Weekly Wrap Up

Weekly wrap up header

This week on the blog

Death Wish (#1) by Megan Tayte

 ★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars


Heather: A Story of Sydney’s Underworld by A. J. Sendall

 ★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars


News (of sorts)!


Land of the Giants (#2) by D. M. Almond

  ★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars


Darkest Mercy (#5) by Melissa Marr

Published:  March 3rd 2011
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 327
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★   – 5 Stars

The Summer King is missing, the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey. Love, despair and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict some will win…and some will lose everything.

As the Wicked Lovely series comes to a reviewing end I realise that I rather enjoyed them and a small part of me is sad that it has ended. But this is why the reread is such a glorious past time. Years down the track I can return and go ah yes, I remember you, and of course probably end up liking and not liking the same things, or things will make a lot more sense, who really knows.

When I finished this book I was so pleased that it was a final book to a series that doesn’t make me want to hate the author and curse them to high heaven with every swear word in the
devil’s dictionary, *cough* Mr Lewis *cough* Mr Snicket. After going back and forth in each book from good to intriguing, to annoying to alright we have some balance in book number five, which is great. There is a clear sense of growing tension and the threats of War brings out a completely new side of everyone which is just what you need at this point. Enough of the relationship drama and complaining and whining, it is time to get serious and it is done so well.

As the Courts try and recover from the actions in the previous book, they are also trying to prevent, prepare or ready themselves for battle with War. The majority of the narrative is alternating between Courts as we see them struggle with these recent events, while simultaneously holding back the battle they know they can’t prevent. The Summer Court is struggling with Keenan MIA, the Dark Court is wounded and even in the final chapters of this saga Marr still has more to reveal to us. I have said it before and I will say it again, for all the faults in this series, Marr’s ability to pull you in with what she isn’t telling you, and what she won’t show you right away is one of the real highlights for me. This book is filled with so much tension and suspense it is amazing. You pretty much have no idea what is going on but you love it all the same. You feel pain with these characters and you have an understanding of where they are coming from, something that has always been a strong point in Marr’s writing style as well. You try and predict the future and guess where the story will run and as much as you try and think you know what will happen Marr takes you somewhere else, and it works.

The build up of tension and the anticipation of action is clear for about the first half, but when the change comes you can see it begin to unravel steadily and then suddenly erupt. Everything rushes towards the end early on while still managing the steady pace. It is almost as if there are two layers going on within this book: the build up is being developed through the narrative, all the while the action has actually already begun under the surface and is pulling it along. That is the best description of it I have, but whatever it is it is working on so many levels. As you read you feel the excitement grow and it starts in gradual waves but then things change and you are just waiting for the explosion, which comes in spectacular form I might add.

No one in any of the Courts has declared war yet but War is there any way, and seeing how these characters react is brilliant. Keenan finally does something besides being a selfish manipulative guy, Aislinn comes into her own, Niall, oh god Niall is fantastic, always a favourite, and Donia shows her strength as usual, she did not have far to go like the others in terms of character strength but she does not hold back all the same. The fact that War is already there makes you feel like you are in the end of a film where the final battle montage plays and you see each of our main characters preparing or fighting for their lives and what they stand for. Lives are lost, those who remain are wounded in more ways than just physically, and there is the little rainbow at the end that tells you the damage is done but you know they will recover. This feeling comes in with a pretty much half the book to go but the way Marr has spread this out and treated each person to their own preparation was so well done. By alternating perspectives you really get to see their thoughts and reactions to everything that has happened or is happening. And what adds to the suspense is that there is no real promise of the movie rainbow in sight.

The presence of War we have seen in the past books becomes a dominating force as the world around fey and mortal alike begins to shatter. Casualties and sacrifices are shown on both sides, some not as dramatic or as violent as others, but powerful all the same. All the small battles have nothing against that of War, but that is her purpose. She is the embodiment of war and she is disobeying every rule of Faerie to get what she wants. By ignoring the rules she baits the Regents into fighting and lures them into her domain. It was really good to see everyone come into their own after so long dealing with their issues. The earlier books were fine because the situation had to be set up, but the fault was in the middle where I felt we hung on too long to the drama and love and mortality and connecting and it was so over the top. Now we have seen that reasonably dealt with we can get back to what makes these books so enjoyable: the politics and power theirs faeries wield under the surface. I understand that understanding history makes them what they become, but even if this weren’t the case it is worth having to read about these relationship dramas and internal struggles just for a glimpse of the real hidden power these fey have. We caught glimpses of it in the previous book but the threat of War brings it to its head marvellously.

