Wicked King was SO COOL!

wicked kingOh wow it was great to be back in this world and with these characters. Jude was a *total* badass in this book; Cardan had even more swagger than in Cruel Prince. And her fractious relationship with Cardan was *everything*! There was so much tension between them and that rippled out into the rest of the narrative. I was completely won over by their romance in this book- forgive me if I squeal, cos I am on this ship!!

There were lots of antagonists as well- which didn’t hurt 😉 Tarryn, in particular, was still a self-centred biatch- who openly says that she sees herself as a hero- so good to know nothing’s changed (also called it).

What was really fab though was the way Black expanded the world building in this story. I *loved* the use of the Undersea and its impact on the plot left me gasping. Plus, *hello Severin of Fairfield*- yes, I spotted you there, straight out of The Darkest Part of the Forest (I may have died when Black got all self-referential there 😉)

And, of course, like its predecessor, Wicked King was addictive and impossible to put down (so yeah, blame my lack of notes for the fact this review is a little watered down 😉). I will say that the pace in the first half was a bit slower, however it certainly picked up and the last hundred pages were a whirlwind of emotions. There was a veritable tsunami of *machinations* and *political intrigue*. I am curious- nay, DESPERATE- to see where it goes! I want book 3, like, yesterday!

4½/5 bananas

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And since it’s such chaos in the faerie realm right now, I’ve decided to do everyone a favour and crown myself queen:

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So have you read any of the books in this series? Do you plan to? Did you love them as much as I did? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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Discovering the Heart of the Lost Sisters

the lost sistersSo I wasn’t planning on giving a novella a full review… but *WOW* this packs quite the punch and has more than enough depth to warrant as much attention as I can give it. There are going to be vague spoilers for Cruel Princeso watch out if you still plan to read it.

Why was this so brilliant? Well, because it was completely unexpected. I was thinking this was going to be a simple short story that explained the actions of Tarryn and humanised her a little after her decisions in Cruel Prince. It’s not that at all. If you’re looking for a great explanation that redeems this character… sorry, you won’t find it. In fact, I think it’s actually been miss-marketed in that regard. This isn’t the story of how a heroine went astray- this is a villain origin story.

Right away, we’re plunged into Tarryn’s unapologetic apology. In a thoroughly unsympathetic tone, she reveals why and how she betrayed her sister- time and time again. If nothing else, I was impressed straight away by how distinct and persuasive the voice was. It was a subtle portrayal of a character and really opened a window into her mind. Whether you take her side or not, you’re going to have to admit she’s a very lifelike figure.

For me, this was a great twist on the YA trope of having the heroine do terrible things, but somehow get away with it cos *THEY’RE THE GOOD ONE*. It deals with the holier than thou attitude a lot of YA heroines have and twists it on its head. For me, this undermined that trope completely. The funny thing is Tarryn genuinely believes she’s the heroine in a fairy tale.

In fact, it’s because she views everything as a story that she thinks she can get away with whatever cruelties she commits. She doesn’t actually see how she’s done anything wrong and thinks she’s deserving of forgiveness just because. It’s a really twisted take on what it means to be a heroine and how someone might go down a wicked path.

Thus it perfectly embodies the idea that the villain is the hero of their own story. For all this tale’s simplicity, it’s actually a remarkable view into the human psyche. No, this doesn’t deliver anything new, but it’s quite the journey anyway. And yes, this is only a novella, nonetheless it’s also an ingenious twist on the YA genre and rather a pleasant surprise I might add. Sure, it doesn’t “save” the character’s reputation- and I won’t be expecting her to improve in Wicked King– however it is an excellent character study and is brilliantly executed:

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? And have you read any novellas recently that have blown you away? Let me know in the comments!

The Cruel Prince was SAVAGE

cruel princeAs hyped as this book was, when this came out, Cruel Prince garnered its fair share of criticism. Naturally I had my reservations about picking it up after that… mercifully though I needn’t have worried- it ended up being wonderful. Well, as wonderful as a twisted YA fantasy can be- if that’s your cup of tea (and it so is mine).

From the get-go, I loved the premise: three sisters kidnapped by their parents’ murderers and taken into Faerie- YES PLEASE! I was utterly absorbed by the sharp world building and even more so by the plot.

