July Wrap-Up

July is over, and I’ve read a truly surprising amount! I think I can safely say that I’m now out of my minor reading slump (hopefully for good!). In all, I managed to read 9 novels, and two short stories last month, and although there were a couple of duds in the mix, most of them were really enjoyable! 😀 Here’s what I thought of them:

Melissa Marr//Ink ExchangeInk Exchange by Melissa Marr. The follow up to Wicked Lovely, which I enjoyed but didn’t think was particularly wonderful. In fact, I mainly read that book because I thought this one sounded interesting when I stumbled across a second-hand copy at work. 😉 Luckily, my book-sense has yet to lead me astray; Ink Exchange was a big improvement on its predecessor. The story follows Aislinn’s friend Leslie, who is struggling to deal with her often-absent father and her abusive brother, and – the cherry on top – catches the eye of Irial, King of the Dark Court of Faerie. Naturally, the plot of this book was a lot darker and more serious, but I also felt that the main characters were much more relatable and enjoyable to read than Aislinn & Keenan were. The love triangle in this book, too, was a lot more palatable than the one in Wicked Lovely, since (despite the less-than-altruistic reasons for Irial’s interest in Leslie) there seemed to be a lot more genuine affection between the three of them; right up to the end, I had no idea who Leslie would decide to be with (if anyone).4 starsPatrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent ThingsThe Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. A novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe, which follows Auri about her strange, everyday life. This story seems to have sparked a lot of controversy with Rothfuss’ fans – they either love it or hate it – but I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed it! Not much happens in the story, there’s no dialogue whatsoever, and Auri is the only character who appears, but I loved the atmosphere that Rothfuss was able to create, and the insight into Auri’s mind (and I suspect that she is much cleverer than she appears to be), and how the inanimate objects around Auri really seemed like living, feeling things.4 starsKitty Aldridge//A Trick I Learned from Dead MenA Trick I Learned from Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge. A short-ish novel that follows a young man who’s training as an undertaker while supporting his deaf brother and depressed stepfather. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for July, so I have a mini-review of it up already. 🙂2 starsSimone Elkeles//Perfect ChemistryPerfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. A romance between a teenager called Brittany who – due to some problems at home – feels the need to always be seen as perfect, and Alex, a classmate of hers from a dangerous part of town, who joined a gang in order to get protection for his family. I downloaded this mostly on a whim, and regretted it a bit afterwards, since I’ve heard very mixed things about the series, but I actually really enjoyed it. Sure, it’s incredibly cheesy in places, and there were bits of Alex and Brittany’s dialogue that came across as laughably unrealistic, and there was a 23-years-later epilogue that really annoyed me (as unnecessary last-minute flash-forwards always do)… but it was also a lot of fun to read, and pretty well-written. I don’t know if I’m likely to pick up the rest of the series, but I don’t regret reading this one, at least.3 stars

Before I could finish anything else, Booktubeathon came along! I managed to read a grand total of five books over the course of the readathon (which is pretty good, if I do say so myself, especially considering how busy I was that week), all of which I’ve written mini-reviews for – you can read them by clicking on the covers:

Junot Díaz//The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Franny Billingsley//The Folk Keeper Sabaa Tahir//An Ember in the Ashes Brandon Sanderson//Perfect State Bram Stoker//Dracula

Neil Gaiman//NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A fantastic novel about a man who, after finding an injured young woman on the side of the road and deciding to help her, gets dragged into the mysterious world of London Below, where people end up when they fall through the cracks of society. In an effort to reclaim his life, he ends up going on an adventure with Door (the aforementioned young woman), who’s trying to solve the mystery of her family’s murder. I loved absolutely everything about this book: The memorable characters, the beautiful writing, the whole world of London Below (which was incredibly bizarre, but also managed to make an odd sort of sense). The way that the story progressed was quite similar to Stardust, and I therefore found the ending a little predictable, but I was so enchanted that I didn’t even mind.5 stars

Abbi Glines//Until Friday NightUntil Friday Night by Abbi Glines. The first book in The Field Party series, which is a romance between a football player called West, who’s struggling to deal with his father’s cancer, and a girl called Maggie, who hasn’t spoken since her mother died. I’ve written a full review of this book, where you can read all my (numerous) thoughts about the story and characters, etc. – you can find it here.2 stars

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Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (Spoiler-Free)

WICKED LOVELY3 stars

Melissa Marr//Wicked LovelySUMMARY

Wicked Lovely tells the story of a teenage girl called Aislinn, who has been able to see faeries for her whole life – a dangerous ability, as the faeries themselves aren’t fond of being seen by humans. She’s managed to keep it hidden so far by forcing herself to ignore them, but recently she’s noticed that she’s being followed by two powerful faeries: A corpse-like girl riding a wolf, and a beautiful yet sinister young man whom Aislinn can’t help but feel drawn to.

