Top 10 Favourite Reads of 2018

No, it’s not Tuesday but with the end of the year finally here, it’s time to start wrapping up on all the books I read in 2018. For this reason, here I am, counting down my favourite reads of the year. I am terrible when it comes to comparing and ranking things which is why my top tens are never ordered. Yet, this time around I’m actually going to try and do a proper countdown all the way up to my favourite read of the year. Can you hear me hyperventilating already? The pressure is intense, man. PANIC. To put it into perspective, I’ve read 89 books this year (I’m going to try my best to crack the big 9-0 before the year ends *crosses fingers & toes*) and have to pick TEN. JUST TEN.

So, here they are, in order, my 10 favourite reads of 2018:

10. THE CRUEL PRINCE – HOLLY BLACK | Review

34913691Let’s kick things off with a majorly hyped book. The Cruel Prince has some big flaws – lacking world building, slow pacing for the first half of the novel, a lot of unlikeable or eh characters, and am I completely addicted anyway for some inexplicable reason? Oh…..yes. The backstabbing, murder, political machinations, toxic romance, shades of grey characters, dark and twisty writing – I’m kind of in love with it all in an almost guilty pleasure kind of way. The second half of this book and especially the ending is just so addictive and exciting that I’m practically itching to get my hands on The Wicked King. It’s my most anticipated 2019 release, easy.

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9. The HATE U GIVE – ANGIE THOMAS | Review

34530151A lot of people are going to wonder why this one is so low on my list so let me explain. The Hate U Give is fantastic. No, really, the fact that this is an author debut is insane. It’s wonderfully written, the characters are rich and very well developed, and the story itself is topical, emotional and impactful. I admire THUG for all of these reasons and recommend that everyone read it at least once to better understand privilege, racism, and the importance of standing up for what is right. However, at the same time, it’s not something I would ever see myself re-reading or a book I could say I “loved” or was completely transfixed by, which is why it sits at number nine.

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8. TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE – JENNY HAN | Review

21028311This is another hyped up and somewhat flawed read which for some reason I couldn’t help gobbling up like an all-you-can-eat buffet complete with a chocolate fountain at the dessert table. To All the Boys is the fluffy, adorable, and sweet YA contemporary I didn’t even know I needed that would be able to make me smile even on an absolutely terrible day. Sure, it’s predictable, the plot is a little silly, and the ending is incomplete (to put it mildly), but it’s not meant to be a heavy read and I had such a wonderful time reading it that I immediately tracked down and read books two and three. Also, the fact that it features a mixed race protagonist is great. Basically just LJ x Peter K forever.

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7. WARCROSS – MARIE LU

36160193Warcross was my very first introduction to Marie Lu and what a fabulous one at that. I raced through this book like crazy, ridiculously keen for answers to all the story’s big plot questions. The warcross matches themselves were so much fun and a feast for the imagination – it’s basically virtual reality capture the flag on speed. The characters in Warcross were also really well done too, especially the MC, Emika, who became one of my favourite characters of 2018 (well, if we ignore Wildcard *cough*). She’s smart, talented, and pretty kick ass. I may not have been that keen on one of the major twists of the book but that didn’t stop me desperately craving book two the minute I finished it. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Marie’s books in future after the fun time I had with this one.

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6. SADIE – COURTNEY SUMMERS | Review

34810320Sadie was not a light read by any means – murder, child sexual abuse, loss, poverty – but from the get go I was hooked. There’s just something about this dark, little book which grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The writing and pacing are so perfectly done with the divide between first person and podcast transcripts. Sadie, herself, was both strong and vulnerable, and I wanted nothing more than to protect her from the world’s evils on her journey toward revenge. The ending of this one will be gnawing at me for a long time to come.

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5. THE SONG OF ACHILLES – MADELINE MILLER | Review

Image result for the song of achillesI’d heard amazing things about this book for ages before finally reading it, and people weren’t wrong. This was the book that reminded me just how much I love history. It’s the perfect blend of mythology, magic, war, romance, and emotional trauma wrapped up in one innocent looking, book shaped package. Miller’s attention to detail is phenomenal and blended with her straightforward writing style, immerses you without ever feeling overwhelming. The characters are beautifully developed, both good and bad, and even though the story is an old one, Miller tells it in an emotional and impactful way that really does manage to hit you hard in the feels. The perfect reminder that I need to branch outside of YA more often.

