Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Book One of the Folk of the Air series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from 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 years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.

What I Liked:

I'm going to be 100% honest: I have never cared for books dealing with the fae. Faeries are tricksy, deceitful, manipulative fictional creatures, and I've never really liked stories that involved them because of their nature. The stories never really go well, because the fae are cruel, and I really hate seeing humans be humiliated and hurt by the fae. I've read a few books with fae and didn't love them, there were are two in particular that come to mind, that I DID enjoy. One: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. The primary faerie in that book was not nearly as cruel and deceitful as the fae can be, and I adored him for that. The other book? The Darkest Part of the Forest by none other than Holly Black. I LOVED that book. And it is because I loved that book that I figured I would give this new book a chance. I am so glad that I did, because The Cruel Prince was as riveting and as entrancing as it has been promised to be. 

Jude, her twin sister Taryn, and her older sister Vivi were taken to the High Court of Faerie when she was seven years old. Her older sister Vivi is half-fae, with a redcap father, Madoc. Madoc stole them away from the human world because Vivi is his daughter, but Jude and Taryn are his responsibility, even though they are not his relation (and not even fae). Ten years later, Jude wants to earn her place on the fae court. She wants to be knighted, but there are fae that do not want her in court. There are fae that do not want her and Taryn to be in the fae's world. Fae like Prince Cardan, the youngest son of the High King. But Jude will stop at nothing to prove him - and the rest of the fae - wrong. She strikes a bargain with a sly and powerful faerie and quickly becomes involved in a political scheme that will shake the fae world - and maybe the human world too.

I had seen a few reviews of this book and some of them mentioned that the first half or three-quarters of the book were somewhat slow. I can definitely see what these people are saying, though I didn't have the same experience. The first half/three-quarters of the book have that slow-burn quality that sets the scene, lulls you into the fae world, and lets the anger and rage simmer under the surface. Everything comes to a halt for one second around the three-quarters mark, and then things explode. Like that scene in the new Star Wars movie when there is complete silence but also things are being destroyed. I liked the first three-quarters of the book, in terms of pacing. I was never bored or wondering what was taking so long for things to happen - instead, I was intrigued, and curious, and slowly getting more and more mad for Jude.

From the start, I liked Jude. She fights for her family from the very first chapter (the prologue, really), and she never stops doing so. She is always trying to protect her sisters, and she even protects those that torment her (like Prince Cardan, a fae queen's daughter named Nicosia, a cruel fae boy named Valerian, etc.). She wants to be stronger, tougher, smarter than the fae, because she doesn't like being vulnerable, and she wants to protect herself and Taryn. Growing up human in a fae world has never been easy for the twins, but especially for Jude, who doesn't simper and try to please, like Taryn does. Taryn has her strengths, but Jude is the one that shines. She is clever and strong and becomes more so as the story goes on. She makes impulsive decisions and creates messes for herself, but she learns, and she bides her time after every mistake.

This book is told in Jude's first-person narrative, and so the focus is entirely on her and her decisions. However, there are a number of secondary characters worth mentioning. I had a love-hate relationship with Jude's twin Taryn, who seemed like the sweet older twin but really I didn't have the best feeling about her. Vivienne is hilarious - she is Madoc's true daughter (Jude and Taryn aren't) and she defies his will at every turn. She hates him and hates living in the fae world, and would rather be living in the human world. Vivi is a great older sister, and Jude can always count on her.

I liked and disliked Madoc. It's clear that he loves all three girls, but he is a redcap and a war-driven one, at that. He is the General of the High King's army, so he lives for war and chaos. I guess he's a good dad though? I didn't care for Oriana, Madoc's second wife. She's kind of just there, though I start to like her when she becomes more involved in the story around that 75% mark. 

Prince Cardan seems like the biggest villain, when the story begins. He seems cruel and despicable, always condoning the cruelty of his friends towards Jude. He never misses a chance to humiliate her. But why? Besides she is human? Cardan is such a complex faerie. There are more layers to him than one would think, and it becomes clear that his cruelty is on the surface. Few authors can make me like an antihero who is cruel to the protagonist. However, Holly Black turns Cardan's character around somehow. I don't know how she did it. But somehow, I started liking this antihero.

