Owlcrate Book February 2018: “The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert

“The Hazel Wood”

The Hazel Wood #1

by Melissa Albert

Nikki’s Rating: 4 out of 10

Summary: Bad luck seems to follow them wherever they go so Alice and her mom, Ella, are constantly on the move. When her grandmother, the famous author Althea Proserpine, dies, Alice thinks their curse may be broken. But then Alice begins to notice characters from Althea’s fairy tales all over New York and they are definitely up to no good. And when the kidnap Ella, Alice has no choice but to make her way to the Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s hidden estate and the one place Ella told Alice never to go to.

Owlcrate Book February 2018: “The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Fairy Tales

The fairy tales within “The Hazel Wood” are not our known fairy tales. Instead, they are unique stories, with some of them actually being featured in “The Hazel Wood” novel. They also tend to be rather dark and twisted like many of our original fairy tales, not the Disney versions. For example, one fairy tale features a cold, spoiled princess who turns to ice and kills people or Twice-Killed Katherine who sucks the vitality and life out of others to remain young.

2. Mother & Daughter

While I am a HUGE fan of romance, it was a bit refreshing that “The Hazel Wood” was not focused on a couple. Rather it was a story about a mother and daughter. What made it even more special is that Alice finds out Ella is not her biological mother and yet realizes that blood doesn’t matter. Ella was a mother to Alice in every sense of the word and will remain in her life as her mother. Although, their dynamic was a bit strange in the sense that Alice would sometimes take on the role of parent to Ella and take care of her, which is not healthy for a child.

3. Fairy Tale Characters

One of my favorite things about “The Hazel Wood” is the concept of the fairy tale characters being “alive.” Obviously this means that bad characters such as Twice-Killed Katherine are alive and sucking the life out of people, which is bad. But overall it is a fun concept and I would have liked to see how different characters adjusted to being ex-Story and what they ended up choosing for their lives, fuck the Spinner.

4. The Night Country

The Hazel Wood series continues in Book 2, “The Night Country.”


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10 Valiant Things about Svetlana Alexievich’s “Voices from Chernobyl”

Voices from Chernobyl

by Svetlana Alexievich

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: The haunting account of survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Svetlana Alexievich interviewed not just people who lived there but workers at the nuclear plant, scientists, doctors, soldiers, wives of firefighters, re-settlers, and those involved with the clean up including miners, helicopter pilots, and liquidators. Each story is tragic and harrowing as the aftermath of the disaster continues 10 years later and into the foreseeable future.

10 Valiant Things about Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Survivors

The biggest reason why Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl is so powerful is because it is in the survivors’ own words. Alexievich didn’t edit their words, try to soften them, or change their stories to fit her own perceptions. Many of these stories are horrific but they are real. Someone lived that nightmare and their story is worth being heard.

2. Diversity

Alexievich didn’t stick to interviewing just people who lived in the Zone, she actively searched and interviewed people who were affected by the Chernobyl disaster through different means. Thousands of people got radiation not from living in the Zone but from being involved with the clean up and containment of the nuclear reactor. These include soldiers, miners, liquidators, pilots, and firefighters.

3. Cover-Up

Of course, one of the worst things that Russia did during the Chernobyl disaster is the government attempted to cover-up how bad the disaster really was. Whether to keep face internationally or to avoid panic within the country, the government consistently denied the dangers and they still continue to do so. As noted in Voices from Chernobyl, a physicist in 1999 came forward claiming that living and farming in Belarus was dangerous due to radiation levels and was therefore imprisoned until 2005, upon release he was exiled and remains so.

4. Ignorance

One of the most surprising things to me was the disbelief that many people did have about the effects of radiation even after being warned by those in authority. There were areas that the government did actually evacuate and deemed unsafe for people to stay in and yet many people chose to stay or returned after being evacuated. These people continued eating food grown in the area and used milk and meat from contaminated livestock. One individual described radiation as believable as fairy dust, it cannot be seen and so it must be magic, it is of no consequence to them.

5. Clean-Up

While at times incredibly hard to read, Voices from Chernobyl gives details about how clean-up was done after the disaster. The burying of not just the top layers of soil but of everything above ground in some areas. The systematic killing of livestock, pets, and any animals found within the Zone. And then of course the evacuations of people within the Zone.

