Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My 2015 in Books

As 2015 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on all the books I've read this year. It's almost like reading them again! Since I didn't read only 2015 releases, I've included some older books in my round-up, but I think they deserve the titles they are given.

They say you should always start with the bad news, so without further ado:

My Biggest Disappointments

The White Rose by Amy Ewing (Review) 
I read The Jewel and thought it was incredibly average, but something made me read book two, The White Rose. This novel mainly consisted of a completely forced romance with a guy who has no purpose to the plot outside making lovey eyes at the protagonist, and Violet running away for half the book with no actual plot progression.

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton (Review)
This book absolutely killed me. I read the first two in the series, Everneath and Everbound, and absolutely adored them. So, naturally, I was very excited for the final novel. Man, was I disappointed. The ending is obvious, the villain is completely undefined and under-utilised, and the romance fell completely flat. Blah.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (Review)
I had high expectations for this novel, and I think that may have worked against me. There was nothing unique about the mythology used in this book. The protagonist felt really unrealistic, like she is far too quick to believe that there is a god requesting something from her. I've heard the series gets better over time, and I truly hope so.

The Elite by Kiera Cass (Review)
I really enjoyed The Selection, as cheesy and fluffy as it was. However, The Elite and The One were both so... boring. Nothing really happened, and these two could easily have been made into one book. Really, the whole series could have resolved in one book. I don't have unrealistic expectations, I went in knowing this book would be fluffy, and that's fine - I just hate fluff that takes forever.

The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross (Review)
This one was perhaps the most disappointing of all. I have stuck with this series since it started, and it was one of those series I attribute my love of reading to. The three books before this one were all action-packed and exciting, but this one just fell flat. There was nothing unique about it and it just felt like a way to get all the main characters paired off and give them their happy endings.

My Absolute Favourites

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Review)
As you know, I am a huge fan of the Throne of Glass series, which is what motivated me to pick this book up. I read it with my book club (feel free to join us here), and though I did not love it initially, about 70 pages in I was absolutely hooked. I was interstate on holiday, and kept making excuses to go back to the hotel so I could read more. The romance was intense and beautiful, the girl saves the guy, and the world-building is exquisite. Another truly amazing book by Queen Maas.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Review)
Apparently this year is the year of Beauty and the Beast for me, since this and A Court of Thorns and Roses are two of my top books for the year. Hodge's writing completely enraptured me, and the mythology aspects of this novel are unique and thoughtful. I have never read another book like this, which is uncommon these days. It's a short read and not a series, so I recommend it to anyone looking for something quick and easy (but still beautiful).

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Review)
My, my, I'm starting to look like a hopeless romantic, aren't I? Ahdieh's book stood out for me because, like Cruel Beauty, I had never read a book quite like this before. Which is saying something, since it is a retelling. I love diverse books (especially books not based in the US) and this novel is set in a truly under-utilised historical period. The romance makes you want to cry and laugh, and things are never quite what you think they are...

The Rose Society by Marie Lu (Review)
Marie "Soul Crusher" Lu is back with a vengeance in this series, and I love it even more than I loved Legend. Adelina is a truly interesting protagonist, and I loved hearing the story from her perspective. All great novels are character driven in my humble opinion, and Adelina is that great combination of sympathetic and evil that makes me feel alright about loving her, despite her bad actions. I was hooked from the moment I picked it up, and I cannot wait until the third book is out!

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (Review)
Now this book was a real surprise. As you may remember, I was not that impressed with Rutkoski's first book in this series, but I had already bought the sequel so I figured I should give it a shot. I am so glad I did, because this novel was nothing like the first. The Winner's Curse read mostly like a romance novel, with very little else. The Winner's Crime had elements of romance (which were beautifully written), but also had politics, fantasy, and intrigue. The ending almost killed me (in the best way), and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Most Anticipated for 2016

I am not going to comment on these since I know nothing beyond their blurbs, but I am super excited for these 2016 releases. Frankie by Shivaun Plozza gets a special mention, since I love a contemporary book based outside of America (we Aussies do everything better)!

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Young Elites #3 by Marie Lu
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass #5 by Sarah J. Maas
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
Riders by Veronica Rossi
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

And with that, the year is over. Happy new year, and I look forward to debating seemingly irrelevant plot points for hours with you all next year!

-Grace Lucy

Saturday, 26 December 2015

"The Wrath and The Dawn" (The Wrath and The Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely devoured this novel. My family and friends tried to pull me away from my reading with promises of food and socialising, but nothing was more tempting than staying put and reading this beautiful book. It's been a long time since a book enraptured me like this, and I won't soon forget it.