Wicked Lovely was Melissa Marr’s debut novel, and was first published in 2007. It is the first book in the Wicked Lovely series, in which there are five primary novels: Wicked Lovely (#1), Ink Exchange (#2), Fragile Eternity (#3), Radiant Shadows (#4), and Darkest Mercy (#5).

STORY [3/5]

The main plot of this book is a romantic one: Keenan is pursuing Aislinn (in the creepiest way he knows how), and it’s up to her (and her friend Seth) to figure out why, and how to get rid of him. That last part, you may have noticed, is not-so-standard in romances, and Aislinn’s disinterest in a relationship with Keenan – despite her attraction to him – persists throughout the novel, and is one of its more refreshing elements. The story’s resolution, as well, was unexpected and well-executed, but unfortunately what was in-between was a little bit messy.

Besides the romance, there’s also a significant political plotline, which revolves around the Faerie Courts, as almost the whole of Faerie has been taken over by the cruel Winter Queen, Beira, and her son, Keenan – who is the Summer King – needs to break the curse that’s been put on him if he ever wants to regain his full abilities and restore his Court to their traditional place in Faerie. This was another aspect of the story that I liked, but it was often swept under the rug in favour of the main romantic story-thread, and I think the story would have been improved if Beira’s villainy – and the presumably disastrous effects of her long rule – had been more evident during the parts of the book when she wasn’t an immediate threat.

CHARACTERS [4/5]

Aislinn is, of course, the main character, but I’m not entirely sure what I think of her. On the one hand, she’s a strong character who’s been through a lot, and the way she reacted to the situations that were thrown at her seemed very realistic. On the other hand, she was incredibly secretive, even when it was obvious that her secrets were hurting her situation more than helping it, and that got quite irritating sometimes. I’ve also been a little spoiled by Ink Exchange (which I really shouldn’t have read before finishing this review), which had a protagonist who was just better in every way…

Her two prospective love interests are Seth and Keenan, who proved to be pretty interesting. Seth I really liked, but he was a huge mystery. How does he know Aislinn? Why did his parents go away? What does he do (he’s around the same age as Aislinn, but he doesn’t seem to go to school, or have a job…)? He comes across as the kind of character you find in romance novels where devastatingly-attractive-bad-boy falls for good-girl-with-tragic-past and is redeemed/transformed by her love, or his love for her. Except that with Seth, the transformation happens off-screen, and is already over by the time the book starts, which is kind of anticlimactic.

Keenan, in contrast, seems like he should be a mysterious character – him being a Faerie King, and all – but just… isn’t. Instead, he’s somewhere in-between an unconvincing, stereotypically popular love interest and a not-particularly-threatening villain… I did enjoy the his warped relationship with his mother, the Winter Queen (during which he suddenly became the most sympathetic character in the book for a chapter or two), and the complexity of his feelings for Donia, and I also (usually) really liked him as an individual, but as a viable love interest for Aislinn, he just didn’t work.

… And speaking of Donia (which we weren’t, I know… but work with me here), she was probably the best thing about this book. She’s the Winter Girl, which means that she was once where Aislinn is now; being pursued by Keenan and unable to resist him, only to fail the test that would have made her his queen. So now she’s cursed, and she still loves him, but she also hates what he’s done to her, and how she’s now forced to be party to his doing the same thing to countless other girls. In short: She’s sympathetic, and complex, and really, really likeable, and a great friend to both Aislinn and Keenan, despite everything.

ROMANCE [3/5]

So, this is another YA book with a prominent love triangle, which I know a lot of people hate. I personally don’t always mind them, as long as they’re done well, but the love triangle in this book (between Keenan, Aislinn and Seth) is the kind that gets on my nerves. It’s completely unbalanced, and from the very beginning of the book, it was obvious who Aislinn would choose, which defeats the point of having a love triangle in the first place. However, I did like the way that Aislinn decided to make her choice, as it was very original, and really took me by surprise.