6. Willful Negligence

Voices of Chernobyl clearly shows the willful negligence and disregard for life that the Russian government had at the time of the disaster. Not only did they not distribute adequate protective gear for those responding to the disaster, they also didn’t educate them on safety measures that they could have taken. For example, authorities didn’t explain to the clean up crews and soldiers that their clothes would retain radiation. One liquidator allowed his son to wear the cap he wore in the Zone often with no thought of it, his then healthy son developed a brain tumor 2 years later.

7. Aftermath

Many of the stories in Voices of Chernobyl are not about the disaster itself but rather the continuing aftermath. The severely ill children, the high mortality rates, babies being born with defects, women unable to get pregnant or suffering from multiple miscarriages. Each year in Belarus, the number of people with cancer, neurological disorders, mental retardation, and genetic mutations increases.

8. Denial

Going along with the need to cover-up the effects of the Chernobyl disaster, Russia continues to deny them and the devastation radiation can cause. Officially, Russia accepts the Chernobyl death toll of 54 individuals. Many organizations, including the UN, believe that the death toll number is in the thousands with others believing that it may in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Without the government taking responsibility, many families will continue being burdened with expensive medical bills from their loved ones illnesses that were actually caused by radiation due to Chernobyl.

9. The Motherland

So many stories included a sense of pride in the Motherland that I’ve come to associate with the Russian people. While Chernobyl was an epic disaster, many of these stories included love for their fellow man and pride for their country. So many times in tragedy, we show our capability for courage, selflessness, and dedication to the greater good. There were those who knew the dangers of the radiation, who knew they were risking their lives, and still reported to Chernobyl to do what they could for the world, the Motherland, and their loved ones.

10. Love

Overall reading Voices from Chernobyl was difficult as the stories are all heartbreaking to various degrees. But regardless of the sorrow, pain, and suffering, the stories also included love and hope. Love for their land, their home, their family, their friends, their animals. That regardless of this tragedy in their lives, they will go forward and live the best life that they can.


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5 Charming Things about Melissa Darnell’s “Covet”

“Covet”

The Clann #2

by Melissa Darnell

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Being watched by both the Clann and vampire council, Savannah knows that she cannot be with Tristan. To do so would start a war again between the two powerful forces. But as they fight against their love for each other, bodies start turning up and the Clann is screaming for blood. As Tristan tries to maintain order amongst the Clann and save Savannah, he pays the ultimate price for his love.

5 Charming Things about Melissa Darnell’s “Covet”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Supernatural

The Clann series is filled with the supernatural. Vampires, witches, and “Covet” introduces shapeshifters. The best is that Savannah, being born from a witch and a vampire, has all the perks of being a vampire while also being able to use magic.

2. Best Friends

Anne is Savannah’s best friend and she takes this role very seriously. Not only does she accept Savannah’s tales of the supernaturals as truth, Anne doesn’t think any different of Savannah when she reveals that she is a vampire-witch hybrid. And although she is just human, Anne rushes into the battle between the supernaturals to protect her friends.

3. Tristan

In “Covet,” Tristan Coleman continues to show what an amazing fictional boyfriend he is, he is willing to give up everything for Savannah. Regardless of Clann and vampire council rules, he wants to follow his heart and be with Savannah. He goes so far as begging Savannah’s father to turn him into a vampire, knowing that it would be the end of his current life. He even takes over the Clann, something he never, ever wanted to do, in order to protect Savannah.

4. Vampire

Faced with losing him forever or turning him into a vampire, Savannah thankfully chooses the latter. While not the life she would have wanted for him, this does fix a lot of their problems. Now Tristan is no longer part of the Clann, there is no way for the Clann or vampire council to oppose Tristan and Savannah from being together as they are both vampires. The other success is that now Tristan is immortal and Savannah will not have to face watching Tristan grow old and die, facing eternity alone without him.

5. Consume

With Tristan now a full fledged young vampire with strong magic capabilities, The Clann series continues in Book 3, “Consume.”


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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5 Creative Things about Melissa Darnell’s “Crave”

“Crave”

The Clann #1

by Melissa Darnell

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Ostracized by the Clann, Savannah Colbert is just trying to survive high school without drawing the ire of her old friends. But her biggest secret is that she is still in love with her childhood sweetheart Tristan, the future leader of the Clann. As Tristan and Savanna spend more and more time together, they have a harder time denying their feelings. But if they give in to their forbidden love, they risk an all out deadly war between the Clann and vampires.

