The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
First line: On a drowsy Sunday afternoon, a man in a long dark coat hesitated in front of a house on a tree-lined street.
Summary: After the murder of her parents by a faerie of the High Court, Jude and her sisters are taken back to the land of faery. For years, Jude has trained and wished to be a part of the Court even if she is only human. When the chance arrives in the form of a transition of power, she takes her chance. Entering the world of intrigue, she must outwit her family and the wicked prince, Cardan.
Highlights: This is only the second book by Holly Black that I have read and I definitely know that I will be reading more. Her characters are fantastic. Jude is another kick butt girl in a world where is she is actually considered weak. However, she wants to be a part of the faerie world. And who would not want to be an beautiful immortal? The twists and turns were perfect, leaving the reader shocked and intrigued. There seem to be many books about faeries recently. It is following a growing trend but I think this one will not get lost in the group. I cannot wait to see where the author takes us in the next installment.
Lowlights: It started slow with the introductions and character building but it is worth the wait. Don’t give up on this one too early!
FYI: Book one in the The Folk of the Air series.
The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs
First line: The boy frowned, pressed a folded handkerchief to his nose, and scanned the crowd for the third time.
Summary: Alexander Hamilton, a Revolutionary War hero and the first Secretary of the Treasury, was born in the Caribbean and moved to the American Colonies to attend college. He was not wealthy but he was brave and smart. Eliza Schuyler, a debutante and daughter of a famous general, is helping the war effort by assisting with the wounded at Valley Forge. When these two young people meet a love story begins. But the story still has its ups and downs even after the war is over.
Highlights: I knew basically nothing about Alexander Hamilton other than what I learned in my history classes, which wasn’t much. I had recently read a book about him but it stopped shortly after his marriage to Eliza. When I found out about the affair he had with Maria Reynolds I was completely shocked. I loved the author’s writing style and the flow of the story. I was completely engrossed in this story and I learned a lot. The pacing is really well done. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read more about the man who has become a pop culture phenomenon.
Lowlights: The political intrigue and problems with fellow founding fathers was a little confusing to me. It may all fall on my lack of detailed knowledge of the founding of the United States and all the problems that went along with it. I never realized that there was so much opposition to the changes and that they believed that Hamilton was interested in being King even though he fought so hard to end the rule of England over the colonies. Some of the pieces with the animosity with the fellow politicians was a little too much but it was building up to what led to the duel with Aaron Burr.
FYI: Great history lesson. Get the information that you missed in high school history.
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
First line: The steam rising off the backs of the cantering horses faded into the morning fog.
Summary: Fallon is the daughter of a king. She has trained her whole life in order to join her father’s war band and avenge the death of
her sister, who died at the hands of Julius Caesar. Instead, she is captured by slavers and taken from her home in Britannia to Rome to be sold as a gladiatrix, a female gladiator. Knowing that the only way to escape her life as a slave is to buy her freedom or death, she decides to become the greatest gladiator that Rome has ever seen.
Highlights: An exciting historical action book filled with fighting and bravery. I liked Fallon from the beginning. She is a strong female lead character that fights for herself rather than relying on men to help her. I am ready for the second book to be released already.
I have visited Rome and seen the Colosseum. It is breathtaking in how large the arena is and that it is still standing two millennia later. Gladiators and animals fought and died in the arena for the entertainment of thousands of Romans. It could be filled with water for sea battles. Many underground tunnels and rooms can be seen below the floor of the building. Even though this story takes place before the Colosseum was built, I can imagine that the spectacle was quite impressive.
Lowlights: I felt that a few plot points were a little predictable but the author did not seem to rely too much on these reveals. The relationship with Cai seemed to evolve a little quickly but in YA this seems to be a normal process especially when the story is not focused on this and the plot has to move along.
FYI: If you loved the movie Gladiator this is a great read.