The first three-quarters of the story deal with Jude's struggle to fit into the fae world and avoid the cruelty of Cardan's posse - Nicosia, Valerian, and one named Locke, who isn't as bad as he seems. There is rage and unbalance bubbling up in Jude, and she eventually she decides she has had enough. This is when she strikes a deal with a dangerous faerie, and she begins to spy on the royal family for him. It is then that she realizes that there is quite a coup in the works. But who is behind this power struggle, and who will come out with the crown?

The last quarter of the book is bloodshed upon bloodshed. That's all you need to know. Also, a lot of deception. It really gets good (and bad) in the last quarter of the book, right down to the last page. Ah! I don't know what I'm supposed to think, after the last few chapters! I thought I had it all figured out!

I won't say much about the romance because it's... kind of there? Not really? The ending gives me pause. I didn't care for any aspect of the romance but there was a certain part that I was definitely like nope, that shouldn't be happening. But there was another aspect that had me wanting to start shipping, up until the last few pages? Now I'm confused? I'm curious to see how Black will work this angle, in the next book.

I need the next book now! Here's hoping it'll be a January 2019 publication, or sooner, because I have a serious need.

What I Did Not Like:

I don't really know if I have anything to complain about. Maybe more swoon? I feel like I wanted to see more from the hate-to-love chemistry -- that could have made for some seriously passionate swoonage. I'll stay quiet though. Here's hoping book two will have more!

Would I Recommend It:

I do not usually like fae books, but this book was great. Very tricksy and full of deception, but in a bizarre and interesting way. Our heroine does not get fooled easily, which was refreshing to see. And the fae keep their hands to themselves, for the most part (again, she isn't easily fooled). If you're interested, I'd say go for it. I am not a fan of the fae but I liked the book.


4 stars. I am 100% hooked and in desperate need of more! I kind of want to reread The Darkest Part of the Forest now. Did I mention that there is a Severin/Ben cameo in this book? I love it when books have cameos and crossovers. Anyway, join me in the long wait for book two!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#262)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, December 24th to Saturday, December 30th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

THANK YOU, KAITLYN! Coincidentally this is the second year in a row that she was my Santa! I don't know how that happened but I am not complaining. She really spoiled me and everything is so perfect. Such a wonderful and thoughtful set of gifts! 😍😍

Reviews from this week:

Click on the cover to go to my review!)

Other blog posts:

Check out my five posts for the Top Ten of 2017 event! Plus, there is a big giveaway!

Favorite Instagram post from this week:

A post shared by Alyssa (@theeaterofbooks) on

I had a great Christmas! And then went back to work on Tuesday, which was rough mostly because I wished I had the entire week off. I'm excited for another long weekend though. My 5th blogoversary was yesterday (the 29th)! I'll do something in the new year - unfortunately I've been swamped in the last few weeks and nearly forgot about the milestone. Thank you all so much for sticking with me over the last five years! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Review: Hidden Truths by Megan Erickson

Hidden Truths by Megan Erickson
Book One of the Boots series
Publication Date: December 3, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Newsletter serial

Summary (from Goodreads):

I meet him in the bar of a town where people run to get away from their past. That's why I'm here. His dark eyes promise a good time, and I take him up on it. Maybe I'm weak, or maybe I'm just lonely. Except it isn't only one night, because with one touch, we're addicted.

We're both in town for a different purpose. I want to save a life, and he wants to end one. The truth won't set us free--it will destroy us. Unless he keeps his promise, and I give up mine.

HIDDEN TRUTHS is a standalone romance that was originally published as a newsletter serial. It has since been revised and expanded. Enjoy the ride!

What I Liked:

Hidden Truths was originally a standalone newsletter serial, in which the author released one chapter every Friday, via her newsletter. I was hooked from the start and dying for more every Friday! In all honesty, this might sound dramatic but anticipating each chapter got me through some tough work weeks, believe it or not. I kept up with chapters 1-12, but then got crazy busy with work and missed chapters 13-15 and the epilogue. But as of last night, I am all caught up, so here is my review!

This is a story about a woman named Tara and a man named Lance, who meet under coincidental circumstances but are more connected than they think. How? You'll have to read the book to find out. (No, they aren't blood-related or anything creepy like that.) Lance and Tara can't stay away from each other, but their budding relationship might not be up to them. With Tara's past and Lance's thirst for revenge, they may not have had a chance from the start.