5 Creative Things about Melissa Darnell’s “Crave”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Supernatural

As a lover of the supernatural, “Crave” was a fun read simply because it featured vampires and witches. It is always interesting to see what myths and legends the author will draw upon for their supernatural world. In The Clann series, vampires are immortal, have increased senses and physical capabilities, can’t eat food, must drink blood, but due to evolution can go out in daylight. They are also descendants of Lilith. I also appreciated that there was a little role reversal as the male protagonist Tristan was the witch and the female protagonist Savannah was the vampire.

2. Tristan

Tristan Coleman is an absolutely wonderful fictional boyfriend! Not only is he charming, thoughtful, and kind to Savannah when they are dating but he was also protective of her before that too. Doesn’t hurt that he is also a hot football player who knows how to do magic.

3. Romeo & Juliet

The Clann is ultimately a retelling of the timeless classic Romeo and Juliet with supernatural beings and taking place in the modern world. Being a hopeless romantic, I loved the premise and I’m really hoping for a happily ever after for Tristan and Savannah.

4. Playlist

Melissa Darnell includes a music playlist in the back of the book featuring songs that go along with each chapter. It’s a fun little bonus to help set the tone and capture the emotions of the characters. Darnell also shows that she has good taste in music, many of the songs were already in my Itunes library.

5. Covet

As things really aren’t going their way, Savannah and Tristan’s story continues on in “Covet,” book 2 of The Clann.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

6 Utmost Things about Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven”

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

by Jon Krakauer

Nikki’s Rating: 6 out of 10

Summary: In July 1984, a woman and her child were brutally murdered by two brothers who believed they were doing God’s work. Looking into the murders and what led these men to do it, Jon Krakauer discovers the violent history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With intensive research, Krakauer takes readers through this history and shows the dangers of fundamentalism of America’s fastest growing religion.

6 Utmost Things about Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Bias

Writing about religion is generally controversial as critics will either claim that the author is villainizing the faith or on the other extreme, prothetizing and only showing the positives. In his “Author’s Remarks”, Jon Krakauer not only shares his personal positive experiences with Mormons, he also includes his own theological frame of reference. While of course this does not absolve him of any biases, it does help readers to know where the author is coming from and to keep that in mind. In this readers opinion, in Under the Banner of Heaven, Krakauer did his job of giving the facts without having a personal agenda.

2. Educational

Under the Banner of Heaven was very educational. Krakauer doesn’t just focus on the murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty but actually looks at the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While I had a basic understanding of Mormonism, Krakauer’s book gave so much more information about their beliefs, rituals, and church hierarchy. And of course, Under the Banner of Heaven includes the darker history of the violence within the Mormon church which I was completely ignorant of.

3. Bibliography

It is apparent that Krakauer did thorough and meticulous research for this novel as the bibliography included in Under the Banner of Heaven is extensive. This provides credence and support to his claims throughout the book.

4. Religion

Throughout Under the Banner of Heaven, Krakauer reminds readers that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not alone with its history of violence but practically every religion is guilty of having followers who use their beliefs to justify harming others. Under the Banner of Heaven was not written specifically to villainize Mormonism but to show the dangers that may occur when individuals turn to fundamentalism and become zealots, Krakauer just uses Mormonism as the example as that is what he was working on at the time. Krakauer brings up solid concerns and questions about the abuse and violence that can be justified in the name of God.

5. Criticism

At the back of the 2004 and onward editions of Under the Banner of Heaven, Krakauer includes an “Appendix” in the Anchor Edition. This includes a “response” to the book by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, authored by the high-ranking church official Richard Turley, as well as Krakauer’s response to this letter. In Krakauer’s response, he gracefully acknowledges mistakes that Turley points out that Krakauer made in the text about the Church but he also rebuttals many things that Turley criticized about Under the Banner of Heaven with sources to support his arguments.

