Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa MarrWicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #1
Published by HarperTeen
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty-especially if they learn of her Sight-and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. His is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost-regardless of her plans or desires. Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; everything.

Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.

Thoughts: Wicked Lovely was, without a doubt, one of the most unique YA books I have read. First of all, there’s the universe. I was a bit nervous about the idea of faeries and was pleasantly surprised. Marr does not gloss over any of the horrors commited by faeries in traditional texts, and even encourages them by beginning each chapter with a quote about faery exploits. It was all appropriately horrific and enchanting.

Then there is the romance. Marr breaks the soul-mate stereotype I usually read in YA, and instead allows the people you love to be the ones you choose. Just because someone is destined to be the love of your life does not mean they are going to be!

Something else I appreciated was the realism of the (non-explicit) sex scenes. It is reassuring to read about a character – with an interesting sexual history – getting tested for STDs and waiting 6 months to ensure their accuracy. Perhaps that doesn’t sound romantic, but it was an absolutely heart-stealing scene.

Bottom line? Excellent read for young adults and adults alike – and a must it you are a fantasy fan!

Review: Hearts at Stake (aka My Love Lies Bleeding) by Alyxandra Harvey

Review: Hearts at Stake (aka My Love Lies Bleeding) by Alyxandra HarveyHearts at Stake (aka My Love Lies Bleeding) by Alyxandra Harvey
Series: The Drake Chronicles #1
Published by Bloomsbury, Walker Books for Young Readers
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.

Thoughts: Hearts at Stake is a fun debut novel but don’t set the bar too high when you pick it up. The action was entertaining, but not all that memorable. Plot turns and twist were all over the place, and kinda hard to follow. The world building consisted of tell-and-no-show. And as for the romance, well, both pairings fell flat.

But it was still an entertaining read! Harvey has a tongue-in-cheek style that I enjoyed – and we have to give her serious credit for creating the most violent vegetarian (Lucy) I have ever read! I also loved the relationship between the two narrators: best friends, Lucy and Solange. They are fiercely protective of each other, but extremely different. They work very well together, as whatever one of them lacks the other makes up for. It was a lovely dynamic!

It was released in the US with the cover/title you see before you… but in the UK they decided to rename it to My Love Lies Bleeding and gave it a Twilightesque cover. Usually I like the changes made by UK publishers, but not this time.

Hearts at Stake is a light-hearted, funny read. So although there is a lot of life-threatening violence… it is light-hearted violence! (If that makes any sense.) So, if you can, try to get a US copy (I got mine from Fobidden Planet in London) so that the content matches the cover!

Bottom line? This was a fun, light-hearted read – but I was not particularly in love. Pick it up if you are looking for a fast-and-fun read! The next book in the series, Blood Feud, is out in July.

Review – The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
BookDepository / Amazon / Amazon UK
LibraryThing / Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Pages: 192

Summary: What’s your drink of choice?Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy.Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life.Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie.

Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte.

With overtones of Jane Austen’s Emma and brimming with humor and heart, this sweet, frothy debut will be savored by readers.

Thoughts: I adored The Espressologist! It is a modern-day fairytale: enchanting, funny and caffinated!

Everything I love about coffee shops is in this book! The drinks, the environment, and the perky staff. Although I have to say, reading it in Starbucks made it even more enjoyable. Short and sweet, I finished it in a single day.

Jane was a breath of fresh air as a narrator – and I felt the style was very much like my own. I swear this is just a book I forgot to write! The only thing I wish had been more developed was the love interest Cam – who I never really, er, got. Had I liked him even a little bit more, this could easily have been a 5 star book. It was honestly that enjoyable!

The hardback edition – which is currently the only one out – has an adorable coffee stain circle etched into it.  And how much more adorable could that cover possibly get?  ♥

Bottom line? A wonderful, escapist read for coffee-lovers of all ages. Especially if you need a little reality to cleanse your palate between all the fantasy YA in the market!

Review: Firespell by Chloe Neill

Review: Firespell by Chloe NeillFirespell by Chloe Neill
Series: Dark Elite #1
Published by Penguin on 2010-01-05
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
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Also in this series: Hexbound

New Girl. New School. Old Evil. From the author of the Chicagoland Vampires novels. A new series about a boarding school filled with something worse than homework. Lily's parents have sent her to a fancy boarding school in Chicago filled with the ultra-rich. If that wasn't bad enough, she's hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophie's creepy campus. Her roommate, Scout, keeps her sane, but keeps disappearing at night. When one day Lily finds Scout running from real-life monsters, she learns the hard way that Scout is involved in a splinter group of rebel teens. They protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and dark magic users. It's too bad Lily doesn't have powers of her own to help. At least, none that she's discovered yet...

Thoughts: Wow!

I picked up Firespell for the Debut YA Author Challenge – and boy am I glad I did! I had heard of Chloe Neill’s Adult Series, but nothing about them seemed to pique my interest. So I thought I’d test out her YA debut before I dove into the Chicagoland books.

Unlike a lot of YA out there right now, Firespell is based more around Lily and her new universe – rather than around her relationship with a boy. Although there is certainly a love interest  (and I think I am right in foreseeing a future love triangle), her relationships with her BFF Scout and her absent parents take center stage.

