book reviews, Uncategorized

Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Book Review

26032912._SY475_Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Rating: XXXX

Published November 19th by Hot Key Books

“You will be nothing. You are nothing…You come from nothing and it is to nothing you will return,” he whispers against my neck.

He will be the destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

Queen of Nothing has been one of my most anticipated books to be released this year. I hadn’t been sure I enjoyed some aspects of The Cruel Prince but fell head over heels, irrevocably in love with The Wicked King and have been eager to get my hands on the conclusion to the trilogy since I read the last page of the second book. So much so in fact that I pre-ordered stupidly early and was lucky enough to receive my Waterstones edition (you get letters from Cardan to Jude included as an extra and if you ship those idiots then you will NOT want to miss out on this edition trust me) almost a week before the official release date but I had agreed to wait until my friend received hers to read it so I patiently waite (By patiently I mean that I got my taller than me, husband to hide my copy on top of the board games which are, in turn, on top of my bookshelves so I couldn’t reach it). When the time came to start it I may have then read it over the course of about two days. I know a lot of people have read it much quicker, some in one sitting but I had NaNoWriMo to contend with and a four-year-old who isn’t at school much so I’m pretty proud of what I did manage.

So now to discuss the book itself…I definitely enjoyed it, maybe on par with The Cruel Prince or a little lower. If I had to rank them in order I would say that Queen of Nothing was probably my least favourite but it was just in good, just in different ways. The Cruel Prince was, I think, the forming of Jude, in The Wicked King we see her coming into her own and then in Queen of Nothing she is out of her comfort zone and we see yet another side to Jude that is something between the two versions I think that we’ve seen so far. Jude has become one of my favourite fictional characters over the course of these books for many different reasons, I love that she’s smart but not to the point of absolute cockiness, she makes mistakes and she admits them, she’s conniving and she plays people and tricks them like the best (and worst) of the fey and I love that she just feels so unapologetic. “What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.” or in this book “I feel like a constellation of wounds, held together with string and stubbornness.” Jude is strong on so many different levels and I love her.

I loved seeing other sides to a lot of the other characters as well, especially a bit more of an insight into Maddoc and Tayrn and my boy Cardan really made me proud in this book too. A new character that was introduced quite early on in this book who had been mentioned at least in passing previously was a great addition too and one that became a firm favourite of mine too, particularly how she was brought into the story. A lot of the relationships, not just romantic ones got a lot of attention in this book as well which was a welcome addition and one much needed, I think, in a third book as we already know the characters fairly well but how they interact with each other and their reasons for doing so adds another needed level to them. I’m glad the members of the Court of Shadows their own part in the story too and no one was really forgotten, the good and the bad.

There wasn’t a whole lot of world-building in Queen of Nothing but as the third book in a trilogy set in the same places as the first two books it didn’t really need it, I particularly loved the fey presence in the human world and would honestly love a book or group of short stories around the folk there as I found the concept a really interesting one. Some of the insights we did get however was a little more information regarding the political side of the Fey Courts and some great new lore.

As for the plot and story itself, it was enjoyable but probably the least strong out of the three books. There are the odd few little twists and one that was a little shocking but I don’t think it really had the effect on me that it was meant to for some reason or another, whether that’s because I had come to expect big twisty moments from these books and over-hyped it for myself or because it seemed like something I expected or at the very least expected to be solved I’m not sure. I liked that it wasn’t completely out of left field though and made a lot of sense. The story is well-paced for the most part although I did find the last third felt a bit off balance especially the part that I imagine would be the last climax of the story. Again, it wasn’t bad and it could genuinely be my expectations and the final book curse, I often don’t really like final books and have found very few that fully meet my expectations or hopes and feel flat. Queen of Nothing isn’t the worst final book I’ve read but doesn’t quite make it into some of the best, this is all personal opinion though and I know a lot of people really did enjoy the ending. I enjoyed the ending but just felt that bit before needed some more whammy to it.