6. Overall

Overall Under the Banner of Heaven was a thoroughly educational novel with an interesting premise. It was well researched and Krakauer included substantial evidence to the facts he presented. In the “Author’s Remarks”, Krakauer includes how he came to write Under the Banner of Heaven. Originally he was working on the interesting phenomenon of a critical, scientific mind coinciding with religious doctrine but his research led him down the road to looking at the Lafferty murders and other violent acts in Mormonism. Again, this was not a personal attack on the Church of Latter-day Saints but rather an intimate look at the dangers of fundamentalism in any religion.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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7 Becoming Things about Victoria Aveyard’s “Broken Throne”

“Broken Throne”

Red Queen #4.5

by Victoria Aveyard

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: A collection of short stories from the exciting Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. With some of the stories taking place before and some taking place during the events of the Red Queen series, it is a must read for all fans to better understand the world’s history and characters. But most importantly, “Broken Throne” ties up loose ends and concludes the Red Queen series.

7 Becoming Things about Victoria Aveyard’s “Broken Throne”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The Red Queen Series

The Red Queen series as a whole is an enchanting and fun read and it was a pleasure to dive back into the world. “Broken Throne” explores more of the Red Queen series featuring stories from side characters, maps, information, and history from different areas of the continent, and details of the Calore line. All these extra details add more vividness and richness to the world and characters.

2. Our World

The world in the Red Queen series is actually supposed to be our world in an alternate future. A dystopian setting where the continent and people are much changed due to time, global warming, and war. While things ultimately ended up working out in the Red Queen series in the sense that humans actually survived, the series remains as a warning for the damage we are currently doing to our world.

3. LGBTQ

The difficulty and acceptance of being part of the LGBTQ community was a common theme throughout the Red Queen series and “Broken Throne” was no exception. Evangeline Samos is seen struggling with the decision to publicly come out after hiding her preference for females for years. Readers get to witness her internal turmoil knowing the disapproval and rejection she may receive from others, especially her mother. This situation really mirrors the reality that millions of individuals experience in real life as they struggle with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

4. Iron Heart

“Iron Heart” was one of my favorite short stories within “Broken Throne.” While Evangeline Samos was pretty villainous throughout the Red Queen series, her character changes as the story progresses and readers, as well as other characters in the novels, begin to understand why she was the way she was. Her story in “Broken Throne” continues showing the more human aspect of her as well as the ways in which she is trying to become a better person.

5. Writing

As with all the books in the Red Queen series, “Broken Throne” was well written, fast-paced, and enthralling. As a reader who generally does not like short stories, I was pleasantly surprised that each story was satisfying and enjoyable.

6. Cal & Mare

As a hopeless romantic, my absolute favorite thing about “Broken Throne” was that Mare and Cal found their way back to each other. Seriously, I thought they were going to continue being stupid and not talk about how they felt about each other. Thankfully this did not happen. Cal respected Mare’s wishes of wanting time to heal and sort her feelings out, Cal did not hold it against her or try to make her change her mind. And then when they were both ready, they were able to get their happily ever after with each other

7. The End

This reader was really disappointed with the ending in “War Storm” and feels that “Broken Throne” rectified this. Totally unsure if Aveyard always intended for the ending in “Broken Throne” or if she put it together due to outcry from fans being disappointed with the ending in “War Storm.” Regardless, “Broken Throne” gave the Red Queen series a conclusion that was gratifying, hopeful, and realistic.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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10 Crucial Things about Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

Columbine

by Dave Cullen

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: Journalist David Cullen looks intensely at the events that occurred April 20, 1999 at Columbine high school when two boys showed up to school with bombs and guns. Based on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, and the boys’ own diaries and video recordings, Cullen pieces together how the tragedy unfolded and how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold came to be cold-blooded killers.

10 Crucial Things about Dave Cullen’s Columbine

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Correcting Mistakes

One of the biggest tragedies that occurred after the violence of Columbine ended was the neverending misinformation that spread like wildfire through the media. Sadly, many people do not realize that what was publicized during the months after Columbine was far from the truth as the media does not wait for thorough investigations and research. Dave Cullen’s Columbine attempts to correct these mistakes and reveal the astonishing truth of what happened that day, events that led up to it and the aftermath.

2. Research

Dave Cullen is considered the nation’s foremost authority on the Columbine killers and it is because of the meticulous research he has done and it shows in Columbine. Not only has he studied the thousands of pages from police reports and files, he conducted interviews with other people in the community, including friends and family members of Eric and Dylan. Cullen includes an extensive “Bibliography” at the end of Columbine and has links to many of them on his website to further solidify his claims and verify the facts he presents in his book.

