The Wicked King by Holly Black | Review

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Rating: ★★★★★

Release Date: January 8th, 2019

Dates Read: December 11th, 2018 – December 12th, 2018

Trigger Warnings: abuse, betrayal, murder, torture, sexual assault

Pages: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Fantasy, young adult

Goodreads blurb:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world


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The Golden Tower by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare | Review

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Star-Divider

Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: September 11th, 2018

Dates Read: September 15th, 2018 to September 16th, 2018

Pages: 256

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Genre: middle-grade, fantasy, urban fantasy, magic

Goodreads blurb:

A generation ago, powerful mage Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt.

Facing up to what he is, Callum has battled chaos and evil across four years of magical training at the Magisterium, eventually defeating the armies of chaos in an epic battle.

It came at a cost.

Now, triumphant and heartbroken, Callum Hunt has just about had enough, and is ready to complete his training. But the evil Callum faced has not given up just yet…

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October Wrap Up | 2018

Wow, can you believe this year is almost done? October wasn’t super busy for me, I worked a lot, I handed in my last university assignments and I went and saw Taryn from @ Taryn Reads Books for a few days. I also started my Christmas shopping because ya girl likes to be prepared. However, I am so stuck on what to ask for my 21st in December. What did y’all get if you’re 21 or what your siblings get?

In terms of reading, I had a pretty good reading month. I read quite a few novellas but I am not mad about that – a lot of them I have been anticipating for a while.

Let’s just jump into my wrap up though. I don’t want to babble too much, mainly because I am typing this up before work because I was not prepared for this month to end. I read 4, 830 pages and 17 books in total! Let’s jump into this.

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September Wrap Up | 2018

September was a wild month for me. It kicked off quickly with my work experience period starting. I was trained up in reception skills to be useful and underwent some work with the marketing girls. I did so well that the workplace offered to hire me. I will now be working in a casual position but I am so ready to get some money in my pocket and learn more!

I didn’t think I would read that much due to working most days of the week for work experience. I managed to shock myself and read 20 books which equalled 6236 pages. I managed to finish a couple audiobooks this month too on the bus to and from work!

As it is with these wrap-ups, most of these reviews will start appearing in the next few weeks so keep an eye out!

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | Review

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Trigger Warnings: abuse (graphic), suicide, bullying, murder, alcoholism. 

Pages: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

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.


R E V I E W

I had some pretty high expectations going into The Cruel Prince. I said I would stop buying into the hype but as if that’s actually true. I am so glad that it fit all the expectations I had for it! I don’t think I’ve seen a single bad review for The Cruel Prince since the ARCs started being distributed. Quite literally every single one of my friends on Goodreads has loved it. I had a few problems throughout the book, which I will get in to later and a problem that comes from the reviews I read.

The Cruel Prince is a dark twisting tale that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I truly wasn’t expecting what happened at all throughout the novel. At some points I thought I was finally getting a grasp on the plot, but nope. I can tell that this is a book I could re-read hundreds of times and pick up new things each time – the sign of a great book in my opinion.

It was strange the start the year off with a book that doesn’t fit into a traditional YA book. It was too dark for me to really class it as that, honestly. With the motives and the violence throughout the book, I’m not sure it would be suited for a younger audience. Though, I did love the fact it was urban fantasy and not high fantasy. I love when there’s a clear line between the fantasy and the mortal world in books, so I was incredibly intrigued to see how it was going to work throughout The Cruel Prince. 

However, I did enjoy watching Jude try and navigate the inner workings of Faerie. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of familial vibe throughout, I feel that could have been better worked into the plot as I would have liked to see Jude interact with her sisters (Taryn and Vivi) more. Jude did seem like a bit of a naive character at first, I wasn’t sure if I was exactly on her side. But, as The Cruel Prince continues we get to see there are further layers underneath the original one. My favourite character to learn more about was Cardan. Who, I’m not even sure how to view. The book ended and I was like ‘wait, that’s it?’ I instantly wanted to see how his character would develop further to tackle the problems that lay ahead in this novel.

