Book Review: The Wicked King By Holly Black

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in this series: The Cruel Prince. You can find my spoiler free review here. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do. It’s fantastic!

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Goodreads Synopsis:

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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This book is going to give me such a hangover.

Have you ever had a book lull you into a complete sense of security only to have it rip it out from under you like some old woven rug with the very last page? BECAUSE I HAVE AND I AM NOT OK! This book wrecked me. To say I loved it just doesn’t feel like enough! I want to go back in time and stop myself from reading The Cruel Prince so that I wouldn’t have to deal with waiting a whole year for the last book to come out. The Wicked King was everything I had hoped for and maybe a little more.

The Wicked King picks up five months after the events of The Cruel Prince. Cardan Greenbriar, High King of Elfhame now resides on the throne. However, it is Jude Duarte, his mortal seneschal, who holds all the power! Jude has become increasingly distanced from her family and is well and truly caught up in the power she has over the King and his court. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is vying for the throne, while Jude and her Court of Shadows continue their scheme to keep Cardan on the throne until Jude’s younger brother, Oak, is old enough to take over.

This book was absolute perfection! Holly Black has such a knack for story telling that she honestly makes you feel that if you were to look up from the page, you’d be in Elfhame along side Jude. She takes the term “twists and turns” and knocks it out of the park! There were schemes on schemes on schemes and I was living for it. Jude and Cardan where EV-E-RY-THING! Their love-hate relationship  had me completely enthralled. The snide banter, sexual tension and slow unraveling of feelings was amazing. I quite honestly, wouldn’t have minded more of their interactions throughout the book. It was that slow development of trust for each other over time that was my undoing when I read those last few pages.

I am wholeheartedly invested in these books and it is going to take everything in me to not wail at the thought of having to wait another year to read The Queen of Nothing. So until then, you’ll most likely find me rocking back and forth, a copy of The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King in my arms, muttering hysterically about how much I love Cardan Greenbriar despite him being, in fact, rather wicked.

This book is very easily a 5 star read for me. The whimsical nature of the world of Faerie, the snarky, sexy character interactions and the seamless extension and execution of the plot all come together to create a truly incredible read. I need the last book, like, yesterday please.

Book Review: Emergency Contact By Mary H. K. Choi

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Goodreads Synopsis:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

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I had a hard time reviewing this book. Mainly because I both loved it and kind of also, not hated, that’s too strong of a word, but, I disliked it too. I don’t often read contemporary YA novels and it’s strange to say that although I disliked a few things about this book, it was still interesting and gripping enough for me to know I could probably read it again and enjoy it if I wanted to.

Emergency Contact is a story that unfolds through the perspective of both Sam, a tattooed, sensitive, coffee shop manager and the intense, apocalypse survival kit enthusiast, Penny. After a not so smooth meeting, they exchange numbers and become almost immediately inseparable, spending nearly every waking hour text messaging each other.

When I first started reading this book I found the main character, Penny, rather obnoxious. Penny came across as self centred and judgemental to the point of being a hypocrite. She sees herself as something “other” and not like other girls. On several occasions I found her to be abrasive and lacking in any real compassion to anyone with different interests or a different personality to her. She sees nearly every other woman she interacts with as stupid and vapid. Sam was also very self indulgent, but he was easier to warm to than Penny for me. As the book progressed however, it was easy to see why these characters were so deeply flawed and it actually made me like them more as the story progressed and they started growing from their interactions and experiences. The characters, despite being a little unlikable at times, felt real and interesting.

The plot was great! It tackled some pretty intense issues including racism, substance abuse and sexual assault. There were times I did find myself skim reading through a lot of the more dense writing to get back to Penny and Sam’s interactions. I had a few laugh out loud moments when it came to their dialogue which I really loved, but I also had a few eye-roll moments when they both just seemed to come across as a little pretentious. Despite this, I really did end up loving both Sam and the (very) quirky, Penny.

Overall the book was hard to rate. I burned through it in a couple of days and I ended up liking it more and more as the story progressed, however my initial response was a feeling that maybe this was one YA novel I was just too old for (which never happens, I adore YA). I feel really perplexed and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I get the feeling I may read this again and enjoy it more the second time around. Because of this, I am giving Emergency Contact 3.5 stars.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book!