Mini-Reviews: The Queen of Nothing, Tweet Cute, & The King of Crows

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Source: Borrowed

He will be 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…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.

My thoughts on this series have been all over the place. While I thought The Cruel Prince had a slow start, I did find myself really enjoying it once it picked up. I found The Wicked King incredibly underwhelming. But The Queen of Nothing? Finally. A book that I loved.

I feel like Jude was at her best in this book. She’s finally lost a lot of the stupidity that defined her character in the first two books. She’s strengthened her relationships with a lot of the other characters and she’s just grown as a character so much.

The main reason this book got four stars and not five is that some major things happen off-page, which was a little disappointing. But aside from that, I really, really enjoyed this book. It was definitely a worthy conclusion to this series.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Source: Borrowed

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected. 

I’d seen so many glowing reviews of Tweet Cute that I was a little nervous to read it. But sometimes, when things get stressful, I turn to cute, fluffy contemporaries. And really, what’s more stressful than a global pandemic that’s prevented me from leaving my house?

Tweet Cute was just what I needed. This book is cute, it’s funny, it’s full of banter, and it includes some really sassy tweets. I liked both Pepper and Jack, and I really appreciated the way the book handled all of the pressure in their lives.

My main dislike in this book was Pepper’s mom, who we’re definitely not supposed to like. She felt one-dimensional and I wish we would have seen more growth and consequences for her character. But overall, this was a super fun book and I’m glad I took the time to read it!

The King of Crows by Libba Bray
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Source: Borrowed

The breath-taking finale to the epic New York Times bestseller, The Diviners, from Printz winner and beloved author, Libba Bray.

After the horrifying explosion that claimed one of their own, the Diviners find themselves wanted by the US government, and on the brink of war with the King of Crows.

While Memphis and Isaiah run for their lives from the mysterious Shadow Men, Isaiah receives a startling vision of a girl, Sarah Beth Olson, who could shift the balance in their struggle for peace. Sarah Beth says she knows how to stop the King of Crows-but, she will need the Diviners’ help to do it.

Elsewhere, Jericho has returned after his escape from Jake Marlowe’s estate, where he has learned the shocking truth behind the King of Crow’s plans. Now, the Diviners must travel to Bountiful, Nebraska, in hopes of joining forces with Sarah Beth and to stop the King of Crows and his army of the dead forever.

But as rumors of towns becoming ghost towns and the dead developing unprecedented powers begin to surface, all hope seems to be lost.

In this sweeping finale, The Diviners will be forced to confront their greatest fears and learn to rely on one another if they hope to save the nation, and world from catastrophe…

I read the first Diviners book in 2013 (pre-blog!), and now, seven years later, the series is done. There isn’t much that I can say about this book without spoiling the series, so I’m going to keep this pretty short.

My favorite thing about this series is the atmosphere. While reading, I actually felt like I was in a spooky version of 1920s New York City. Libba Bray has such a way with words and any time I read one of her books, I’m so pleasantly surprised with how she can transport me directly into the setting.

My second favorite thing about this series is the characters. They’re all different, they have their own stories and struggles, and they’re all so lovable. Even characters that I didn’t necessarily like at the beginning of the series grew on me so much. (Except Jericho. I’m done with him after book three.)

I’m a little sad that this series is over, but I’m excited to read whatever Libba writes next.

Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good YA recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt

How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Source: Borrowed

What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime?

How Music Got Free is a riveting story of obsession, music, crime, and money, featuring visionaries and criminals, moguls and tech-savvy teenagers. It’s about the greatest pirate in history, the most powerful executive in the music business, a revolutionary invention and an illegal website four times the size of the iTunes Music Store. 

Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Through these interwoven narratives, Witt has written a thrilling book that depicts the moment in history when ordinary life became forever entwined with the world online — when, suddenly, all the music ever recorded was available for free. In the page-turning tradition of writers like Michael Lewis and Lawrence Wright, Witt’s deeply-reported first book introduces the unforgettable characters—inventors, executives, factory workers, and smugglers—who revolutionized an entire artform, and reveals for the first time the secret underworld of media pirates that transformed our digital lives.

An irresistible never-before-told story of greed, cunning, genius, and deceit, How Music Got Free isn’t just a story of the music industry—it’s a must-read history of the Internet itself.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to listen to an album, you could just… download it. Any song you could possibly be looking for, no matter how obscure, was available for download in the shady corners of the internet, and if you couldn’t find it, one of your friends definitely knew someone who could. It was great. I still remember very clearly when those sites started disappearing, so I was really excited to read a book about the rise and fall of music piracy.