The dark undertones throughout the book definitely provide an anti-villain theme for the characters throughout, especially with the events that occur towards the end of the book – without saying too much. The flawed characters who make mistakes definitely enforce this opinion that little bit more.

Actually, Holly Black manages to give every single character a depth. No one is how they once appear and the more you learn about them the more I am so glad that this world does not exist. It was such a complex and dark world filled with such intense politics and familial battles. I’m truly not even sure I got a grasp on all the characters and concepts.

Her writing is almost flawless with the way it captivates you, the descriptions are absolutely enchanting. A big problem I had with the novel was how confusing the beginning was. It took me a bit to fall into the novel, but once I was in I was hooked. But, that first 20% left me debating whether or not I should DNF and cut my losses. I am so glad I didn’t. I also did take away a star because I guessed a couple things and wasn’t impressed by the relationship between sisters Taryn and Jude. 

The other problem I have doesn’t even fall into the text. It does with reviewers. I’ve seen a lot of reviews for The Cruel Prince and not a single one mentioned the abuse that happens. It is incredibly graphic and I was speechless. I do urge everyone who reads this book to include this trigger because I was not prepared at all.

Overall, this was a complex novel. A lot of it did feel like filler and setting us up for the next book but it was incredibly fantastic. Holly Black is a master of words in The Cruel Prince, her adjectives and scenarios create such a vivid picture that I can’t help but recommend this book. Especially if you can push past the confusing beginning!


Happy reading everyone!

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The Silver Mask by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare | Mini Review

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: October 10th, 2017

Pages: 200

Publisher: Scholastic Press.

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on. But Call has no idea. It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power. In this spellbinding fourth book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take us beyond the realm of the living and into the dangers of the dead.


M I N I   R E V I E W

This is simply a mini review for two reasons. One, I got my wisdom teeth out on Thursday and am still getting back on my feet fro it. Two, this is the fourth book in a series and since I enjoy keeping my reviews spoiler free a mini review was the best way to conduct this.

To start off; what a disappointment. I’ve been reading this for five days and it was in no way worth this. It was classic middle book syndrome where basically nothing happens. With the book being as short as it is, it seriously needs something to keep you around. However, The Silver Mask really fails to do that for me. If you’ve seen my other reviews you may know I really enjoyed the first three books of this series. That’s what makes this particular one such a sad tale.

I can’t really tell you what happened throughout this book. The ties of friendship that are so common throughout the others are almost missing. This book is solely about Call and his personal journey through the events that occurred in book three. Unfortunately, I don’t think that was enough to be a full book by itself.

The romance really jumped out of nowhere, too. I was quite shocked by it (though it could have been my wisdom teeth drugs).

All in all, this is still a really good middle-grade series and I will be reading the final book when it releases. Just very disappointed that this book and I didn’t mesh well.

Also, I apologise for how short this review is but I need to do some more packing and nap because these tablets make me drowsy as all hell.


Happy reading everyone!

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The same goes for my Booktopia link, which is a great service for Aus and NZ residents.

The Bronze Key by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black | Review

Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: August 30th 2016

Pages: 256

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.

As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything, good or evil, can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it.


R A M B L E

This review will probably be short because I am screaming still from this book. The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was dark. The previous two books seemed like child play when compared to this book and I am shocked. I am shocked that these two women are geniuses. I haven’t felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest by a book in a long time, but these two authors manage to do it within 200 pages.


 P L O T 

Following the same characters we now know and love, The Bronze Key is a story about friendship, crushes and murder.

Wait, one of those seem out of place. Definitely the crushes.

Definitely the crushes.

Romance hasn’t been a big thing in this series, but it slowly starts to be introduced to the series as the characters are now 14 and undergoing puberty, I presume it’s not in the text. It was a bit disorientating to read about Callum’s feelings and I got confused in some aspects, which was the only thing that brought this book down a star because it was a perfect five.