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4. SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA – BECKY ALBERTALLI | Review

19547856As if this wouldn’t make the list. It feels like so long ago that I read Simon. I mean, it kind of is a long time ago as it was one of the first books I read in 2018. At the time, Simon was the latest in my attempts to branch into the YA contemporary genre and it’s probably what encouraged me to read so many of these kinds of books this year. This book made me feel so happy, so good about the world at the end of it, that I just couldn’t wait to write a review. Honestly, I believe Simon could win over even the most cynical of readers. There’s great LGBTI representation, the writing itself is actually laugh out loud (or in my case, snort) funny, and it really does take you on an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs. If you’re in a reading slump, this is the novel cure for you.

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3. SCYTHE – NEAL SHUSTERMAN | Review

Image result for scythe neal shustermanI waited ages to get my hands on this book, meaning the expectations were very high because of all the positive reviews I’d seen during that period. To my relief, it wasn’t a let down in the slightest, mostly because Shusterman’s world is wonderfully original and fantastically constructed. I sucked up every detail like a ginormous sponge. The concept is compelling, a little crazy, somewhat terrifying, and perfectly executed even with the slower pace of the plot. The characters themselves are likeable and layered, and I really enjoyed reading through their arcs.  Also, a big plus, the romantic subplots are properly developed and don’t take over the main storyline. Simply put, I loved this book (and the sequel, too!).

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2. GOLDEN SON & MORNING STAR (RED RISING 2# & 3#) – PIERCE BROWN | Review

umqxjlfoedq7lj67v7w0Yes, this is two books but both of them have to be on this list and I feel weird about giving them separate slots so here they are, bundled together. This series gave me serious life at the start of 2018. My god, this is sci-fi at its best. I don’t even know where to start. Once they got going, and they really, really do, I could barely put them down until I finished. The story is so full of action, twists and turns, and backstabbing/plotting, it’s phenomenal. The characters are memorable, complex, have a wonderful dynamic, and when things go wrong for them, it really plays with your emotions. The other star of this series is Brown’s world building, or should I say ‘universe building’, which is just so damn good. The scale of it all is crazy. I will definitely be rereading these at some point.

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And that brings us to my final pick of the year, my favourite read, which was…

….

Are you ready?

1. THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO – TAYLOR JENKINS REID | Review

33160963Ta dah! Evelyn Hugo is my number one read for 2018. Not that it should be a big surprise to anyone who’s read my review. I knew this book would be magic from the very beginning. I just had that feeling, you know the one, and I was right. Honestly guys, I love this book. Adore it. It’s actually joined The Time Traveller’s Wife as one of my favourite books of all time. The characters in this story are so real and multifaceted, the love and care Reid gives them simply jumps off the page. This is especially so for Evelyn, herself, with all her imperfections. The LBGTI representation is fantastic, particularly with regards to the historical context. Honestly, I could sit here forever and talk about all the reasons I love this book and we wouldn’t even scrape the surface. The writing, structure, heartbreaking romance, old Hollywood setting, ah! It’s so good. Read it, read it, read it.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS:

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*Exhales* Made it! That wasn’t so hard was it? I’m kidding. That was agony. I’ll probably think about this list for the next week agonising about what I coulda, shoulda, woulda done. But hey, sometimes you just have to pick and stick with it.

What were your favourite reads of 2018? And what’s the last book you plan to read for the year?

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far)

This week’s top ten Tuesday topic is a list of your favourite reads of 2018 so far. I touched on this briefly when I did the mid-year freak out tag a few weeks ago but since it’s always fun talking about fantastic books, I thought, why not expand on it here. Creating this list was really tough in places because I’ve read some great books this year. If you were to ask me the same question again tomorrow, I’m likely to have changed the list by then, it’s just that hard. I’m so indecisive – did I like this book better than this book? Oh, but I rated this book higher, but then I read this one super quick, it’s just crazy. So here are the ten I’ve come up with for today. The books are listed in order of the date I read them (because who wants the grief of trying to rank them, heaven forbid)


1

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli)

★★★★★

I feel like I’ve raved about this one enough for you guys to know how much I enjoyed it. Like I said in my review, it’s better than Oreos – sweet, funny, emotional, and uplifting, this is the definition of a good YA contemporary.