The story here is interesting. Witt covers all the major players in the torrenting scene — the people who invented the mp3, the people who leaked the music, the record company executives who had to deal with declining sales — and brings up points I hadn’t even thought to wonder about. Back in the day, these songs just appeared. You didn’t have to think about who put them there, how they did it, and what they risked, so in that way, I really enjoyed reading this book.

But for being a book about music piracy, it only seemed to skim the surface of the issue. I was hoping to read about music blogs, LUElinks, and file-sharing sites like MegaUpload, which were kind of the trifecta of piracy in my circles, but they were nowhere to be found in this book. I realize that these sites aren’t quite as sensational as the employees of CD factories sneaking music past security guards, but they were used much more commonly than torrents by the people I knew. I would’ve also liked a bit more discussion on modern answers to piracy, like Spotify, or even YouTube, which used to immediately remove copyrighted songs and now provides free access to just about any song you could want.

In short, this book was interesting, but I wanted more. I’ll definitely be browsing the library’s nonfiction section for more books on the music industry.

#mm20: seeing red

Have you read How Music Got Free? Have you read any good books on the music industry?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed

10:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

Before I start my review, I have to mention that the only reason I really wanted to read this book was that it made me think of the Keane song, which I was obsessed with when I was 14 years old. I just listened to it again and it took me right back!

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the review.

I’d previously read Maurene Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel in 2018, and felt that the characters were written to sound a lot younger than they actually were. The character I related to most in that book was the father, so yikes. In Somewhere Only We Know, that’s no longer the case. I felt like both Lucky and Jack were much more mature than I’d expect for characters of their age and it continually surprised me when I was reminded that they were supposed to be teenagers.

I think, overall, this book was pretty cute. I liked Lucky a lot, and Goo did a great job of making a celebrity seem relatable. I liked the exploration of mental illness in Korean culture and body image/dieting. I also liked Jack. He seemed to truly care what about what happened to Lucky from the first minute he met her. I’ve also never read a book about the paparazzi before, so that was an interesting wrench to throw in the story. All of the things that Lucky and Jack did on their romantic day out were so cute, too. This book made Hong Kong seem like the most magical place to visit.

With all of that said, there were also things that didn’t sit quite right with me. First of all, this book is heavy on the instalove. It takes place in one day, okay. ONE DAY. I’m a romantic at heart, but it was a little much even for me. The constant lying also bothered me. If you’re going to fall in love in 24 hours, at least be honest with each other! Good relationships are not built on a bed of lies!

Overall, this book kind of reminded me of a better executed Permanent Record. I still didn’t love it, and I’ll probably forget the entire plot by the end of the week, but it was fun while it lasted.

#mm20: winter wonderland

Have you read Somewhere Only We Know? Can you recommend any good celebrity romances?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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2020 Reading Goals!

I’m mixing things up in 2020 by not doing most of my usual reading challenges! I looked through a ton of challenges that seemed like they’d be fun and I even contemplated creating my own challenge, but in the end, this is what I decided to go with.

As usual, I’m going for 100 books in 2020! I think this will be the fifth year that I’ve set this goal for myself.

What’s in a Name is hosted by Andrea @ Carolina Book Nook and it’s pretty simple! You can read a book in any format (print, ebook, audio) at any point in 2020 that fits the following categories:

  • an ampersand
  • an antonym
  • 4 letters or less
  • a given/first name
  • reference to children
  • one of the four natural elements

I’m really excited for this one!

I’ve done the Monthly Motif reading challenge a few times, and I’m excited to do it again in 2020. This is a challenge hosted at girlxoxo that just involves reading at least one book per month that fits the given prompt. 2020’s prompts include:

  • winter wonderland
  • seeing red
  • sub-genre sound off
  • classics or currents
  • author introduction
  • name or number
  • around or out of this world
  • creature feature
  • when text just isn’t enough
  • thrills and chills
  • dynamic duos
  • sugar, spice, everything nice

The Audiobook Challenge is hosted by Hot Listens & Caffeinated Reviewer, and I figured it would be perfect because I listen to a ton of audiobooks at work! I don’t want to stress myself out over this one, so I’m aiming for Marathoner (50+ audiobooks).

Are you doing any reading challenges in 2020? Do we have any of the same goals? Let’s talk in the comments!

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