Overall the book really is a great read that I enjoyed reading I just wish it wasn’t the end although I don’t think there’s really much else to do with the story now in a vein that I would enjoy or perhaps do it justice. Either way, this is a series I’ve loved and I think will stick with me for a good long while, especially some of the beautiful quotes Holly has given us throughout the three books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spoiler free, Tags

Days of the week Book tag – November

tag Thursday

While blog hopping recently I came across a set of book tags by Adventures Between Pages where each month she creates a book tag based on the days of the week and I love this idea so much! After doing the Autumn book tag last month I wanted to do another monthly themed one and so I thought I would give this a try, you can find her original November post here and although it doesn’t seem there is currently a December one I might give it a try myself next month and see if its something I can carry on with! But for now, let’s get started!

Make-out Monday: Fictional Character you would love to make-out with: See now this is kind of already a tough one because I’m a ‘shipper’ so the appeal of a lot of characters I find attractive is because of how they feel about their partners like Rhysand from ACOTAR for example. If I had to pick one though I’d probably say Damon from The Vampire Diaries or Jace from the Shadowhunters books to be fair.

Turkey Tuesday: Favorite seasonal read during the fall/winter seasons: I used to reread quite a bit, I would read The Hobbit in the Spring and the first Harry Potter book in the Autumn/Winter but I don’t do many rereadings lately other than sometimes if I can’t sleep I listen to Eddie Redmayne read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,

Wacky Family Wednesday: A book/series that has a wacky (dysfunctional) family: This seems to be a theme in a fair few of the books I read which I’ve never noticed before! Because I’m reading it at the moment though (and almost finished) I’m going to say the Greenbriars from The Folk of the Air, dysfunctional is another way to say “always trying to murder each other” right?

Thankful Thursday: An Author you are thankful for: Another tough one! I think maybe I am the most thankful for Christie Golden. I adore so many of her books and am yet to read one I dislike even slightly but more than that she has this wonderful habit of making me fall further in love with some of my favourite games. Her World of Warcraft books especially have really helped me feel involved in the goings-on in Azeroth (and beyond), I love all the little details, the way she really gets these characters, even if she didn’t originally create them and she makes you feel for them, all of them. I’m so SO pleased she’s now a part of the story team for the game itself now.

Fun Fact Friday: Your favourite book plus a fun fact about you: Now, my favourite book changes quite often so going forward I think I’ll keep this question the same each month. I think currently The Wicked King by Holly Black might be my favourite (or at least sharing the top spot with The loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James). It has such a great mix of so many things I love, Fae, court intrigue, trickery, plot twists, love/hate and I adore the characters of both Jude and Cardan.
Fun Fact about me: I really like swimming and I miss it a lot because I’ve not been able to go recently.

Shut the Front Door Saturday: A book that made your jaw hit the floor. You didn’t see that plot/twist coming: Basically any book by Lauren James? I would probably say the twist in The Quiet at the End of the World as I literally yelled in surprise and scared the crap out of my husband at two in the morning.

Sci-Fi Sunday: Favorite sci-fi book/series: Okay so definitely the Illuminae Series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman obviously, I adore them so much and they’re one of the few series I can talk to Chris about as he has read and loves them too.

Ahh that was so much fun! Keep an eye out for ALL of the seasonal-themed book tags next month because Christmas is my thing, TIS THE SEASON. Well almost…I mean I’ve got all my Christmas shopping done pretty much so it’s technically the season?

 

spoiler free, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday 20th November 2019

www wednesday

Considering I’m still on target with NaNoWriMo I’m quite pleased I’ve actually managed to get a fair bit of reading in this past fortnight! It’s certainly been helped that I’ve been reading some brilliant books I’m sure!