In regards to the specific pairs, I’ve already talked a little about my feelings on Aislinn/Keenan (unconvincing) and Keenan/Donia (heart-wrenching), but I should also mention that I did really like the relationship between Aislinn and Seth. There’s not a huge amount to say about it, since it’s relatively un-complicated, but I did think they made a very cute couple.

WORLD-BUILDING [3/5]

There’s not much for me to say about the world-building, as the story was almost entirely set in the real world, but I did like the way that Marr inserted faeries into everyday life: Them having their own club was a bit clichéd, but it was interesting how they seemed to be everywhere Aislinn went, living alongside humans, but unseen. I also liked the distinction that was made between the Dark Faeries and the Summer Faeries, and their behaviours, but it would’ve been nice to see a bit more of the Winter Court beyond Beira, Donia and a few traumatised pixies…

WRITING [3/5]

The writing was well-paced and very solid. I enjoyed how distinct the narrators’ voices were, and it did a good job of keeping me reading, even when I was tired, or knew I ought to be doing something else… otherwise, though, it was mostly unremarkable.

OVERALL IMPRESSION [3/5]

This review probably sounds quite negative, but I actually enjoyed reading this book a lot – it’s only in retrospect that I’ve picked so many holes in the story and characterisation… and a lot of the flaws are things that I’ve mainly picked up on because Ink Exchange (the sequel, which I’ve just finished reading) was so much better.

It definitely shows that this is a debut novel, but it’s got an interesting cast and premise, and the series seems to be picking up as it goes on, so I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the genre.

RECOMMENDED FOR…

Fans of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, or A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas. This series may also appeal to paranormal fans in general, though parts of the series (or at least Ink Exchange) have a slightly darker bent than Wicked Lovely.

June Wrap-Up

I’ve been pretty caught up with work (and Fire Emblem) lately, which is why I’ve fallen a bit behind on my blogging schedule… I am still reading, though! Not as much as I usually would be, but I managed to finish four books in June – and they were pretty good ones. 🙂 Here’s what I thought of them:

Lauren Nicolle Taylor//Nora & KettleNora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor. A re-imagining of Peter Pan, set just after World War II, in which Peter is actually a homeless Japanese-American teenager called Kettle, and Nora’s – Wendy’s – whole life is trying to protect her little sister from their abusive father. I absolutely loved this book, and read it in only a couple of sittings! There were a couple of places where the plot felt a little contrived, but not enough to really bother me, and the characters and writing were all wonderful, and I loved the way that Taylor drew on Peter Pan… I only wish there’d been more to read! This is also the first book in a new series, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting news of a sequel.4 stars

David Gaider//The CallingThe Calling by David Gaider. The second of the Dragon Age spin-off novels, which follows Maric several years after the events of The Stolen Throne, joining a group of Grey Wardens who need him to guide them through an area of the Deep Roads. Another really great book, which I actually enjoyed even more than The Stolen Throne – the writing is greatly improved, and the smaller time-scale of the story meant that there was a lot more room for character development. And speaking of characters, it was great to be back in Maric’s head, but I also really loved seeing Duncan (from Dragon Age: Origins) and Fiona (from Dragon Age: Inquisition) play such prominent roles!4 starsHelen Oyeyemi//Boy, Snow, BirdBoy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. An almost-retelling of Snow White set in 1950s America, and full of interesting (historical) social commentary, beautiful writing, and a heavy dose of magical realism. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for June, so you can read my review of it here! 🙂4 starsMelissa Marr//Wicked LovelyWicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. The first book in the Wicked Lovely series, which follows a group of friends who find themselves caught up in the sinister world of faeries. The first book is about Aislinn, who’s been able to see faeries for her whole life, and spent most of her life running from them… I was meaning to post a full review of this last week, but I’ve had a bit of a block – so look forward to seeing it in the next few days! ^^’3 stars

May Haul

May haulMay wasn’t too bad a month in terms of book-buying: I bought nine books overall (only eight are in the picture), five of which were part of a box-set, while the other four were second-hand, and therefore not too much of a strain on my wallet. 😉 That said, I am now on a book-buying ban until there’s some more free space on my TBR shelf – as it is, I have a 17-high pile of books in front of it that I need to either read or make room for ASAP. ^^’

1) Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. The first book in the Wicked Lovely series… I bought the second book in April, not realising that it was a sequel, so of course I had to go online and seek out (a matching edition of) this one straight away! 😛 I’m hoping to read this soon, so I can move on to Ink Exchange, which actually appeals to me a bit more.