3. The Boys

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were portrayed in the media as outcasts who were part of the “Trench Coat Mafia” and were bullied since they didn’t fit in. The shooting on April 20th, 1999 was viewed as revenge for the boys and that they were specifically targeting jocks and popular kids. The boys actually had a sizable group of friends, were not being bullied but rather there is evidence that they may have been bullies themselves, and they always had multiple social engagements each week. Eric and Dylan were not part of the social group clique known as the Trench Coat Mafia, they simply wore trench coats on the day of the shooting to help conceal their firearms. And lastly, the boys were never targeting specific people, Columbine was not a mass shooting but a failed bombing. Their purpose was to take out as many people as they could before they died, the goal was not revenge but rather a “fuck you” to the world and the system. To put it in perspective, they were meant to carry out their bombing on April 19th, the anniversary of the Waco raid and the Oklahoma bombing. Thankfully, Eric was not competent at making bombs.

4. Psychology

Consulting and interviewing renowned psychologists who have also viewed and studied the boys’ diaries and video tapes, Cullen presents their consensus that Eric Harris was a psychopath. In Columbine, Cullen includes studies and facts about psychology and psychopaths and does an amazing job of showing evidence that Eric Harris fits the profile of a psychopath.

5. Respect

Throughout Columbine, Dave Cullen shows the utmost respect to everyone he mentions. Whether parents’ of the killers or the victims, Cullen is respectful, never placing blame or that their reactions are unwarranted or over the top. Cullen also omitted names when necessary either by his own discretion or being asked to do so by the person. Cullen also reminds readers that only top officials were involved and complacent in the police cover-up surrounding Columbine, maintaining the integrity of the force as a whole.

6. Facts Only

Insinuations and unsupported theories are not seen in Dave Cullen’s Columbine. Even surrounding the interviews done under oath with the Harrises, which will not be made public until 2027, Cullen does not hint at anything he thinks may be revealed. He gives facts and keeps his own biases and judgments out of the book.

7. Healing

Probably one of the most powerful elements that Dave Cullen shares in Columbine is the many ways that the community came together to heal from the tragedy of Columbine. Cullen shares a look of the multiple public dedications and memorials that happened in response but also includes the small things that individual victims were doing for themselves to heal.

8. Afterwards

As healing can take time, Cullen also shares how the victims and/or their families are doing ten years later. It is amazing that the principal that was there during Columbine, stayed in his job and actually reaches out to other principals who have a shooting at their school. Or that some of the victims and their families were able to forgive Eric and Dylan and their families as well, regardless of the pain and suffering they caused. It is really a testament to how strong the human spirit can be, no matter what we go through.

9. Policies

The tragedy of Columbine did cause some changes to policies and laws, although this reader will say that gun laws are still ridiculously lax no matter how many mass shootings our country experiences. Regardless, Cullen brings up some of the changes Columbine caused such as the Zero Tolerance many schools now follow, which seem to not be helpful as it usually involves kids just blowing off steam, which led both the FBI and the Secret Service to publish reports to help faculty identify serious threats. In 2003, “The Active Shooter Protocol” that was released in response to Columbine that now mandates the objective is to take out the shooters at any cost instead of creating a perimeter and waiting for SWAT.

10. Blame

Columbine was written very well especially in regards to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. While he mentions other killers who were inspired by Harris and Klebold, Dave Cullen did not write the book in a way that glorified the killers. But just as important, Cullen does not crucify Eric and Dylan. He presents facts and shows ways that systems failed to prevent the tragedy, such as the police not investigating complaints and concerns about Eric Harris making pipe bombs and how easy it was for the boys to attain guns, but Cullen doesn’t put the blame on all one person or system. Cullen does a great job of humanizing both Eric and Dylan, reminding readers that while they made their decisions and are therefore responsible for their actions, there are elements that society is responsible for to help prevent these tragedies. 


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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7 Quixotic Things about Holly Black’s “The Queen of Nothing”

“The Queen of Nothing”

The Folk of the Air #3

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.

7 Quixotic Things about Holly Black’s “The Queen of Nothing”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. LGBTQ+

The Folk of the Air series features a positive LGBTQ relationship between Vivi and Heather. Thankfully in Faerie there seems to be an overall acceptance for many kinds of love relationships. What this reader appreciated as well is that Black made Vivi and Heather’s relationship believable with problems included. No relationship is perfect, there will be conflict, and the possibility for the relationship to end.

