. And a talented writer at the helm.


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ARC Book Review: How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
How We Roll by Natasha Friend is set to be released June 5, 2018.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating:  4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via NetGalley):
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but because of a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.

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My Review:
In eighth grade, all of the hair on Quinn’s head fell off due to an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata totalis. It subsequently tears down her social life and makes her reluctant to fully engage in a new one when she and her family move from Boulder, Colorado to Gulls Head, Massachusettes. This becomes a chance to totally reinvent herself in a place where the cruel nicknames of the past can’t follow her. Quinn’s voice is very clear and intelligent. She’s the kind of friend you want in your life because she’s incredibly kind and supportive. She does her best to take care of her own problems herself. It’s hard because she fear her wig might fall of at the worst moment and having to deal with an itchy scalp.

Jake’s life has been turned upside down with the loss of both his legs. He’s left angry and alone, finding it difficult to me a part of the world again. Quinn’s friendship is just what he needs because in a way she can understand him – even if their situations may be viewed as apples and oranges. Jake’s kind of moody – which is understandable – so the questions becomes how much will he change within the course of the story. I’m happy with how far he comes by the end.

The teen drama is very much alive in this book. And even in a fictional sense it’s heartbreaking that these kids, so young, would treat each other so callously. Perhaps this was to juxtapose it with what principle characters are going through? I too was wary when Quinn found a new group of friends. They talk a lot and share lip gloss (unsanitary but they seem close enough to do that) but they’re good people, which is what Quinn needs in her life

I like that the difficult situations aren’t sugar-coated. It’s a stark but honest reality: Quinn losing her hair. Jake losing his legs. Quinn’s little brother, Julius, having autism that can’t be clearly pinpointed on the spectrum. Raising a child who has autism.

There were enough lighter, sometimes funny, moments to drive away the sad ones. Quinn and Jake have really good back and forth banter in very few words.

The story is told really well and everything came together rather nicely in the end. I enjoyed reading How We Roll (a fitting title) and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, honest read on friendship, fitting in, trust and understanding, along with a great main character.


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Book Review: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: “I can live with my downs and acrosses; I accept the larger truths of my life. But I don’t take the cells so seriously.”

“‘Failure isn’t permanent,’ she said. ‘Grit is the ability to learn and fail and learn some more. That ability is fluid, not fixed. You have the power to change.”

“Sometimes we know where we’re going and sometimes we get lost. But as long as we move, we grow.”

“I’d never been good at finishing things. But adventures like this one stay with you; they’re never really done. It’s like the universe. I can’t guarantee humankind will go on forever, but it’s going somewhere. Baby steps, growth. Because completion isn’t a prerequisite for growth. Momentum is.”

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try–all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

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My Review:
A good book all things considered.

Down and Across is at first underwhelming but embodies a truck-load of chaotic charm and insight. Scott is the struggle of today that’s highly relatable.

It took me a while to really get into the book, hence the underwhelming feeling. I’m still not sure what it was because a lot was happening – maybe the action just wasn’t exciting enough? I could related to Scott (aka Saaket) Ferdowsi, the main character, in some ways, so that kept me curious and going. That and the great quotes you can find throughout (I have six sticky-note tabs marking pages, post-read). Not to mention Scott’s quest to become gritty is as admirable as it is adventurous. There’s a lot to take away from this book.

I’ve been to DC a few times for occasions only but I haven’t fully seen the city as much as Scott did. While I can’t speak to what it’s like in DC it does seem like the perfect place for this book’s cast of characters to roam and for the story to be told in. Every character is a stark contrast to each other – especially in the case of Scott and Fiora who are on two ends of a very long pole. But everyone is also incredibly real and I love that about this book. A few characters I didn’t like, but they’re realness and how they’re shaped make them the right characters for this hectic story as well. No one is a perfect angel and there are moments of shaking-my-head and not-sure-that’s-a-good-idea. Everything is so real – the author did a fantastic job writing this story.

I’ve never been good at crosswords (I’m a word search gal). But the metaphor and how Fiora explained crosswords in relation to one’s life made sense. I thought it a fun idea that a blank crossword was included in the back for the reader to solve. My favorite scene was meeting the Crossword Crusaders – so so funny and you get the best picture of who Fiora is.

From what you get out of it and from the way the story is told, Down and Across is definitely worth the read. I look forward to Arvin Ahmadi’s next book.