Ahdieh writes with a gorgeous, lyrical quality that suits her story very well. Although this is based on a classic tale, it still feels fresh and new because of both Ahdieh's beautiful prose and the new plot twists she has added in. It's been a day, and I can't bring myself to pick up another book because her writing has taken up permanent space in my brain. It's a blessing and a curse. It would also be remiss of me not to mention diversity in reference to this novel. I adored learning about the culture of Khorasan, which was a stunning backdrop to this story. Anything to get a YA book that is not set in America!

The romance between Shahrzad and Khalid is raw, painful, real, beautiful and heart-wrenching. I really, truly thought I would hate this couple. Khalid is a monster, and how can he possibly make up for his past? I was expecting Shahrzad to be beguiled by his pretty face and that was it. How wrong I was! These two characters fell in that hopeless "meant-to-be" kind of love that makes your heart melt. Ahdieh allowed their love to rise and fall with the various trials that came their way, and yet I believed in their relationship all the same. Ugh. This book is turning me into a big ol' sappy mess.

The multiple POVs kept me in touch with what was happening outside the palace, and so the events of the ending did not come completely by surprise. While I was reading, I adamantly did not want to read anything that was not Shahrzad and Khalid making eyes at each other (I really am turning into a sap), but in hindsight these ancillary characters really enriched the plot. It's a cardinal sin for authors to forget that a world exists outside their main character's view, and Ahdieh reminded me of why.

Overall, this was an exquisitely written novel, with an intriguing plot and a raw, beautiful romance. I would recommend this book to anyone who will listen, but especially if you want a novel in a different setting to the usual white kids in America, or if you want an angsty romance to dream about.

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

"The Goddess Test" (Goddess Test #1) by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test (Goddess Test, #1)The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly, this novel was a little disappointing. I have been on a bit of a YA mythology binge lately, and I have been astonished again and again by the original and beautiful stories I have been reading. The Goddess Test was a cute enough story, but there was nothing unique about it.

Books based on mythology are hard to get right - you need the perfect balance of traditional mythology aspects and new, modern twists. This novel, for me, felt like a lukewarm version of the original mythology, just set in modern times and without the really hardcore parts (like, you know, the ancient Greeks penchant for murder and deception). Even putting aside the mythology relation, I felt like I had read this story before in other YA novels. It had some pretty obvious tropes and all the 'twists' were predictable. Only one really shocked me, and that was who killed the previous girls.

I found parts of this novel very unrealistic. Like how easily Kate accepted that Henry's offer was genuine when he first made it. What 18-year-old reads the tale of Persephone after a strange man asks her to, brings it up with her high school friends, and then proceeds to believes it's real? I needed a little less credulity from Kate to make her more realistic.

I think that Carter has treated this novel as a prologue of sorts to the rest of series. Some of the characters felt unnecessary to the plot, and I hope she has just introduced them now for them to become more relevant later on. Characters like Ella, Irene, Walter, and Dylan seemed to have no purpose other than to fill out the mythology aspect of the plot (which is disappointing, as Ella and Irene are based on my favourite Greek goddesses). There were enough twists and turns in this novel to keep me reading, but if the second novel continues to feel like a prologue, I will be very disappointed.

Henry and Kate's romance was well done, as Carter did not try to force them into deep love moments after meeting. They started as friends, and despite eventually making their relationship romantic (not a spoiler, if you didn't see that coming you didn't read the blurb), she never makes them confess their undying love for each other. I particularly enjoyed the ending of this novel for that reason. While we are on it, I will be reading the second novel almost entirely because of the ending.

Overall, this was an average rendition of the traditional Greek tales, with interesting characters and a cute romance. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a quick and easy read with a fantasy bent, but definitely not to die-hard Greek mythology fans.

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

"Cruel Beauty" by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1)Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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I adored this book. It was a really quick read, partly because it was quite short and partly because I devoured it with an unmatched ferocity. Part Greek mythology, part Beauty and the Beast, this book was the perfect blend of traditional tales and new stories.

Nyx is definitely up there on my list of favourite YA heroines. I like that she is aware of the cruelty and selfishness in her heart, and although she tries to apologise for it, she eventually accepts that is a part of who she is. I prefer realistic heroines even in unrealistic worlds, and I think that Nyx's willingness to do things that are less than moral to satisfy both her selfish desires and her sense of duty was just about as real as you can get. Nyx is cruel and twisted, and why wouldn't she be? She's basically a lamb raised for slaughter, with nobody to mourn her. Having said this, she was still witty and sincere enough for me to love her. Nyx was the perfect anti-heroine to Ignifex's perfect anti-hero.