There is something simply addicting about Erickson's stories, but especially this one! It's suspense/thriller and every chapter had me captivated and ready for more. Releasing a chapter at a time was clever because the author always ended each chapter on a bit of a cliffhanger... basically ensuring that I (and many other eager readers) would be back for more. I'm not mad about it! Now that the book is available in a singular form, it would be a different reading experience, but I liked the newsletter serial (even if I did want to scream after some chapters' endings).

I adore Tara! She is a tough lady who does what she wants, says what she wants, and doesn't play games. I love her directness and lack of shyness - she went after what she wanted with no shame. I am this type of person so it was fun to see this type of woman in the story.

Lance is so complex and deep, and I loved the guy. He is complicated, with a complicated past and a complicated future (what he wants for his future, anyway). He is a good person despite his past, and he has a strong set of morals (despite his past). I liked his quiet brooding nature, and how straightforward he was. He and Tara got along well, with both of them being so direct and open.

The pair has some serious chemistry! There was sexual tension from the moment they saw each other, and that tension did not go away even long after the first sexy times. Erickson is really good at cooking up chemistry and keeping the tension going, and she always writes some good sexy times. 

She also writes really good romance in general - meaning the emotional side of things. Lance and Tara have great chemistry but they also click and begin to like each other more than physically. They start to trust each other and that trust becomes unbreakable as the story goes on. Both of them had reason to stop trusting and liking the other, but they both kept level heads and didn't jump 90 miles to some ridiculous conclusions. I loved how well they communicated with each other, even when they were so angry at and/or upset with the other.

Minimal romance drama (yay!), no love triangle (yay!), and a HEA. Also, super steamy sexy times. What more could you want? 

I don't want to give away the twists and turns so I won't say much about the story outside of the romance. It has to do with Tara's past including her brother and his shady dealings, and Lance's past as well as his own brother. The thriller/suspense part of the story gets super intense and you'll be wanting to scream at the author as that part of the story unfolds. But hang in there!

The climax of the story is intense but the ending is very satisfying! It's not a perfect rainbows-and-sunshine ending but it is a HEA and I loved it. Erickson always leaves readers happy no matter how intense the story gets, which is great. I loved the ending, and I'm glad this book is a standalone. But I'm excited for the next book (which features Tara's brother!). 

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific! 

Would I Recommend It:

If you like romantic suspense/thrillers, this is one for you! It's longer than a novella but shorter than a full-length novel, but the story is very complete and well-written. It's a standalone but there will be a companion sequel that will follow Tara's brother Bryan. I find Erickson's romance novels very addicting, so prepare to be sucked into the story if you give it a chance!


4 stars. This book was sexy, romantic, intense, nail-biting, and in the end, very satisfying. I was hooked and I never wanted to stop reading. This is a story worthy of rereading many times over, because it's that addicting. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2018

The Top Ten of 2017 event is hosted by Jaime from Two Chicks on Books, Rachel from Fiktshun, Bridget from Dark Faerie Tales,  Fallon from Seeing Double in Neverland, and the ladies from Take Me Away To A Great Read!

Today, I'm sharing my top ten books I'm looking forward to in 2018!

(Note: I only picked books with covers. There are a number of 2018 novels that I'm looking forward to reading that do not yet have covers. I also did not feature any 2018 books that I already own or already read.)

  Sea Witch
(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!)

The Giveaway:

Win one of THREE prizes! The first is one I've posted on Twitter -- win 12 YA books published during each month of 2017.

The second prize is a holiday-themed adult romance prize pack!

The third prize is a mystery box of books! This box could contain a mix of YA and adult books, ARCs and finished copies, paperbacks and hardcovers... basically I'm going to fill a box with books. All will be recently published or possibly to be published.

Open internationally. Ends January 6th. Good luck!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review: Bound to You by Alyssa Brandon

Bound to You by Alyssa Brandon
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

A teen werewolf finally meets her destined soulmate only to discover that he's not quite what she expected in this steamy debut romance.

She's met her mate . . . and he's met his match.