It seems these kids can’t get a break though because this particular year someone wants to murder Callum. I get he’s annoying, but I’m not sure he exactly screams “murder me”. Apparently, he does though. Along the way the trio makes many discoveries they may wish they didn’t and suffer losses that will break them.


C  H A R A C T E R S 

I haven’t got a lot to say about the characters throughout this book. At least, not enough to make individual parts in this review like I usually do. Callum, Tamara and Aaron go through some series hardships in their Bronze Year at the Magisterium. Hardships no fourteen years should have to face. It is distressing, in a way, at what they do experience and the lack of adults who are willing to help.

The trio takes care of Havoc, while also never letting Callum out of their sight in fear the murderer will strike when they do. The character growth throughout this book was beautiful, but also hilarious in some aspects. Mainly the introduction of romance that I mentioned previously.

I’m beyond excited to see how the trio grows in the future books. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick up this series.


O V E R A L L 

Overall, Cassandra Clare and Holly Black did it again. They managed to have me crying late in the night over their unexpected twists and unflinching way to execute a story. I am beyond excited for the release of the fourth book which comes out later in August.

I still highly recommend this series if you’re looking for a fast paces middle-grade series that is in no way similar to Percy Jackson or Harry Potter. Black and Clare completely make this world their own without cliches or themes from those series and it is amazing. 

The Copper Gauntlet By Cassandra Clare & Holly Black | Review

Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: September 1st 2015

Pages: 264

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to the magical world of the Magisterium in the fall.

It’s not easy for Call . . . and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.

Call escapes to the Magisterium — but things only intensify there. The Alkahest — a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic — has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends Aaron and Tamara awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes — and get closer to an even more dangerous truth.


R A M B L E 

Wow, what a book. I was sucked in almost instantly. The beginning for this was such a bigger bang than the first book (review here). There were flat parts, but since it is only an incredibly short novel I was completely enthralled and involved with the world.

The Copper Gauntlet definitely displays a different kind of story to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson (sorry for the comparison), it definitely strays completely away from the belief that this series is in any way similar to the others in any way. I mean, none of the series have a main character who has a wolf, so I know which one I prefer.

This book had adventure. This book had friendship. This book smashed middle grade and young adult stereotypes. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for a fast paced novel that features no romance and incredible friendships.


C H A R A C T E R S

#C A L L U M

Callum Hunt remains our main character. We see the whole story through his eyes and experience his reactions to what is happening. He is also pretty oblivious, which makes reading his perspective pretty frustrating at some times. Not only that but the fact he was so unwilling to communicate and share information with his friends. I wanted to shake him and scream he could trust them.

There are some incredible changes in his character, in my belief, the way he goes about magic and just how he holds himself is different from the first book. He is no longer scared of judgement from his peers and is truly more open.

#T A M A R A

Tamara is both my least favourite character and a girl I know I would be best friends with. She is comic relief, she is fearless and she is not about to take a single characters shit. Being Muslim of Iranian descent Tamara has a lot of pressures on her. She has to deal with a lot of complications, especially since her family is in the Assembly (kind of like court for Mages).

I just love her. She is not a perfect character. None of the characters in these novels are. She is flawed. She doesn’t always do the right thing and she does screw up. But, man, is she well written and kickass.

#A A R O N

Aaron doesn’t do too much this book. After the events of the last book he kind of becomes closed down and a tad hopeless, in my opinion. He also doesn’t do too much throughout this book. He appears, does some magic to save everyone, say something wise and then disappear into the background. I feel he’s hiding secrets that I am very interested in learning.

#J A S P E R

Jasper is rude and snarky. He hates showing emotions and is basically me in a fourteen-year-old boy. I was astounded by the character development that was shown throughout the book for Jasper. It was pretty surprising considering how terrible he had been in the previous book.

I hope we see more of Jasper in the third book.