The final chapters, well the last third actually, are worthy of everything that has been building over the past four books. There has been some bumps along the way and tediousness and a few out of sorts issues (looking at you book three), but by the final few chapters I could barely contain my excitement about what was going to happen. When Marr writes well, and writes with the tone and style it deserves it is brilliance. Nothing more, nothing less. Again, it is like Harry Potter 7: it is about the physical fights most of the time yes, but you can win just as well with logic and technicalities, they will help you win the fight more than the sword. When you finish the book there is no questions about what happens, what will happen, or any confusion. There is certainly no feeling of unsatisfactoriness. Definitely a fitting conclusion to a very well thought out and executed series.

Radiant Shadows (#4) by Melissa Marr

Published:  April 24th 2010
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 340
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Hunger for nourishment.
Hunger for touch.
Hunger to belong.

Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.

Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.

Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

What do you do when you can’t sleep at 3am? You add a review, naturally. The one thing I really love is the titles of these books. There is always that wonderful moment where you find the line in the book that makes the title make sense. Love those moments. Anyway, as we near the end of this series it gets a bit intriguing. I started this book as soon as I finished the previous one, which was a first. I do not know whether it was anticipation exactly, but based on the conclusion to Fragile Eternity I think I just wanted to see if Marr added something extra. And, the review originally went up 2 Jan so we have finally hit the current year! Joyous times.

I feel a little guilty not giving most of this series more than three stars so far, but there is always a little something that stops me. Radiant Shadows offers yet another perspective into the world of Faerie and the Courts. What Marr does well is create an entire world that interacts and overlaps with one another. Each book focuses on a separate section and aspect of the story but it all connects to past events and connects everyone together, nothing is a separate tale. The reason I think I find fault is that sometimes the writing can be a little bit weak. There are certainly moments of brilliant and intricate narrative that is twisted and bled out at the key moments, they are wonderful. But then you have to deal with the very dramatic and sometimes annoying issue of relationships. Conflict is done well in Radiant Shadows, and the brutality and power is clear in the Dark Court which is fantastic as usual, but dealing with young love seems out of place and not as well written amongst this power and drama.

With this new side of the saga, Marr explores the Dark Court more fully, as well as the Hounds, who we were briefly shown first in Ink Exchange I think in some detail. Book four shows us the perspective of Ani, who is the sister of Rabbit and Tish, and daughter of the Hound Gabriel. The Summer Court gets minimal mention here as the Darker sides are given free rein, but trusty Seth is there through his connection to the Courts in question. There is a greater and clearer threat by War as a main storyline here, something that has been lurking in the background while other drama played out in the other books. Again Marr works her structure well as we see the gradual and more believable rise of these issues. War doesn’t just come in and wreak havoc, she likes to play with people and mess with people because she know she can and she knows what she wants. As a result we see how, when and why limits are stretched and broken, and see that the threats to Faerie are becoming clearer.

The ongoing conflicts and rising issues around the Dark and High Courts are all very well and good, but for such epic strength from these Courts and these faeries the writing doesn’t really reflect this. The Hounds seem to be the only ones who are the most consistent in terms of intimidation and power. Certainly there are flickers where you see moments of great power, and you can feel that you are on the brink of something and you wait for these grand fights and displays of strength, or just something that makes you believe that they are are strong and threatening as they claim, but then it just dwindles away and you feel let down.

As the drama comes to a head during the last hundred pages or so, this was when I finally had a moment where I went, yes this is more like it, a true powerful battle with everyone’s strength and true nature being set free. This does not last long but I am glad that those who let me down were the newbies rather than characters I have stuck with through previous books. Those powerful in the Dark Court, Irial, darling Niall, and even Hound Gabriel to a point, they do not let you down, there is no second guessing them as they are as ruthless and powerful as they always have been. The conclusion is certainly worthy and offers a real clifhanger into the final book. It was just a shame we had to wait an entire book almost to see any excitement.