Megan Ross has been waiting her whole life for her mate to come and sweep her off her feet. But the wolf she meets on the beach is NOT the sweet gentle boy she's been dreaming of. Instead, he's a warrior, one whose suffering has led him to lock his heart away in a prison as cold and hard as a diamond, who fights to resist the bond and their deep sexual attraction.

Far from home, with a soulmate who is still a stranger, Megan learns that the path to true love isn't quite as straight and easy as she thought . . .

What I Liked:

Typically I don't read review books four months in advance, because I always want to put out a review within one or two days - and typically publishers want to see reviews a month before publication. But I couldn't wait, with this book. I received it unsolicited from the publisher and I hadn't known much about it before picking it up. For some reason, I wanted to read a paranormal romance novel, and I dug this one out on a whim. It was a great decision because I ended up loving this book!

This novel is set in modern times but with a twist - werewolves exist! Megan is an alpha werewolf who is trying to find her alpha mate. She has been looking for two years but to no avail. On her eighteenth birthday, at her party where all of the eligible werewolves in the area were invited, she meets her mate - James. But James is none too thrilled to finally have a wait. He is a warrior wolf, different from Megan and her father/her father's clan, and he lives far away near Quebec. Megan has always wanted a mate, and she has always wanted someone to love her like no one else exists. But James isn't the Prince Charming she was expecting. She is far from home and living with a stranger - can she find love? Or is she destined to be mated but never loved?

I never used to be a fan of werewolf paranormal fiction but maybe it has been so long since I read one. I found this one to be wonderful! There are werewolf customs and traditions and rules that are included in the story, and the werewolf world and setup made sense to me. I had no problems with this werewolf story (in terms of the werewolf aspect)!

A disclaimer of a sort: this book is 100% paranormal romance, emphasis on the romance bit. If you don't want to read a story heavily focused on romance, pass on this one! I love PNR and I was in love with how much romance there was in this book (i.e. how much of the story was focused primarily on the romance). One of the complaints I always have with Swoon Reads books is that they are never actually swoony - but this book certainly is!

I get ahead of myself though; I'll talk about the romance in a few paragraphs. I always start with the characters. I adored Megan; she is sweet and kind, and a little naive, but she grows into her strength and stubbornness. She is an alpha but not an aggressive or violent one, though she forges her own path and sticks to her ground. I personally loved that she knew exactly what she wanted (a mate - someone to love her). Some might say that this is backwards and/or old-fashioned, but I thought this was lovely. She clearly knew what was best for her and had good reason to make the decisions that she did, regarding leaving home and going with James. It wasn't just tradition for her.

I also really liked James. He came across as a rude, cold jerk, but it was obvious from the start that he had baggage and was putting on a front. I'm not excusing his cold behavior but it was something that, for me, intrigued me and made me want to puzzle him out. He is a good guy, with a selfless and noble streak, and he was always a gentleman with Megan. He just wasn't always the nicest guy. But I loved his dominant, protective personality against her sweet and stubborn personality.

There were a number of secondary characters that I really liked! My favorite is probably Lucy, an elusive young girl living in James's castle. She becomes a friend to Megan, and Megan really needed that. I also liked James's pack, especially Tommy (who also becomes a friend to Megan). And James's father was a fun one.

The romance! I loved the romance. It's a hate-to-love, enemies-to-lovers, "arranged marriage" type of romance. Personally? I love these two tropes. It's not technically an arranged marriage since they didn't get married, but they are fated mates and they secured the bond in several different ways as the story went on, so you know what I mean. I loved the tropes of the romance. I also loved the slow-burn, sexy chemistry of the romance. James and Megan were throwing off some serious heat! They both really wanted each other, but were holding back for personal reasons. But that led to a lot of push and pull, and a lot of "almost" scenes. The chemistry was super hot!

And when there were finally some physical chemistry manifesting on the page... let me just say that this has to be the swooniest and steamiest Swoon Reads book I've read yet. I'm NOT saying this is an R rated book! The author has written everything in such a way that things are vague! But everything that can be inferred by what isn't written is some steamy stuff. Take my word for it!

No love triangle! I promise there is no love triangle or square or harboring feelings or weirdness with the best friends or anything of the sort. No external drama of any sort. As soon as James and Megan meet (which is within the first few pages), it's over for them - meaning, there is no chance of anyone else walking into the picture. They have a lot of chemistry, and a lot of curiosity for each other. And their bond is strong from the start, even with their hate-to-love relationship happening.