Speaking of Ignifex - I loved him. He was one part evil, one part good and all parts hilarious. I liked that he never really apologised for his cruel actions - he was the bad guy, and not worth saving (in his own words). But as he and Nyx grew to love one another, they both softened their hard edges and showed each other true kindness in their own way. Learning the truth behind Ignifex's character is bittersweet to say the least.

Perhaps my favourite part of this novel was that it wasn't obvious. I find myself guessing the endings of a lot of novels quite easily, and Cruel Beauty's story line and ending was so far from what I expected. If I could say anything about this novel, it would be that it is entirely and utterly unique - which is hard to do when you are writing a retelling. Hodge made me love her characters, her world and her story - I was enthralled from start to finish, and I'm not sure that I'll ever read a book quite like this one ever again.

Overall, I think Cruel Beauty used the best of traditional stories while adding its own unique twist, with its best quality being its three-dimensional characters, who you both love and hate. I would recommend this book to anyone who longs for something a little different after reading a tide of YA novels that are one in the same. The only thing that upsets me is that there won't be a sequel!

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Thursday, 17 December 2015

"Winter" (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Ahh, I have that strange feeling that happens when you reach the end of a good series. I powered through this book because I wanted to find out what happened, but at the same time I read slower than I could have because I did not want it to end. I'm happy I read it now, though. Winter was a great ending to such an interesting series.

I will preface this review by saying that Cinder still remains my favourite novel in this series. This is quite unusual for me, I can't think of a single other series where I have liked the first book the most. I think that this is the case in The Lunar Chronicles because the story was a lot more fluid in Cinder, owing to the fact that there was only one main character to follow. As much as I loved Winter, there are now four main characters, and four more almost main characters, all of whom have their own plots. A lot of things happened in this novel and it became a little confusing following who was currently teamed up with who, where they were etc. Having said that, I still enjoyed the overall plot, even if it was a little overwhelming at times.

Winter, as a character, was very interesting and enjoyable to read about. I enjoyed her parts of the novel the most, due to Meyer's unique portrayal of mental illness. Jacin telling her that having a mental illness did not mean she was broken was an especially beautiful moment. I wish Winter could have been involved in the story more in this novel, or even in earlier novels (I know that defeats the purpose of introducing her as a title character, but a girl can dream).

The ending of this novel wrapped everything up nicely, which is the best you can hope for in a much loved series like this. It left things open enough that it wasn't boring, though. It was a unique take on the perfect fairy tale ending - and, really, what could possibly suit this series any more?

Overall, this was a beautiful ending to a beloved series, with a brilliant and different portrayal of mental illness as its best feature. It's definitely worth savouring this one - which won't be hard considering it's a huge 823 pages long.

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Saturday, 12 December 2015

"All The Bright Places" by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually finished this book yesterday, but I needed some time to let myself recover. It was a very affecting and realistic portrayal of mental illness from two entirely different perspectives. I fell in love with this book, and it proceeded to break my heart into a thousand pieces - I spent at least half of it in tears (both happy and sad ones).

Niven created two complex and interesting characters who I wanted to read about. I did not necessarily like them both throughout the whole book, but I certainly wanted to know what happened next in their story. I appreciated Niven's respectful portrayal of both Finch and Violet's mental illnesses. Having known a few people in my life with bipolar disorder, I think the way Finch communicates is very realistic. And the way Violet describes going through the motions to satisfy people when she feels numb inside was very true to the experience of depression.

I loved the romantic aspects of this novel. It is so hard to find romance in YA novels that does not feel forced and fake these days. All the Bright Places really reminded me that when YA authors get romance right, they really get it right. We saw Violet and Finch in the early stages of their friendship, then as their feelings developed and eventually in their committed relationship - but Niven did not skip over any of these stages for convenience, she displayed them in all their raw glory. I truly felt that these two characters were in love. For this reason especially, the ending of this novel absolutely destroyed me.

The next two paragraphs contain SPOILERS - you have been warned!
Perhaps what I loved most about this novel is how it portrayed the two possible extremes of mental illness - death and recovery. Finch was clearly quite ill by the time we hear his story, and has an extremely damaging home life - and for this reason (as much is it hurt) I felt that committing suicide was true to his character. Violet, on the other hand, has only recently gotten a mental illness and has very supportive parents and (some) friends. For me, this really shows how our family and environment can facilitate or impair our recovery from mental illness.