The issue with this review is that there is no strong plot to review. It is so simple really and it just gets dragged out with car trips and waiting around it seems. I know this is probably completely misinterpreted, and I understand so much of it was based around secrets, hidden fates and new sensations and desires, but it felt off, nothing actually happened for most of the book. Perhaps I haven’t had time to adjust to the new characters, we are introduced to their lives and sent on an adventure with them all in one book before we know what is going on. They may return and thrive in the next book, who knows. One thing that annoyed me was Seth, he and Ani kept getting up my nose, they didn’t seem like real people in this book, kind of fake and unbelievable. Seth was doing so well too, he was improving.

As I say, not much of a review but I think it reflects the confusing nature of the book. I’ll say this: I understand why it was important, I understand how everything needed to happen and fix the issues, but the opportunity to turn it into a strong narrative failed. It’s like Harry Potter 7: the most important book with the epic finale, and most of it was camping. That is how I feel here. The next book has a lot to live up to to bring this series home.

Fragile Eternity (#3) by Melissa Marr

Published:  April 21st 2009
Goodreads badgePublisher: Bowen Press
Pages: 389
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone – but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he’d ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen.

Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who’d always terrified her – but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she’d ever imagined.

This book had good and bad in it, it was a good read but there were just some bits in it that were strange. The original review of this book is from 20 Dec 2012 so another big gap between books but that wasn’t because I didn’t want to keep going. In this third book we return to the storyline surrounding Aislinn and her court, but the other courts play their part as well to varying degrees. Being back with the Summer Court drama and the connecting stories with the Dark and Winter Courts is great as usual, but they are not exactly the main focus of the story. The issue here though is that while the Court drama is there and you see emotional turmoil between these characters, it does also just come across as typical relationship drama in a faerie setting.

Through all of the faerie changes and introduction has been Aislinn’s friend and then boyfriend Seth. He may have been accidentally been excluded from the previous reviews but he was there helping and playing the supportive friend/boyfriend combination. He was also there in Ink Exchange despite it following Leslie, I liked that about him because it showed he was not just attached to Aislinn and he showed he had friends away from her and his own life pretty much. You can see in these previous books how Seth is trying to understand and how he is trying to help Aislinn with what she is going through and he does whatever he can to help their relationship as well. He is a likeable character and I quite liked him. Fragile Eternity gives Seth a much bigger role, something that was needed probably, we see so much of every one else that we only catch glimpses of the inner workings of Seth.

The story begins with us seeing how Seth and Aislinn are dealing with this relationship they have on the more personal level. There is a lot focused around the fact that Seth is struggling to enjoy and have the relationship he wants with Aislinn because of her power, as well as trying to be patient with Aislinn who is constantly trying to fight the pull she has with Keenan. I understand that they are supposed to be together and build Summer’s strength, and I get that both Summer King and Queen love other people, but what bugged me was the repetition. Similar to the mortality discussions from Wicked Lovely, over and over we must bring it up that this is the issue.

With no spoilers I will say Aislinn is a more likeable character in this book, her situation helps make her character stronger, but her reaction to circumstances is a nice change. There is no sudden acceptance on her behalf, and it gives you hope that she will stay true to wishes, despite the pressures around her. The writing around these events is well done also. It is strong and realistic and you can see the impact it has on everyone and it has been developed and described really well. Favourites of the Dark and Winter Court return in their own ways, but there is an introduction of another court, adding more intrigue and mystery. With the new court introduced we are shown more parts of the faerie world and how everything is connected, characters previously mentioned are suddenly explained in much clearer terms and everything begins to fall into order, though there are still a lot of gaps, just as Marr likes it. Compared with the others I think this book went slightly odd in terms of writing style, something that remains I discovered into the next book. Something about the new court is just not written about in the same manner as the others and it tends to go back and forth as the story changes focus. Perhaps it is the court’s nature I don’t know, but it was weird.

While Seth gets a much bigger role than sidekick boyfriend here, he also changes a little bit from the previous books I think personality wise, and then even further. This is where it falters. From the Seth we are shown in the first two books, he suddenly changes his personality to something I personally didn’t think suited him, especially where he had come from. Too much acceptance too quickly as well. Nothing bothers me more than huge changes that people instantly accept. Aislinn took an entire book to even begin to accept what was going on and she is still going, Seth does not have this issue. I do not know whether it was because he knew what was going on, and what Aislinn knew and experienced was very different, but it felt off; not rushed per se, but not believable I guess.

