What I’m Reading: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Young Adult Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

When I first heard about this book, I was tempted to pick it up straight away, but it’s a good thing I didn’t since I received it in the OwlCrate box that month. Melissa Albert’s writing style was a bit different than I’m used too, with some sentences that took a couple reads to understand, but once I adjusted, I quickly fell into the pages of the story.

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Now, I enjoyed The Hazel Wood, but something about the ending didn’t quite jive with my expectations at the beginning of the book. I loved the beginning. I loved the promise of the mystery and the shadowed back story, but I felt the end took this twist that was unexpected but also not quite as full as I was expecting. It was fast and happened really quickly, when it probably could have had much more time devoted to it.

The main character Alice as fun and loveable, as were Finch and Audrey and most of the other characters. This book is very fairy tale, but modern, which I really like. Now, apparently, this is the first book in of two, or possibly a trilogy, I’m not sure. But according to GoodReads a second book is expected next year. However, The Hazel Wood ends well as a standalone, so I don’t really feel like I’d have to pick up the second book. I’m thinking that maybe the second book is about different characters in the Hazel Wood world, so it will be interesting to see how that ends up.

Here’s a quote I that I loved, from page 128 of The Hazel Wood:

“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”

Overall, I’d give this book 4/5 Stars, but if there were room for decimals, it would probably be just a bit below a four. Have you read The Hazel Wood yet?

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Young Adult Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I love Holly Black. Is that enough of a book review? Lol. Since reading What I’m Reading: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black last year, I’ve wanted more Holly Black. It took me a bit to get into The Cruel Prince, but by the end I was madly in love. For an adult reader of Young Adult books, this is perfect. It’s dark, and dangerous, and rather violent (which maybe isn’t the best for young readers), and it drew me in like a piece of fairie fruit.

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Main character Jude is typical Holly Black, she’s tough and cocky and she’s going to succeed in life or die trying. One thing I wanted more of was Vivi, Jude’s older, half fairie sister who was mysterious and aloof. One thing I loved to hate was Taryn, Jude’s twin sister. This book is richly detailed, full of fairie magic, and takes place almost entirely in The Shifting Isles of Elfhame, for which there is this gorgeous map at the front of the book. I love books that come with maps.

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I loved the tiny tie-in’s with The Darkest Part of the Forest. The Cruel Prince, however, is the first book in a new series, The Folk of the Air, the second book of which, The Wicked King, is expected in 2019 according to GoodReads. I can’t wait. Have you read The Cruel Prince yet?

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book sat on my shelf for a while before I finally picked it up. When I started reading Caraval, I wasn’t so sure about a book that takes place at a circus type thing in a fantasy world, but you know what, it works.

Sister’s Scarlett and Tella are whisked away to Caraval, a mysterious magical show run by the mysterious Legend. The story is told in from Scarlett’s point of view, following her through Caraval. The world is painted in gorgeous colours, and the book left me longing to go to Caraval myself (somewhat like The Night Circus). But as far as I know, the only place Caraval exists in this world is in the book.

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There was one thing I did find a bit confusing in Caravel and that was the passage of time. It seemed like days went really quickly, like Scarlett just started the day and then the day was over, which threw me off a bit. I assumed she was just losing a bit of time due to magic or something, but I’m not sure that was the intent. It was almost enough to pull me out of the book but I did really want to know who was lying and what was the truth and that mystery was enough to keep me going. Even if everything doesn’t flesh out in a book, if it keeps me reading and able to suspend my belief, I’ll end up liking it. That’s just the kind of reader I am.

Caraval is the first book of a two book set, with the second book, Legendary being released at the end of May, so not much more than a month to go if you’re waiting for it. I’ll probably be picking it up. Have you read Caraval yet?

A solid 4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Young Adult Book Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

I picked up Anna and the Swallow Man from my local library on audiobook when I was browsing for a new listen. The story is about Anna, a young girl orphaned during the second World War, and her subsequent journey through Poland. I loved this book. The audiobook was only five hours long, but excellently narrated. The touch of fantasy in the novel was just right, and all of the characters were well developed.

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Books about the great wars can be depressing, this is heavy stuff, but it’s something I think is important to know about so that it never happens again. My heart ached for Anna through most of this book, but the narrative gave me cause to hope. The prose was lyrical, and the language delightful, I found it very easy to fall into this book and to keep listening.

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Young Adult Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The Darkest Part of the Forest is a beautifully written (and I mean pink-sunset beautiful) novel about a young girl, her brother, a sword, and a forest full of dark faerie folk.

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Probably my favourite part of this book was that it is a standalone novel. After reading a bunch of trilogies or series, sometimes it is so nice to read a book that is just that, a book. Nothing more expected, no more cliff hangers. Hazel, the main character, is strong and headstrong, and contrast nicely to her gifted brother Ben, who is gay. It was really great to see the loves and lives of Hazel and Ben intertwine. The relationship between the two characters is fully explored and deep with complication, just like sibling relationships often are.

The only thing that sometimes wore on me with this book, was the slow, backstory which cropped up here and there. Sometimes it felt like a bit too much of the story took place in the past, but mostly I did see a place for it. And the writing was so good that it made all of the reading worthwhile.

A solid 4.5/5 Stars.

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Death Cure by James Dashner

Young Adult Book Review: The Death Cure by James Dashner

It has taken me a long while to get around to reading the last book of The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner. This last book in the series definitely kept me on the edge of my seat as I wondered just how Dashner was going to wrap everything up.

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Earlier this week, I posted a review for The Savage Dawn, which is also a last book in a trilogy. I wrote about how that book had an ending that fit, and that I liked. Now, I liked how The Death Cure ended the Maze Runner Trilogy, but I’m not sure I got enough information. At the end of a series, I like to have a good feeling that I know how the main character’s life is going to be, and with The Death Cure, I feel that I don’t really know what Thomas’ life will be. I feel like there could be a whole new series of books.

Now, I know that there is a novella that might fill in some gaps, and I haven’t picked it up. I’ve also read some reviews that say it doesn’t really answer the lingering questions. Overall though, the ending was solid, and hey, some people really like the unknown.

4/5 Stars

JEH