The one thing that stopped me from giving this book 5 stars, however, was the nature of Violet's recovery. Although I think her eventual recovery is true to her character, I don't like that it portrays Finch as having 'cured' Violet of depression. I had this problem with My Heart and Other Black Holes as well. A supportive and loving partner can certainly help someone recover from mental illness, but they absolutely cannot cure depression.

Overall, this was a beautiful and poignant portrayal of mental illness. I wouldn't recommend this book to people who want novels that are all smiles and laughter, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants a novel about two genuinely interesting characters and how they overcome their struggles.

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Thursday, 10 December 2015

"The Iron Daughter" (The Iron Fey #2) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, #2)The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was about 3.5 stars for me. I had a lot of problems with it, but overall I was interested enough in the story to keep reading. It's hard for me to put into words how I felt about The Iron Daughter, but seeing as this is a review, I should probably try...

Probably the biggest thing that holds me back from loving this series is its lukewarm protagonist. Meghan is just so... beige. She basically has no direct involvement in the plot for a majority of the story. Sure, she gets that degree of 'special' from being Oberon's daughter - but when it comes down to actually doing things, Meghan always falls short. From fighting, to sneaking around, to finding what they need and where they need to go - it's always someone else (usually Puck or Ash) who does it, but rarely is it Meghan. It's hard to love a story when its protagonist is so passive.

The romance between Meghan and Ash continues to feel forced and unrealistic in The Iron Daughter. I'm sorry, I know there are legions of people who ship them hard, but I just don't feel it. Meghan's relationship with Puck seems much more legitimate, considering they have known each other for a while and thus understand each other better. Surely Ash is more mature (given that he is meant to be hundreds or even thousands of years old) than to confess his undying love after knowing Meghan for such a short time? Apparently not - the endings of both The Iron King and The Iron Daughter prove this. The ending of this novel, though exciting and wholly unexpected, made no sense when you consider the characters involved. I won't reveal what happened because spoilers, but let's just say I don't think it fits into who Ash is as a character.

Having said this, there were elements of this story that I enjoyed. Kagawa introduced some intriguing new characters into the mix, as well as giving more book space to smaller characters from The Iron King - Ironhorse, Virus and Leanansidhe come to mind. I really liked the introduction of Leanansidhe in this novel. She was an interesting character, who's backstory and intentions I would like to learn more about in future novels. I would especially love to see her face off with Titania - that would be the fight of the century. Ironhorse was my favourite character overall, though - he had a lot of passion and power in this book.

I also really like Kagawa's writing style. There were parts of this novel in which the story itself was not gripping me, but Kagawa's 'epic storyteller' tone kept me reading. This tone makes everything sound like an epic adventure - even if it really wasn't. It's also clear that world-building is a true strength of Kagawa's - I never found myself questioning whether the Nevernever or the Iron Fey were real. I really hope this continues through to the next novel. This world-building and her storyteller tone were ultimately what saved The Iron Daughter for me.

Overall, this was a fair sequel to The Iron King, with an unique take on fey mythology and an interesting story overall.

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Monday, 7 December 2015

"Shadow Kiss" (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3)Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Shadow Kiss was a deliciously addictive novel that I could not put down. I have devoured the first three books of this series in a kind of manic fervor because they are so damn addictive. This book was so, so close to getting 5 stars from me, but I held back for reasons I will elaborate on later in this review.

Okay, if Rose Hathaway didn't already make my list of favourite YA heroines in Frostbite, she firmly cemented her spot in this novel. Rose is Badass with a capital B. Seeing her struggle with supernatural style mental illness and romantic woes broke my heart, and it's been a long time since I cared so much about a protagonist. I also loved that Rose took a stand for herself in this book - none of this "Moroi come first" business. Rose needs to take some time for herself and address the things that are important to her. Lissa is important, but so is Rose!

One of my favourite things about Shadow Kiss was how Mead changed the way she discussed the idea of "blood whores". I remember being taken aback in Vampire Academy by how derogatory this term seemed, and how Rose just agreed with it. Then I realised, that's how we are raised to think of real-life women in similar scenarios - and we see Rose change the thought process she has always used with this issue as she grows, which is admirable. Through the past three books, Mead has shown Rose's maturity develop as she lets go (somewhat) of these old prejudices. Ambrose and Dimitri's family make Rose think twice about what it means to be a dhampir - and that maybe raising kids or having kinky sex is not really that bad.

As I said in my review of Vampire Academy, I felt like this series was going to be a non-stop soap opera. Whilst this was definitely true of the first book, I think Shadow Kiss had more political and social justice aspects. Seeing the court in action, and seeing the divide between dhampirs and Moroi, provided much-appreciated insight into Moroi society. Having said this, it never lost the gripping personal drama and action that made it so intriguing to start with. It is hard to strike such a balance, so kudos to Mead for keeping me sated on both fronts.