2) The Singing by Alison Croggon. The fourth book in the Books of Pellinor series, most of which I bought second-hand a while ago, but haven’t touched yet. I believe I now have the whole series (except for the recent prequel), so I’ll probably be marathoning these at some point.

3) A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond. One of the more recent novels from the author of two of my favourite books – Heaven Eyes and Skellig. I’ve had my eye on this book for a while, and was debating whether or not to buy it new, so when it showed up at the second-hand bookshop where I work (looking almost like new), I took it as a sign. 😉

4) Dune by Frank Herbert. The first book in the Dune series, which is a sci-fi epic. I’ve actually been listening to (and really enjoying) this as an audiobook, but I always find it difficult to remember names if I don’t know how to spell them, so of course I needed to look at the book, too. Surprisingly, my library didn’t have a copy ( ❓ ), but I managed to pick up this (incredibly battered) edition pretty cheaply.

5) The Stolen Throne, The Calling & Asunder by David GaiderLast Flight by Liane MercielThe Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes. The whole collection of Dragon Age spin-off novels, which I bought as a box-set from Amazon mainly so that I would get free postage for Wicked Lovely… but also because I really, really wanted to read them. (You thought you’d heard the end of my Dragon Age ramblings, didn’t you? No such luck! I am still obsessed! 😈 ) The Stolen Throne is the one that’s missing from the photo, as I’ve forced my cousin to borrow it, and I’m currently reading The Calling, which is (so far) even better than The Stolen Throne!

April Haul

You remember what I’ve been saying for the last couple of months, about how impressed I’ve been by my self-control? Well… so much for that! 😳 I went a little crazy last month – all but one of these (fifteen!) books was bought on impulse, and while I’ve read a few of them already (and really enjoyed them), it’s still a little embarrassing to see them all together like this… Does this mean that book hauls might be good for me?! Shock therapy, maybe? 😉 But regardless, here’s what I bought in April:

April haul 20161) Half Lost by Sally Green. The final book in the Half Life trilogy, which I’ve absolutely loved – and this conclusion was well worth the wait! I still didn’t like it quite as much as Half Wild (the second book in the series), but it wrapped up the series really well… and kind of broke my heart. 😥

2) The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. The first book in the Lady Helen series, which is set in Regency London, and is about hunting demons! (Some of my favourite things! It’s almost like it was written specifically for me! 😉 ) I’ve already read this one, too, and you can read my full review here!

3) Across the Universe by Beth Revis. The first book in the Across the Universe series, which is a space opera, I believe… I don’t actually know much about this book, but I’ve heard that it’s very good, and I’ve been dying to read it for quite a while… It’ll happen soon, I hope.

4) The Melancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Sigh of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Boredom of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Disappearance of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Rampage of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Wavering of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Indignation of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya & The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa. The entire, ten-book Haruhi Suzumiya series, which is best known in the West for its anime adaptation, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The series follows a high schooler called Kyon, who gets dragged by chance into the chaotic world of his classmate Haruhi, who has (unbeknownst to her) the power to destroy the world if she ever gets tired of it… These books are pretty wacky, but I’ve read the first one already, and they’re also a lot of fun. 🙂

5) Starflight by Melissa Landers. A space adventure following a teenage girl making her way to the outskirts of the known galaxy in order to get a better chance of finding a job, and the former classmate she runs into who hires her as his indentured servant for the duration of the trip, in return for the price of her ticket – but for not-so-noble purposes. Another book that I read almost as soon as I brought it home, and that I really loved. 😀 My book-sense was really on-the-mark in April!

6) Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr. Lastly, I also picked up the second book in the Wicked Lovely series (though I didn’t realise that it was part of a series at the time), mostly because it’d been sitting on the shelf at the second-hand bookshop where I work for several weeks, and it was making me sad that no-one else had bought it… ^^’ This is a paranormal romance series about fairies, I believe, but the summary sounds intriguingly dark. I’m looking forward to reading this soon, hopefully (but first I need to pick up Wicked Lovely…).