The fact this reads very much like a typical teenage melodramatic relationship drama rather than a faerie story gets very tiring, being set in a faerie world simply added different elements into the same old story. We are under no illusion that this is complicated and that there are forces trying to pull things in one direction while everyone pulls the opposite direction, that has been clear from the very beginning of the series. Somehow in Fragile Eternity Marr has decided to bring this up as often as she can and have it as the forethought of everyone about being with the people they love when they are so different. I can’t be too cynical as it does help bring it all together, you see cause and effect, and see new sides to the faerie world as you learn more about it because of it so I guess there is that.

Overall it was good, you see the next stage of the saga progress and holes are filled in and issues are solved while other are beginning to form. I like that we are being drawn along by the things we aren’t told, it is a very good tactic in my opinion, but it is overshadowed in this book I think by the teen angst feel. The other criticism, amongst the others in this rather long review, was that the end was a bit sudden. Not in a cliffhanger kind of way but it finished and left you a bit unsatisfied and confused. I suppose that is meant to make you go into book four to see the conclusion and reaction, who knows.

Ink Exchange (#2) by Melissa Marr

Published:  March 31st 2009
Goodreads badgePublisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 352
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Leslie wants a tattoo as a way of reclaiming control of herself and her body, but the eerie image she selects pulls her into the dangerous Dark Court of the faeries, where she draws on inner strength to make a horrible choice…

Welcome to book two of the Wicked Lovely series! We are but a mere 40% of the way through this series but already you can see that this world is going to be large, it is going to be constructed in its entirety, it is going to be exciting and we are certainly not going to get all the facts until we need them, or are ready for them even. That’s what Marr is like. The original review for this book is from 25 Sept 2012 because it took be a little over a month to start the second book. I was intrigued from the first book but not desperate to jump into the next one. However when I did I was rather surprised.

When I started this book I thought for a moment it was a totally new story with new characters and I was annoyed because I was looking forward to continuing the previous story. I had just gotten invested in these characters and then we suddenly shift. I was mistaken thankfully. Ink Exchange is told from the point of view of Leslie, Leslie was in Wicked Lovely which I had forgotten about, and now we get to see her point of view and find out about her exposure to faeries. It was good to see the faery life from an outsiders perspective, we had spent so much of the first book with Aislinn who knew all about them and could see them prancing about everywhere. By switching to Leslie’s perspective we are able to see how mortals without Sight interact and react to the faeries around them when they cannot see them and when they do become visible.

The story begins with Leslie unaware of anything that Aislinn had experienced, she is trying to survive in her own world and deal with the issues in her own life. In a desperate need to change and escape her life she slowly begins to get mixed up with the faery world and it drags her deeper and deeper in. Characters who were minor characters in the previous book gain a bigger role and those who dominated before are pushed into the background. What was great about this story was the fact you got to see everyone’s perspective through narration and through character responses. Seeing Aislinn’s actions and life from the outside was an odd experience considering we were exposed to all of her thoughts, feelings and emotions before, but this has now been transferred to Leslie which adds another element and reaction entirely.

Marr revealed a few more secrets and mysteries about her characters some new, some old, certainly none are fully revealed in this part of the story which adds to the anxious wait of waiting to find out what will happen and what she could be building to. There are small moments of suspense where you are unsure what will happen as Marr brings emotions and consequences very close to the edge. She creates characters that make you worried and concerned and by using outsider Leslie’s perspective it adds another layer to the events and emotions from Wicked Lovely.

The Summer and Winter courts return with Keenan, Donia, darling Niall and every one else in tow, but we are also given greater detail and insight into the Dark Court and their king Irial. The first book was used as an introduction to the entire world and Ink Exchange continues this, but it also covers another aspect of the faery world. We are shown sides of the Dark Court and the fear and respect they bring to faeries, and what the relationship is like between these courts. Our understanding of those outside the courts grows as well, such as The Hounds. All of this introduction and revelation has been cleverly interwoven into everyone’s lives and across novels where you don’t realise the significance until much later. Aside from creating character connections and further introductions there are personal battles, threats of War, sacrifices and inner demons spread throughout this novel, all of which make Ink Exchange a very fitting sequel indeed.

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