Review here.


2

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A Torch Against the Night (Sabaa Tahir)

★★★★

It’s always a nice thing when books avoid sequel suckage syndrome. This was a great adventure. I love both Helene and Elias so it’s was really interesting watching them play cat and mouse across the country. The prison scenes were also extremely entertaining and the book ended in a place that left me super excited to read A Reaper at the Gates.


3

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The Cruel Prince (Holly Black)

★★★★

I’ve never been a huge fan of fairy books, with a few exceptions, but it’s books like this that have started to change my mind of late. Yes, the world building is a little lacking and some of the plot is on the slow side but I had a great time reading this one. The characters are morally ambiguous, there’s scheming and backstabbing, and the ending is fabulously dramatic. I can’t wait for The Wicked King.

Review here.


4

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Red Rising Series (Pierce Brown)

★★★★★

Yes, this is three books so I’m cheating but 1) they were all excellent and 2) I didn’t want a third of this list to just be RR books. I loved this series. LOVED. Well written characters, epic action scenes, dramatic twists, amazing world building, and some intense emotional moments, what more do you want? Also, unlike some other series, it finishes even stronger than it begins. Definitely would recommend to sci-fi fans!

Series review here.


5

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Call Me By Your Name (Andre Aciman)

★★★★

This book was such a change of pace for me. I picked it up after falling in love with the film and the novel is just as magical. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the book itself is just heartbreaking but so, so worth it.


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Warcross (Marie Lu)

★★★★.5

This was my first experience with Marie Lu and it was wonderful! The Warcross matches themselves were so much fun and Emilka was a strong, smart and well developed MC. The plot twist at the end is predictable but still enjoyable because of the direction it takes the story. The sequel, Wildcard, is one of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2018.


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Scythe (Neal Shusterman)

★★★★★

I had to wait for ages to get this book in Australia but it was worth it. The world is unique and extremely well constructed, the book deals with some big questions about morality, power, and life itself, and the characters are complex but likeable. The plot will be a bit slow for some people but I enjoyed it immensely!

Review here.


8

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Leah on the Offbeat (Becky Albertalli)

★★★★.5

I’ve had a good year so far with Becky Albertalli books. Leah was one of my least favourite characters in Simon but after this book, I gained such a new appreciation for her. She has her stubborn moments but she’s also super relatable and I loved the development of her relationship with Abby. Plus I got to spend some more time with the other adorable Simon characters. Winner!


9

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The Last Olympian (Rick Riordan)

★★★★.5

Up until this book I’d had fun reading the Percy Jackson series but I had yet to reach a book where I was genuinely super keen to find out how it would end. That was this book for me. The plot was exciting and actually felt like it’d have a lasting impact on the world of the books instead of just being Percy and co’s latest adventure. I loved that the stakes felt real and there was a chance for characters to showcase true bravery. It was a much more mature read and I really appreciated that!


10

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The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

★★★★.8

Wow. I cannot believe I waited so long to read this one because it was AMAZING. Miller puts so much detail into the book but without bogging down the story. I loved Patroclus as a narrator and the romance between him and Achilles is beautifully done. The downside, however, is that the book leaves you an emotional wreck at the end.

Review to come soon!

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And that rounds out my top ten! Are there any favourites we’ve shared? What have been some of your best reads of 2018 thus far?

Here’s to many more fantastic books in the second half of the year!

Love Ashley

The Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

I’d been thinking about doing this tag for a while but then the other day I was actually tagged to do it by Beth at Reading Every Night. It was a sign, I tell ya! When I first started working on my answers for this tag I was like, eh, it’s fine, I’m not freaking out but then I started thinking about my readathon for next month. My brain suddenly realised it was going to be July. JULY. JUUUUULLLLLLLYYYYY. Oh good gawd. *waves arms in the air panicked*

Where has the year gone guys? Where? It’s just disappeared so quickly and I feel like I’ve done nothing. Seriously, the minute you leave school, life just seems to go by in the blink of an eye.

Stop it already. Just stop.