If you want to join in with WWW don’t forget to send over a big thank you to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for keeping WWW alive and kicking.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

My copy of Queen of Nothing by Holly Black arrived a few days early but I’m proud to say I managed to finish the book I have been currently reading at the time and managed to wait until my friend got their copy so we can buddy read before starting it but I’m reading it now and OMG. I didn’t realise how much I missed this series of books! I somehow forgot just how much I adore Jude and realised that she may actually be one of my all-time favourite characters. I also forgot just how much I loved the court intrigues and the push for power etc as well as the (I’m well aware) messed up relationship between Jude and Cardan. This whole book (so far) has felt like returning home and reading something written just for me.

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished CTRL – S by Andy Briggs and although I wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t think it had the greatest start for me personally I found it wholly addictive and picked it up to read every moment I could (review coming very soon). The day I finished CTRL – S my Kickstarter copy of NPC Tea: Issue Seven by Sarah Milman came in and I feverishly devoured that in one sitting, it went so fast! Too fast! So much was explained and so much happened and I was distraught when I read the end and realised the next issue would be the last! It was left on a massive cliffhanger and I fear the wait for the next issue in February might kill me, I’m hoping all the Star Wars goodness to come in the next couple of months will help keep me distracted.

What do you think you’ll read next?

My first instinct was to say Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse and I do really want to read this next but I’ve got time as The Rise of Skywalker isn’t out until mid-December so I figured it would actually probably be best to read  The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli first instead. I loved the first two Iskari books and I don’t want to risk ruining it while trying to read it while being full-on into my yearly Star Was hype fest/obsession.

I’m so blessed to have been able to read and get hold of SO many great books that are all coming out right now and I’m so excited to read them all! What are you excited to read right now? Are there any new releases you’re excited to get your hands on or already have?

 

 

#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Books I wanna snuggle with

Six for Sunday
This prompt is absolutely perfect. As I sit writing this I am currently in my comfiest PJ’s wearing my snuggliest pair of bed-socks and I’ve just managed to spend an entire hour snuggled up with a blanket and a book in my reading corner and let me tell it was pure bliss. I’ve found recently that I was snatching time to read books wherever and whenever I could, reading a few pages at a time etc but a couple of days ago I decided no matter how busy I get, no matter just how much I have to do, I am going to get comfortable and I’m going to spend at least half an hour on my sofa in the evening, in my reading room with a book, just reading and chilling out. Let me tell you, it’s only been a few days but I just feel so much more relaxed and calmer for it. I cannot recommend it enough. So now that I’ve enlightened you let’s crack on with books I wanna snuggle with.

Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
My copy of the last book (I think?) in the folk of the air series came early and it’s taking all of my willpower right now not to just immediately devour the entire damn thing. I’m currently reading a book for a blog tour in early December so I need to finish that and I’d promised to buddy read it with a friend who hasn’t received their copy yet and is away for the weekend. As a result, I’ve asked my husband to hide the book somewhere I can’t find or get to it because I have no willpower. This morning I found it on top of our board games which live on my bookshelves, it’s the highest point in our flat and I can’t reach it. Smart guy! So what I’m trying to say is that I would really love to snuggle up and read this damn book right now.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
This is a prime snuggling up book, there are so many lovely sweet moments and it’s such an easy book to just fall into it’s absolutely perfect.

Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse
Much like with Queen of Nothing this is a book I desperately want to read as soon as I can. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since it was announced and I can think of nothing better than snuggling up with a long-awaited book,

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This is one of my favourite reads of the past few years and a book I would happily read again, this definitely feels like it would be a good book to snuggle up with on a cold night just thinking about it is making me want to reread it!

Finding Home by Hari Conner
Another brilliant graphic novel and quite possibly my favourite I’ve ever read. The slow burn is SO on point that I cannot explain and the art is absolutely exquisite. I could read this anywhere but I feel like snuggled up in bed is probably the best to enjoy it.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Another book that I tend to enjoy rereading which is weird because I actually hated it the first time I read it. I think this one might be interchangeable with A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury as well as these are all books that hold a lot of nostalgia for me I think nostalgia and nice, warm comfy blankets are a good combination,

I feel like I need to crawl back into bed with a good book now! What books do you love to snuggle up with?

book reviews, spoiler free

The Wicked King by Holly Black

26032887The Wicked King by Holly Black

Rating: XXXX

Published January 8th by Hot Key Books

Kiss me until I am sick of it”

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.