Although I loved the universe and whatnot, what stole the show for me was Lily.  She is insanely awesome – a sarcastic, sensitive, vegetarian, fashionista. If people call her a weirdo, she’ll just role her eyes and make some fabulously insightful comment. And her banter with Scout made me laugh out loud countless times!

Scout was another great character – a punky, funny, wanna-be-politician.  She talks tough but is an amazing softie. Lily and Scout make the perfect duo.

But gosh, there are so many mysteries left by the end of the book. And although we get a nicely wrapped up ending – no cliffhangers here – there are still so many things I want to know! I cannot wait for the next book… and the book after that…. and the book after that…

Bottom line?  This book is a must for all readers! Especially if you liked Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires Series! (BTW, anyone who compares it to the HoN series is out of their mind – completely different!)

Review – Lord of Misrule (Morganville Vampires, Book 5) by Rachel Caine

Lord of Misrule (Morganville Vampires, Book 5) by Rachel Caine
Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bookdepository / LibraryThing / Goodreads

Rating: 4/5 stars
Pages: 256

SPOILERS for previous books!

Summary: In the college town of Morganville, vampires and humans coexist in (relatively) bloodless harmony. Then comes Bishop, the master vampire who threatens to abolish all order, revive the forces of the evil dead, and let chaos rule. But Bishop isn’t the only threat.

Violent black cyclone clouds hover, promising a storm of devastating proportions as student Claire Danvers and her friends prepare to defend Morganville against elements both natural and unnatural.

Thoughts:  Lord of Misrule turns the entire Morganville series on its head – if you ever have to skip a book, make sure it isn’t this one! The relative comfort our characters used to live in has gone, and has been replaced with a war in the trenches. Any action that I might have felt was missing in Feast of Fools is made up for in Lord of Misrule – I gave up counting the life-or-death situations by page 30.

The action turns the entire town around, and the change brings out the hardness in all the characters – including Claire. I’d call some of her actions fierce, but I’d just be paraphrasing Eve (honestly, they are that fierce). I’d say Shane gets the biggest shake-up, character-wise. He had a lot of explaining to do in this book and, unsurprisingly, talking it out really helped with his new enlightenment.

Make sure you have a copy of Carpe Corpus on hand, because Lord of Misrule has the most jaw-dropping cliffhanger yet. And given Caine’s usual modus operandi, that is saying something!

Bottom Line?  You NEED to read this series!

Review – The Taste of Night (Sign of the Zodiac, Book 2) by Vicki Pettersson

The Taste of Night (Sign of the Zodiac, Book 2) by Vicki Pettersson

Bookdepository / Amazon US / Amazon UK / LibraryThing / Goodreads

Rating: 3/5 stars
Pages: 440

Vague Spoilers for the first book!

Summary: Equal parts Light and Shadow, Joanna Archer must fulfill a destiny she never wanted. Once a photographer and heiress to a casino fortune, she is now dedicated to the cause of good . . . but susceptible to the seductions of evil.

A deadly virus is descending on Las Vegas—a terrifying plague unleashed by the powerful overlord of Zodiac’s dark side: Joanna’s father. Chaos and panic grip Sin City as agents of Light fall prey to the terrifying epidemic. Death reigns supreme—and Joanna stands at dead center of an epic and terrible war long foretold, the last hope of a damned world.

But first she must somehow conquer the malevolence that grows all around her . . . and within.

Thoughts: Ok , I’ll admit it. Maybe I was just expecting too much after The Scent of Shadows. Because even though I know this was a well-written, cleverly plotted book – I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Before I get into why, I just want to reiterate that this is an amazing series. Vicki Pettersson has created a genuinely unique universe in an already saturated market. I guess these next comments could be considered the nit-picking of a fan.

My trouble was with the main character, Jo. While I had quite enjoyed her scary-yet-vulnerable character in the first novel, she looses all sense in The Taste of Night. She goes back and forth from rational to reactionary. The plot required conflict within the Light Troup, which lead to Jo needing a massive personality overhaul for half the book. It really felt forced – a change contrived solely to fit the action – and was inevitably disappointing.

One thing that I absolutely loved in this book, however, was Hunter. Pettersson took the tension between him and Jo – noticeable from the very first time they beat the crap out of each other – and really rolled with it. Although he was a relatively prominent character in the first book, I hadn’t felt too strongly either way about his involvement in the story. In The Taste of Night, he became the sole voice of reason and logic, piercing through Jo’s muddled narration. That alone had me wanting to jump into his unfortunately fictional arms.

So, considering that, Jo’s continued infatuation with Ben Traina is pretty friggin annoying. He is made out to be the love of her life, when all they had together was a few months as teens. I mean, really? That, along with an annoying revelation towards the end, made this a book I am never going to re-read. There were actual chapters that made my eyes glaze over – no doubt in the vain hope that when I refocused, the page would have magically altered. Which is kinda depressing, when I think about it.

Bottom line?  I wish I could tell you to skip it, but you’d be missing out on a great universe.  Hopefully The Touch of Twilight will return the series to its former glory…

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