Reading wise, I’ve actually had a good first half of the year. My original goal was for 50 books in 2018 and I’m so happy to say that I’m already at 40! I can’t believe it! It may not seem like a lot to some people but to put it into perspective, in 2017 I read 45 books over the entire year and 38 in 2016. I blame (thank?) bookstagram and all of you lovely book bloggers out there. You push me to read more and forsake all other life activities in favour of being a hermit. Go, you guys!

I’m kidding. I wouldn’t find half the awesome stuff I read if it weren’t for you. So thank you! On that note, let’s get on with this tag.Divider

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2018

Fave reads

As if I could pick just one. Here are my favourites of the year so far:

  • Scythe – Neal Shusterman
  • The Cruel Prince – Holly Black
  • Simon v the Homosapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
  • Warcross – Marie Lu
  • Golden Son & Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Best Sequel You’ve Read so Far in 2018

sequel covers

I’ve read a lot of great sequels this year! About 15 of the books I’ve read have been part of a series and not the first book in that series, so there were bound to be some good ones. My favourites have been:

  • The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) – Rick Riordan
  • Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe) – Neal Shusterman
  • Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood Series) – Becky Albertalli
  • A Torch Against the Night (Ember Quartet) – Sabaa Tahir
  • Golden Son & Morning Star (Red Rising) – Pierce Brown

New Release you Haven’t Read Yet but Want To

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

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I really enjoyed reading An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night, so much more than I expected I would. It’s nice to see some non-white characters front and center for a change, even though I’m not always the biggest fan of Laia. However, I really like Elias and for some inexplicable reason, I love Helene. After the end of book two, I’m very much looking forward to seeing where things go now that a lot of thing have gone pear-shaped and perhaps learning more about the magical elements of the world.

(I have to mention though, I’m mildly annoyed about the cover change choice for the UK/AUS edition. The whole reason Sabaa wanted to change the covers was for diversity and representation, to actually show brown MCs on a book cover. But what do we get? A hammer. Like, really? What the hell guys?).


Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

Wildcard by Marie Lu & Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Muse & Wildcard

Why choose one when I can have TWO. The preceding books to both of these sequels were big surprises for me. I’d never read a Marie Lu book before and while I had read a Laini Taylor book, I wasn’t much of a fan. I ended up really loving both of them and I’m now genuinely excited to get my hands on their sequels. Strange the Dreamer ended in a really bad place for the characters so I just need to know that they’re going to be okay, okay? As for Wildcard, I’m really interested to see where Marie takes the story after the flip at the end of Warcross. Plus I’m a big Emika fan.


Biggest Disappointment

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard & We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

disappointing

Truthwitch: I was really hoping to find a great new fantasy series to get excited about with this one. The book ticked so many boxes and yet for some reason it was missing something crucial, I just don’t know exactly what. I had very little connection with the plot or the characters and knew I wouldn’t be reading the sequel as early as half way.

We Were Liars: I had been warned about this book but decided to give it a go anyway. As I’ve said before, I really loved the premise and there were some lovely moments but my problem was with the execution and writing, especially in regards to how the twist was handled.


Biggest Surprise

Prince’s Gambit by C. S. Pacat

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The first book in this series, The Captive Prince, had a few issues for me but I decided to continue on anyway. To  my surprise a lot of my concerns were improved upon in book two and I ended up enjoying the sequel a lot more. It’s kind of trashy at times but I have to admire the fact that there’s actually some good world building and character development in these books and even though it took me a while, I was definitely rooting for Damen and Laurent by the end of this one.


Fave New Author

Pierce Brown & Neal Shusterman

I had never read anything from either of these authors at the beginning of this year and now their books are some of only a short list to have received five stars (or close to) from me on Goodreads (the number is rising though!). The Red Rising series was a fantastic sci-fi read and I now regard it as one of my favourite series. The Arc of a Scythe books were a pleasant surprise for me and  ended up being absolutely wonderful. I’m so sad that I’ll have to wait ages for the third installment.