P L O T 

The plot of this was intense. With Call’s father on the run from the Mages who want to kill him our main character feels he needs to save him. Aaron, Havoc and Tamara join him (followed by Callum’s mortal enemy Jasper) in order to stop events that are unfolding.

That didn’t make sense, did it? Just trust me on this, the plot is awesome. I was completely unable to put my phone down (I’m reading the ebooks). I’m nervous to see how the next book unfolds since there will be a wait for the fourth and fifth books.


O V E R A L L 

Overall, this book was amazing. It was better than the first, in my opinion. Cassandra Clare and Holly Black manage to create such a unique and original story, managing to push down stereotypes that find their way into most stories. The characters are flawed and the action is mindblowing. Definitely a recommended series.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare | Review

Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: September 9th 2014

Pages: 295

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .


R A M B L E

I want to preface my ramble with the fact that I know this is basically a mash up of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan and Harry Potter by JK Rowling. The thing is, though, those are two of my favourite series that exist. Because of that, it doesn’t take a genius to work out why I loved this book.

The Iron Trial also isn’t the same recycled plot line we have seen with books trying to be the next Percy Jackson or Harry Potter. This book doesn’t include a special snowflake character and it really doesn’t include a character who is instantly popular because of his parentage.

In fact, the only thing this has in common with the other two series is a magic school of sorts and, well, magic. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare manage to create a world unlike any other, with a few stereotypical characters but twists everywhere. I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation.

My four-star rating instead of a five is simply because this book had a lot of information dropped on us. It is the first book in the series, after all. Not a lot happened because of this. We had to learn our characters and the world, so I can only imagine how much better the next books in the series will be.


C H A R A C T E R S

#C A L L U M

Callum Hunt is the main character of this story and he does not want to be at the Magisterium. His father has informed him its full of evil people and he will die. Which, if you ask me, is a lot to tell a twelve-year-old. So, when the trials come along to get into the Magisterium and learn how to be a mage, Callum tries his best to fail every test. Some are easier to fail, like the physical based exercises since all the bones in his leg were shattered when he was a baby, but some he does well at and manages to show that he deserves to be at the school.

I found Callum to be an interesting character. He goes through some major character development throughout the book, considering he went from having no friends bar his father to having two his age (lots of struggles arise with this, of course). He had been so manipulated into a belief by his father that it broke my heart, seeing how he believed everything so completely. It simply shows how trusting children are of their parents.

I definitely enjoyed Callum as the main character and am excited to read about him more.

# T A M A R A

You may look at Tamara and presume she is the classic Hermione or Annabeth of the group, simply as a comparison. Sure, Tamara is the most clued into the Magisterium world, but she is no Hermione or Annabeth. She is on a whole other level that made her kickass. Tamara has expectations to fill and her parents are in the clue on the magic world, definitely not your classic smart girl trope we have seen twice (I would say many times before, but I can’t really think of other times).

I found her refreshing around the boys, she was sarcastic, brilliant and knew what she was doing. A definite role model to young girls who may pick up this series.

#A A R O N

Aaron is the only character in The Iron Trial I’m unsure as to how to feel. I didn’t really connect to him on the same level I did Callum or Tamara, it may because he didn’t say much throughout this book. I’m certain he becomes a larger character as the series progresses, especially with the events that unfolded throughout this book. However, for now, I don’t have many thoughts on him.


P L O T 

Since this is a middle-grade book and the first book in a series there wasn’t too much in the way of plot. We are really getting a feel for the school and the characters, learning the world. There is some plot, don’t get me wrong, it really starts coming into play around 70% though. It is incredibly interesting, what we did learn. I was staring at my ebook with my eyes open and mouth dropped, not something very common in middle-grade novels.


O V E R A L L 

I loved this book. It’s what I needed after so many bad books in a row. I’m excited to pick up the next book in the series. The writing style is basically flawless (remembering it is for a younger audience), Cassandra Clare and Holly Black seamlessly write together and I couldn’t pick apart who had written what. I will definitely need to pick up more of Holly Black’s books once I’m all caught up on this.