2. Prophecy

Books with prophecies are enjoyable as then the reader gets to guess on how said prophecy will develop or play detective trying to figure out if some of the prophecy has already come to pass. Cardan’s prophecy in The Folk of the Air series was originally interpreted as negative and actually led to Cardan being mistreated all his life. However, the fulfillment of the prophecy was not a bad thing at all but actually very positive for kingdom of Faerie.

3. Mercy

Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust While taught by her adopted father, Madoc, to be unforgiving and merciless, Jude showed Madoc mercy nonetheless once he was defeated. This shows immense growth in Jude as a character, she easily could have called for his execution for the crimes of killing her biological parents, practically killing her, and then the crimes against the king. Her mercy also makes sense since she does love him like a father regardless of the spilled blood between them, one can love and hate someone simultaneously.

4. Redemption

The cause of the Ghost’s betrayal was finally revealed and it was a great relief to discover that he was being controlled. Although this reader would really like to know what Locke’s deal was and why he was fucking with Jude. Perhaps he really was just a mischievous asshole who liked to make good stories but what was the end game, what was in it for him? Regardless, the Ghost’s betrayal was forgiven, he redeems himself by rejoining with Jude and there appears to be a blossoming love between him and Taryn.

5. Love

Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly As stated above, no relationship is perfect. Cardan and Jude experience major misunderstandings and miscommunications, they are constantly hurting each other because they are afraid and yet they love each other deeply. And in the end, they are able to accept each other regardless of faults, weaknesses, and past hurts. They choose each other and choose love.

6. Writing

Holly Black created a stunning, imaginative world filled with adventure, romance, magic, collusion, humor, and heartache. Black is able to paint a picture with her words without pulling away from the action of the story and keep the reader engaged. “The Queen of Nothing” was a fast-paced novel that was fun and hard to put down.

7. The End

Overall The Folk of the Air series has a happy ending. Cardan and Jude are married and rule Faerie jointly, Madoc is exiled to the mortal lands and Oak gets to see his parents as he likes, Vivi and Heather have repaired their relationship, and Taryn is forgiven her crime and is free of Locke. Faerie is no longer on the brink of civil war, traitors were dealt with fairly, and things are relatively calm and pleasant in Elfhame and the Undersea.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

7 Weleful Things about Holly Black’s “The Wicked King”

“The Wicked King”

The Folk of the Air #2

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.

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7 Weleful Things about Holly Black’s “The Wicked King”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Characters

Characters in The Folk of the Air series are complex, believable, and relatable. Not one character is absolutely good or evil. The main protagonist Jude is power hungry and manipulative. Taryn, her good-natured, well-behaved sweet sister betrays her for a boy. And even Balekin, who is mostly an evil bastard, has some redeeming qualities.

2. The Undersea

Faerieland in The Folk of the Air is enchanting and magical. Filled with countless beings of all shapes, sizes, and colors, it is apparent that Holly Black was inspired by many different myths, legends, and folklore about faeries. In “The Wicked King” readers get to experience more of the land of Faerie and get to see the world of the Undersea and more of Orlagh’s merpeople and selkies.

3. Writing

Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust and trying to figure out who is pulling the strings on whom. With a fantastic imagination, Black blasts us through this Faerieland adventure that is hard to put down.

4. Cardan

Cardan really starts to grow into a more likable character in “The Wicked King.” Not only is he embracing not being cruel but he begins to understand that as a king, he does have some responsibilities to his people. And thankfully, it seems that the land accepts Cardan.

5. Jude & Cardan

Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly denying their feelings and are pretty volatile towards each other. And then without talking about their feelings they just went ahead and got married. Idiots.

6. Balekin

This reader would like to take a moment to celebrate that this asshole is dead, hoorah! Manipulative, sadistic, murderous, deceptive, abusive, the list could go on. Balekin was clearly a villain and yet, Cardan couldn’t bring himself to have him executed. This shows how unmonstrous Cardan actually is and that for all the outward appearance of being cold and uncaring, he is actually soft-hearted and feels deeply. It also reminds readers that it was Balekin who took Cardan in when he was abandoned by their father because of a prophecy.

7. The Queen of Nothing

Jude’s adventure concludes in Book 3 of The Folk of the Air series, “The Queen of Nothing.”


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