Newest Fictional Crush

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I had a think about this one, and there isn’t really anyone in the books I’ve read this year that I’ve found myself making massive love heart eyes at. Weird, I know. So for this one I’ve just picked a character that I found particularly interesting which was Prince Cardan from The Cruel Prince. Swooning over him is a bit difficult with how badly he behaves towards Jude and others, but I’ll admit, I did enjoy many of his witty retorts and the exchanges he had with Jude in the later parts of the book. His character also seems to have a good amount of depth that I’m looking forward to exploring more in The Wicked King. 


Newest Fave Character

Another tough question. I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just one so here’s a couple of my new favourites:

  • Emika Chen (Warcross – Marie Lu) – Total badass hacker with rainbow hair. She’s strong, smart but also has vulnerabilities.
  • Cricket (Lifel1k3 – Jay Kristoff) – Always trying so hard to keep people out of trouble and has the courage of a robot a million times his itsy baby size.
  • Cress (Cress – Marissa Meyer) – She’s just so adorable, I want to wrap her up in bubble wrap but, of course, also want her to experience the world and see many, many trees.
  • Sevro au Barca, Victra au Julii, Ragnar Volarus, Mustang (Red Rising Series – Pierce Brown) – Okay, basically everyone. The characters are so well written. They make me laugh, break my heart, get me cheering and keep me guessing, sometimes all within one chapter.
  • Nico di Angelo – I can’t even explain it. He’s kind of annoying for a while and then by the end of book five I was like, protect at all costs my little skeleton-controlling cinnamon roll.

Book that Made you Cry

Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman

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I haven’t really read anything this year that has made me cry, there aren’t many books in general that have, but Call me by your Name certainly had me in that pit of despair feeling for a bit. We’ve all been there. The fact that they just go through their lives having always loved each other but destined to be apart kills me a little. Then again, the story wouldn’t be as poignant or beautiful if it had just had a happily ever after, would it?


Book that Made you Happy

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

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TGLAPPPS was such a nice read. While it definitely has its sadder moments, as you’d expect with recollections relating to WWII and Nazi occupation, the characters are so adorable and the ending leaves you with the biggest smile on your face. It’s a great reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the fact that light can come out of even the darkest of situations.


Fave Book to Film Adaptation

Love, Simon

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As if this was even a question. I loved this movie, so, so much. I can’t wait to buy the DVD next month and do a re-watch. It’s just the sweetest, loveliest, cutest thing, and perfectly captured the feel of the book.


Fave Post you’ve Done this Year

Gosh, now there’s a question. I don’t think I’ve really done anything particularly noteworthy. However, if we’re talking about the enjoyment factor, I think I had the most fun writing my discussion post on book lending  and my review of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I always love a good gif.


Most Beautiful Book you’ve Bought this Year

Circe by Madeline Miller

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My inner magpie came out with this choice, I just couldn’t resist the shiny object. I was tempted to wait and purchase the hardback because of how completely stunning it was (check it out if you haven’t already seen it), but I couldn’t stop myself from racing to the counter once I locked eyes on the paperback one day at the bookstore. The copper colour, shiny surface, lovely floral designs, font – I love everything about it, it’s beautiful. The fact that I got a matching tote bag free with it made the purchase even better!


Books you Need to Read by the End of the Year

Oh dear. How do I even answer this one. Everything. All of them. Every book unread on my bookshelves, books I haven’t even bought yet. Books I don’t even know about yet. JUST SO MANY BOOKS!

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And we’re finished! Here’s to another six months of wonderful reads. How’s the first half of your 2018 been? What’s been your favourite book, your least favourite? What are you most excited to read in the second half of the year? Tell me all about it!

Love Ashley

 

Let’s Talk: Fairies in Fiction

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When I was ten, I was captivated by the magic of The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. The fey in these stories varied in their appearance and nature, ranging from brownies and goblins to nixies and ogres, but just like in any other book about the fair folk, they were also tricksy, mysterious and of course, dangerous. As I moved into my teenage years, fairy stories soon began to lose their appeal in favour of vampires, angels, and werewolves. However, over the last few years the genre has had an epic resurgence in fantasy and, much like a lot of other people’s, my interest has returned with a similar vengeance. So, recently I started thinking about what it is exactly that’s so appealing about stories dealing with the fey these days, and here’s what I came up with:

Magic

One of the best parts of fantasy is magic and it’s something that features pretty much constantly in fey stories. It’s most common purpose is  reinforcing a hierarchy – separating the all-powerful rulers from the ruled or, more commonly, the annoying antagonist character that needs to get their butt kicked from our central characters. Magic in fey stories is also often a court identifier and shows just how rooted a fairy character’s court is in their personality. In Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series, Summer King Keenan isn’t just the ruler of the Summer Court, he literally exudes sunlight and warmth. And we wonder why fey are usually arrogant asses…

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Magic’s great at spicing up conflict situations. I mean, reading about Aelin kicking ass in the Throne of Glass books is pretty awesome but assassin abilities plus fey magic? Now you’re talkingFairy magic also acts as a great plot device in regards to coming of age or transformation stories, particularly where it’s somehow bestowed upon someone who used to be human (or at least thought they were) and now has to learn how to use it. Eventually they accept themselves, develop as a person and progress on their path towards bad-assery, as we find with Laurel in Wings and Feyre in A Court of Mist and Fury.

Truth Telling & Two-Sidedness

A fascinating component of fairy lore is the idea that the fey are incapable of lying. Yet, because of this they’re exceptionally good at telling half-truths and using the truth to manipulate situations to their advantage. Just look at the scene introducing the fairy queen in Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes – one conversation, a little bit of honesty, and suddenly everything’s topsy-turvy in our characters’ relationships.  I love this trope because it forces you and the characters to read between the lines of what’s being said and creates the perfect circumstances for a plot twist or betrayal.

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…Or a reverse betrayal as the case is in Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens.

This idea feeds into the fairy nature of being two-faced. While the fey are outwardly very beautiful and seem to delight in light-hearted things like games, music, dance and food, underneath it all there’s a compelling darkness and twisted cruelty. This provides such a great opportunity for characters to rise above all of that in order to serve as interesting protagonists. Yet, it also allows for some pretty terrible villains, acting out of a desire for power or simply their own amusement (like the asshole fairies in Black’s The Cruel Prince).

Immortality & Beauty

Okay, let’s be honest, it’s rare to find fairy based stories that don’t involve a romantic component and if there’s romance going on, you can bet that the characters involved will be damn attractive.

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And fairies are just that. They’re athletic, beautiful (often almost verging on too much so), experienced in the ways of the world, and will likely stay that way forever – that is unless someone decides to physically attack them. Essentially, there’s the attractive elements found in the vampire genre minus the creepy, well, dead issue. Listening to every human character go on and on about how amazing looking fey characters are in comparison to themselves does get a bit old but hey, a reader needs someone swoon worthy once in a while, even if they can be kind of a sucky person on occasion (e.g. Prince Cardan from The Cruel Prince, Dorian from Dark Swan, or Kiaran from The Falconer)

Courts & Conflict

Another very common feature of fey based stories these days is to follow elements of traditional fairy lore by dividing the population up into different courts. This is usually based on seasons, times of day or whether they’re feeling particularly Seelie or not (haha…okay, bad joke. I’ll see myself out.) It’s a structure used in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan books, and Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, just to name a few. And why? Because it’s a perfect driver for conflict. These courts don’t just differ in name, but also in culture, attitudes and temperament. Then again, it doesn’t help that fey kingdoms often resemble modern-era Europe in their desire for power and tendency to prey on the weak. Plus, anyone who lives as long as fairies do is bound to build up some serious grudges over the years. If it were me, I’d start screwing with people just to alleviate the mind numbing boredom of immortality…

Fairy courts also provide opportunities for alliances and political intrigue, and at times even all-out war. The fun part is watching them try to interact with one another with sometimes awful or hilarious results. See A Court of Wings and Ruin for an entertaining example. Essentially, Me:

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Are you a fan of fey related books? If so, why and what are some of your favourites?

Love Ashley

The Aesthetically Pleasing Book Tag

It’s time for another fun book tag. I can thank Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall for this one. I stumbled across her post and knew I had to try it out because who doesn’t love looking at pretty books?

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Best Colour Combo On a Book Cover

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater is my pick for this one. I really love the use of blue and orange here. They’re complementary colours on the colour wheel so they create a striking contrast when used together that really makes the cover stand out.