(Also this review will contain no spoilers for The Wicked King, I cannot guarantee any non spoiler content for the first book in the series, The Cruel Prince.)

I read the first book in this series, The Cruel Prince on release last year after being super excited for when Holly Black herself told us all about it at the event with her and Cassandra Clare the year before and for those who have seen the review I did for it on YouTube last year you’ll know how much I loved it and it really heightened my love for the Hate/Love troupe and for potentially morally ambiguous murder girls like Jude. So suffice to say I’ve been pretty excited for this sequel since the moment I read the last page of The Cruel Prince and although I wasn’t able to get this one dead on release day this time, I did get it a week later and absolutely devour it the moment I got it and at every available opportunity afterwards until I finished it.

The Wicked King has a similar tone to The Cruel Prince but with much higher stakes, the way Jude is treated as Seneschal to the High King is obviously different to how she was treated as a mortal child, weather “daughter” of the high general or not but she still faces the same kind of degradation and mocking, it’s just a lot more underhanded but no less impactful. What does change the way a lot of these moments play out is Jude’s reaction to these occurrences and how her actions in retaliation can have a larger ripple affect in all of her plans and potentially the future of Elfhame. I enjoyed the new dynamic as I always used to read a lot of Historical Fiction with a large amount of under handed court scheming and the like so this felt like very familiar territory and done especially well i that style that Holly Black has where she can make everything seem beautiful and mesmerising yet deadly and terrifying all at once.

We got to see a lot more of the inner workings of the High Kings court in The Wicked King then we did via the Court of Shadows previously which I found interesting but occasionally they were sandwiched in between some other really tantalising part of the story and I found myself racing through those parts to get back to it, a little like most of the Sansa Stark chapters in the Game of Thrones books (unrelated note – Sansa is so much more awesome in the show). This wasn’t a huge problem by any means but I think it might have affected my rating a little because it sticks out in my mind as making the middle feel a little slow or frustrating which is crazy because they were still written well and fairly interesting they just had the misfortune to be placed between parts I was desperate to get back to. That being this may have a just been a great tension building technique that may have gone over my head.

Locke, Cardan and Jude were all brilliantly terrible as they were originally, by terrible I mean I like that everyone is morally grey and for want of a better term to describe them “chaotic neutral” in that they are just as much likely to stab you in the face as help you depending on their mood and thanks to Holly this is easily becoming one of my favourite types of characters. I love that Cardan is so hard to read, for Jude and for me as the reader, there’s just something about feeling like you can never truly trust any of these characters that I adore and Cardan is one hundred percent the best example of that. Taryn was another character I think excelled in The Wicked King, especially in the latter half of the book, I found her quite irritating in The Cruel Prince and although we see less of her in the sequel, what we do see of her is brilliant.

I won’t speak too much on the ‘relationship’ between Jude and Cardan but although I know the “I hate you because I love/want you” is not a healthy basis for a real life relationship in any way shape or form, especially with the lengths of cruelty and manipulation these two can take it too but that is the beauty of Fiction because for these characters especially it suits so well and I’m so very here for it, especially with it being a very two way thing between them both. Also the quote “Kiss me until I’m sick of it” is probably one of my top ten favourite quotes of all time.

As expected I was completely blown away by the last one hundred pages and made the mistake of staying up late to finish it as I couldn’t put it down and then being unable to sleep for thinking “well, what comes next” for the next two hours. If you loved or enjoyed The Cruel Prince I definitely recommend picking up its sequel for more of the same great content but with higher stakes, more Jude murdering, more Jude and Cardan, more fae scheming and back stabbing – lots of my favourite things.