While the story falls into a little lull immediately after the opening, don’t be fooled, it gets faster and far more deadly than I expected. Half my notes were just exclamation marks, because as much as I thought I could tell where it was going, it kept taking me by surprise! And every time I thought I had a handle on it- BAM- it span round and stabbed me in the gut. Really, the plot gets better and better.

What’s especially clever about this is how the foreshadowing and hints are such that they could be applied in multiple directions. I was even left questioning wait who is the cruel prince? Cos, let me tell you, there are several possible candidates in these pages.

Speaking of the characters, there are a great range of messed up and fabulous here to choose from. Some that you’ll inevitably root for and some you might want to get a bit stabby over- all of whom are interesting. For me, the main character was a gem- I cackled with pleasure at her tricksy ways and found she won my affection with both her skill with a sword and her even more deadly intellect. I probably loved Vivi even more if I’m honest- she was always trying to do the right thing and was probably the best human being in this (hehe ironic). And while I know there are a lot of people that hate Cardan- sorry, I’m on that runaway train 😉 For me, it’s quite simple- I found myself sympathising with him- reluctantly at first and then oopsie-daisy-we’re-headed-off-a-cliff. However, I did not like Tarryn- she sucked. I’ve been told she redeems herself in the novella Lost Sisters– which I have on my kindle- but don’t hold out much hope. That said, I liked how Black dealt with the issues of betrayal- even if I thought the other party was fairly obviously a backstabber (I mean, fox imagery is a dead giveaway).

Also, the writing was very well done. The main character’s voice is engaging and full of personality. I adored the descriptions, the humour and its quotability. In fact, I did that thing in my kindle copy where more of it is highlighted than not, so I can’t find any specific examples without rereading the whole book 😉

The only real downside for me was that I wasn’t head over heels for the romance (even if I liked both parties). I mean, it made sense and was logical- I didn’t quite feel the fireworks. Other than that, I thought it was an excellent read:

4½5 bananas

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Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

6 Book Recommendations From 6 Months of Reading Non-Stop!

Happy Friday!!! (Anyone else feel like doing a happy dance now that the weekend is here?) After my Mid-Year Book Tag post last week, I realised there are a fair number of books I’ve enjoyed this year that I haven’t reviewed or mentioned on my blog yet. Now, some of those I still plan to review (*hides face with shame at how disorganised I am*) but for those I know I won’t go into depth about, I feel like it would be unfair to the books if I don’t give them a proper mention. Especially since I gave all of these books 4* or more. So here are 6 book recommendations for the 6 months of the year that have now been and gone!

'Me_Before_You'1- Me Before You– I finished this wittily written, tightly wound wonder of a book really recently. This book hits you right in the gut and is sure to either make you cry or wondering what is wrong with your tearducts if you don’t. I really recommend giving it a go.

 

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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feet of clay2- Feet of Clay– let’s be honest, I don’t review or mention Terry Pratchett books often enough- and that is a terrible shame on me! But rest assured- I still love Pratchett and I’m looking to rectify that huge fault of mine by mentioning it right now. And just for the record- this one was up there as one of the best Pratchett books I’ve ever read! (so far!)

 

Rating 4½/5 bananas

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black maria3- Black Maria– here’s another author that I don’t mention off enough. I *adore* Diana Wynn Jones and I feel like I don’t mention often enough. I love the Chrestomanci series and so I’ve been reading more of that, but I particularly enjoyed this standalone!

 

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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witch's daughter4- The Witch’s Daughter– I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastical take on historical fiction- and that’s coming from someone that doesn’t often like historical fiction. I can’t say it’s an especially challenging or trying read, but it was fun, quick and worth picking up. I’m definitely gonna continue with this series.

 

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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five people you meet in heaven5- The Five People You Meet In Heaven– here’s another one I can happily recommend. Surprisingly for the subject matter, this is a very light read and didn’t give me too much trouble in the emotional department. That being said, it was well written and managed to be highly enjoyable and life affirming. Give it a try and let me know what you think- I’d be interested to see your reaction to it!

 

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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darkest part of the forest6- The Darkest Part of the Forest– I’m going to finish off with this rather splendid standalone. This is an exquisitely woven, dark take on modern fairy tales! It is only the second book I’ve read by Holly Black, but I have to say, I’ve come away satisfied every time. I love her unique storytelling style and I find I really connect with her characters. After this one, I’m very keen to read more of her work.

 

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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And that’s everything for now- have you read these books? Did you enjoy them? Do you fancy picking any of them up? Let me know in the comments!