Best Typography/Font On a Book Cover

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I quite like the typography on the cover of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. It gives the appearance of the words appearing out of smoke as they wind their way around the tree branches, adding to the mysterious look of the cover.

Best Simple Cover

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Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden. I actually have this book on kindle but I’m really tempted to buy a physical copy.  It’s such a simple cover, a pair of painted red lips and some pale skin, and yet it’s still so eye catching. I also like that it complements the novel itself, showcasing a taste of the traditional geisha make up style.

Best End Pages

I don’t own many hardbacks as they’re really expensive to buy in Australian book stores, but at the end of last year I purchased the gorgeous special edition of A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. It broke my rule of not having more than one copy of the same book but it was so worth it. I mean, the end pages alone are amazing.

Best Map

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I’ve noticed that a lot of people have been going with Middle Earth for this one. It’s a fantastic map but for something different, I’m going to use one of my fave series, good, old Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (any excuse, right?).

Best Naked Hardback

Sorry guys, I don’t actually have an answer for this one. Like I said, I don’t own many hardbacks and the ones I actually do own are unfortunately very plain beneath their jackets.

Best Back Cover

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So, this seems to be another one targeted at hardbacks because just sayin’, paperback backs are pretty damn boring. It’s usually a solid colour and a blurb. From my very limited range of HBs to pick from,  I’ve ended up with Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco because of it’s cool surgical instruments and another Maggie Stiefvater book, Shiver because of the pretty tree branches and leaves.

Best Chapter Headers

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I recently finished The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and I loved the sweet chapter headers with their flowers, toadstools and bees.

Best Illustrations

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As if I could pick anything else but my Harry Potter illustrated editions. The art in these books is amazing. I could spend forever just flipping through and staring at the beauty of Jim Kay’s illustrations.

Best Spine

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This is probably cheating because it’s a whole series rather than one book but eh, too bad. I adore the new covers for Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series because the spines make up a cool picture of the main characters facing a bridge, preparing for battle.

Favourite Cover on Shelves

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You have no idea how hard this one was, there are so many wonderful covers on my shelves, but eventually I had to resign myself to the fact that I completely fell in love with this one the moment I saw it. The stunning blue colour, shining golden text, and the ornate styled moth, it’s gorgeous and I find it difficult to draw my eyes away every time I look at it.

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And…we’re done!  I’m not so big on tagging individual people but if you’d like to do this one, please go for it.

The Descent to Hell is Easy: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

4 stars

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A large chunk of you have probably already read this particular release by now but as I’ve just read it and it’s still fresh in my memory, I’m going to review it anyway. These days I don’t often sit around excitedly waiting for books to come out, I’m too busy trying to conquer my existing mound. Still, I was actually really looking forward to reading this one and because I refrained from reading anything other than the blurb beforehand, I avoided a first class ticket all aboard the hype train. Woot, woot!

The gist: TCP centres around seventeen-year-old, Jude, who after the murder of her parents is forced to grow up in Faerie along with her two sisters under the guardianship of her parents’ murderer. Not as prisoners, we’re talking confusing pseudo-parent relationship here.

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To make matters worse, the fey are kind of well…awful. If they’re not trying to eat or control Jude, they’re most certainly trying to frighten and torment her, especially the punk ass faeries she’s stuck going to school with. So fair warning, you will spend the first part of the book basically just thinking:

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Until BAM. In comes…

faerie politics,

espionage,

ALLIANCES,

MURDER,

PLOTTING!

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Okay, getting a teensy bit carried away, but you get the point – lies, twists and stabby-stabby. I don’t want to dwell too much here because spoilers, but a lot of the drama revolves around the faerie royal family and the throne. It sends everything into chaos and drives our protagonist to become increasingly more morally questionable in her search for power after too long being one of the powerless.

Why you Should Read this Book:

It Starts and Ends with a Bang

We begin with several murders and end with political machinations and a side of murder.

Characters in Shades of Grey

There are pretty much no characters in this book that can be considered straight forward good or bad, which is great because character complexity is what we all want. The fey that populate Faerie each have their own self-centred drives, mean streaks and chequered  pasts, including those characters that we’re supposed to root for and those who seem a-okay for chunks of the time.