The story isn't just a romance, though the romance is huge. There are other conflicts, like Megan adjusting to life far away from home, and conflicts with wraiths attacking werewolves. I won't give too much away but I will say that I liked the other subplots that weren't primarily about the romance. I was never bored while reading this book - in fact, I practically flew through this book!

The ending is very satisfying! I wouldn't mind an epilogue or a check-in of some sort in the future, but I was really happy with the ending. It seems like this is a standalone novel which works for me!

What I Did Not Like:

I don't have anything specific that comes to mind! Maybe a little bit more with Lucy and her future, and a broader resolution to the wraith conflict, but honestly I wasn't too bothered by these things!

Would I Recommend It:

If you like YA paranormal romance, definitely give this book a chance. You might be like me and not really into werewolf books; but trust me, this book was fantastic. The romance is so steamy and swoony and you will fall in love with James and Megan falling in love! This book is steamy but definitely still teen-appropriate.


5 stars. I rarely give out this rating but this book made me so happy and I had so few complaints. Everything about this book worked for me - characters/character development, romance, chemistry, story, secondary characters, writing. I wouldn't mind seeing a companion novel in the horizon! Even a direct sequel wouldn't be bad, but I kind of like this book as a standalone, as it is. In any case, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be rereading it!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Swoon Thursday (#257): Bound to You by Alyssa Brandon

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Bound to You by Alyssa Brandon!

I wanted to yell at him to kiss me already, wanted so badly to just lay one on him. Instead I moved just half an inch closer to him, wishing he would come to me, longing for him to kiss me.

And then he did.

James's mouth was on mine, soft and careful. I froze. I had wanted him to kiss me for so long, and now that it was happening I was sure what to do. Then I felt James begin to pull away - probably because I wasn't kissing him back. I quickly grabbed his arm and began returning the kiss. 

I felt dizzy as I kissed him; my wolf was ecstatic. was ecstatic. My senses were alive, his hand on my neck tingling almost as much as my lips. 

- ARC, page 222

My review is also posted today! I really enjoyed this book. I know it's a little early to be reviewing it but I had a PNR craving and this book definitely satisfied! 😍😍

Best Book Boyfriends of 2017

The Top Ten of 2017 event is hosted by Jaime from Two Chicks on Books, Rachel from Fiktshun, Bridget from Dark Faerie Tales,  Fallon from Seeing Double in Neverland, and the ladies from Take Me Away To A Great Read!

Today, I'm sharing my top ten favorite (YA) book boyfriends of 2017!

Crowe from Devils & Thieves

Kiaran from The Fallen Kingdom

Lord Carlston from The Dark Days Pact 

Locke from Roar

Reece from Black Bird of the Gallows

Beckett from The Knowing

Okami from Flame in the Mist

Cas from Avenged 

Raif from Freedom's Slave

Jin from Traitor to the Throne

Check out all of my Swoon Thursday posts:

The Giveaway:

Win one of THREE prizes! The first is one I've posted on Twitter -- win 12 YA books published during each month of 2017.

The second prize is a holiday-themed adult romance prize pack!

The third prize is a mystery box of books! This box could contain a mix of YA and adult books, ARCs and finished copies, paperbacks and hardcovers... basically I'm going to fill a box with books. All will be recently published or possibly to be published.

Open internationally. Ends January 6th. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Best YA Standalone Novels of 2017

The Top Ten of 2017 event is hosted by Jaime from Two Chicks on Books, Rachel from Fiktshun, Bridget from Dark Faerie Tales,  Fallon from Seeing Double in Neverland, and the ladies from Take Me Away To A Great Read!

Today, I'm sharing my top ten favorite YA standalone novels of 2017!

(Note: I classify "standalone" as novels that have no sequels - whether direct, or companion.)

(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)

The Giveaway:

Win one of THREE prizes! The first is one I've posted on Twitter -- win 12 YA books published during each month of 2017.

The second prize is a holiday-themed adult romance prize pack!

The third prize is a mystery box of books! This box could contain a mix of YA and adult books, ARCs and finished copies, paperbacks and hardcovers... basically I'm going to fill a box with books. All will be recently published or possibly to be published.

Open internationally. Ends January 6th. Good luck!