Even our main character, Jude, isn’t immune from this, possessing a underlying bloodthirstiness and craving for power as great as any faerie’s – one that becomes increasingly apparent as the story goes on and is likely to bite her in the ass later. While she may not always be a likeable character, she’s definitely an engaging one.

Then, of course, there’s Prince Cardan. Ah, Cardan.

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…And apparently so does Cardan. Damn it, you just had to go and develop (a) depth and (b) an amusing, sarcastic sense of humour. *sigh* I guess sometimes you just can’t help but root for the asshole. I’m not saying I’m swooning but by the end of the book I definitely enjoyed every time he turned up on the page. But hopefully it’s okay because I consciously recognise the fact that he’s scum.

Politics, Secrets and Lies, Oh My!

A lot of people have said this is faerie Game of Thrones and I guess the analogy works to a degree, just don’t expect as much complexity. Still, the enjoyment factor was definitely there for me. I really loved reading as the power plays, plotting, and twists unfolded during the fey and Jude’s struggles for power. A lot of people were quite shocked by the sudden turns in the book, me not so much, but they’ve provided a great foundation to get excited about going into book two.

Writing

This has been a bit of a divisive one. World building aside, I quite like Black’s style and voice. It’s a little bit dark, a touch twisted, doesn’t dwell too much on imagery, and manages to come up with some great lines, particularly where they relate to Jude’s assessments of herself. A few examples:

“I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.”

 “Desire is an odd thing. As soon as it’s sated, it transmutes. If we receive golden thread, we desire the golden needle.”

“That’s what comes of hungering for something: You forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down.”

Reasons you May Not Enjoy this One:

Pacing & Direction

This is a book that takes a while to really get going. The first half revolves around Jude’s interactions with her family and the fey in her class, and her desire to try and prove herself at a tournament. For some people this’ll be too slow pace wise and worse, for a long time these events are going to seem unconnected and without any real purpose. By the end you’ll understand their importance in getting Jude and events to where they needed to be but until then it might put people slightly in struggle town.

Unlikeable or Just Plain ‘Eh’ Characters

TCP contains a lot of unlikeable characters without a balanced amount of loveable ones. While my perceptions of people improved over the course of the novel, I can safely say that while there were several characters I liked, there were none I loved and if they’d been killed off I probably would have just gone:

However, I can see why it might be the case in this kind of story where basically everyone’s motives are suspect.

Jude herself is also slightly difficult to relate to or like at times. While her strength and smarts are great, her arrogance, whining, and keenness to out awful the faeries, not so much.

“If I cannot be better than them, I will be so much worse.”

Additionally, a lot of her traits and skills are kind of just thrown at the reader without much development or explanation which makes bonding with her as a MC a bit difficult.

World Building

After reading the entire novel I still know very little about the world it’s set in – the inhabitants, the social hierarchy, usage of magic, interactions with the human world, war, the broader politics of Faerie, etc. It’s a bit like a puzzle where you can make out small details in the tiny sections you’ve completed but on the whole, you have no idea what the damn thing’s supposed to be yet. Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it’s….lack of proper world building. I get it, we all hate info dumping but a little more than general vagueness is always much appreciated.

Despite it’s flaws, I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince and raced through it in the space of about two days. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if you go into it, ignore the hype, try to appreciate the book for what it is, and hopefully you’ll enjoy yourself. As for me, I’ll be over here, eagerly awaiting The Wicked King. *whistles*

4 stars

Read this one too? What were your thoughts?

Top 10 Tuesday: 2018 Book Releases I’m Looking Forward to

I really should do the TTT topics that are assigned but there always seems to be another topic I feel like doing more. *shrugs* What can you do?

This week I’m doing ten 2018 book releases that I’m looking forward to reading. They’re in no particular order and there are definitely others that could be on the list (The Untitled third Nevernight book, for example – but I feel that three Kristoff books might be a bit excessive). The first book on the list has already been released but because it’s a 2018 release and I haven’t read it, it counts! On this list I have faeries, epic space battles, witch ghosts, x-men like mutants, android AIs, and blue-skinned gods. In other words, it’s going to be a good year.

Without further ado…

2018 Releases

Are any of these books primed and ready on your TBR for this year? Tell me about it so we can scream in excitement together! Okay, maybe just use LOTS of caps.