The ending of this novel was really what stopped me giving it 5 stars. Whilst I can understand why Mead chose this ending, (view spoiler) The only time this really works is when romance is not the central theme in a book - and let's face it, romance is a pretty big part of this series.

Overall, this was the best book in the Vampire Academy series thus far. It had a kickass protagonist, thrilling action and beautiful romance - all with vampires! What more could you want?
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Sunday, 6 December 2015

"Frostbite" (Vampire Academy #2) by Richelle Mead

Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2)Frostbite by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why did I wait so long to read this series? I am officially hooked - about halfway through this novel, I ran to the shops to buy the next three. It's one of those series.

Although I would argue that most parts of this book were amazing, my favourite part of Frostbite was easily the Rose's character development. She was tough as nails and hilarious in Vampire Academy, but in Frostbite she gains some much needed maturity. Rose really takes charge and shows what a genuinely good guardian she is going to make, and she did that all without Lissa being in danger. It's one thing to protect Lissa because she's both Rose's best friend and bonded Moroi, but to take charge like she did when Lissa was not around was truly amazing. I am in awe of her, and Rose is now firmly added to my list of favourite YA heroines.

Vampire Academy definitely had a soap opera-esque feel to it, which was lost in Frostbite. Whilst I did love this feel in the first novel, I think moving away from it definitely benefited Rose and the other characters overall. Frostbite had much more action, and since it was no longer set in a high school, the characters seemed much more mature. Leaving the school also had the added benefit of allowing a greater understanding of the Moroi/Dhampir/Strogoi world and culture.

There were some intriguing new characters in Frostbite: Adrian, Tasha and Janine to name a few. Seeing how they melded into Rose's world in their own unique ways was beautiful (did anyone else get teary over Rose and her mother near the end of the novel?) Adrian and Mason both provided a flirty distraction from the ever-present and ever-gorgeous Dimitri - something I both appreciated and hated. I definitely understand why this happened - it was necessary to let Rose spread her wings without Dimitri, but damn did I miss his beautiful face throughout this novel.

Speaking of things I missed in this novel, where was Lissa? She was barely in this novel at all, and I think that is what stopped me giving it 5 stars. Whilst I loved and enjoyed Rose developing on her own, one of my favourite parts of Vampire Academy was Lissa's experience with magic and also depression. In Frostbite she is really only a cursory character. I hope she will appear more in Shadow Kiss.

Overall, this was a strong second installment in an insanely addictive series. Definitely worth the read if you were a fan of Vampire Academy, or just of vampire fiction in general.

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Friday, 4 December 2015

"A Court of Thorns and Roses" (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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I love Sarah J. Maas, and for that reason I was a little tentative going into this novel, because I thought it may be too similar to the Throne of Glass series - but I could not have been further from the truth. Maas, you can do no wrong. I was so obsessed with this novel, I found it hard to concentrate on my holiday, because I just wanted to keep reading. It's one of those stories that gets you so invested you just have to know what is going to happen next.

I know that edge-of-your-seat page-turner books don't just happen by chance - they happen through great writing. Maas really built a believable and intricate world, a world that I genuinely felt like I was living in when I read A Court of Thorns and Roses. I definitely believe that epic fantasy novels need a believable world to work at all, and this one absolutely had that. I got lost in Feyre's human life, as well as her life among the fae - beautiful descriptions of both the places and their customs ensured this. I am a huge fan of Maas' previous series, but this novel went above and beyond even that series in world-building terms.

The characters in this novel were all complex and multi-layered. A lot of books based in fae mythology tend to get bogged down with excessive details and ridiculous amounts of fairy species. Luckily, this was avoided by A Court of Thorns and Roses completely. I was also a tad worried to start with that Tamlin would be too similar to Rowan from Heir of Fire, and although there were definitely parallels, the two characters stand on their own. No character felt external or superfluous to the story line, and even the morally questionable characters were somewhat sympathetic and extremely interesting (is Rhysand anyone else's favourite character?) Feyre was equal parts likable and realistic - a good combination for a protagonist. I did not love her as much as Celaena from the Throne of Glass series, but she was a strong and interesting character nonetheless.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was the perfect balance of action, mythology and romance. Speaking of which, I adored the main romance plot of this novel. As you know, it is based on Beauty and the Beast, which is a story I have long adored. The romance in this novel strongly resembles its fairy tale predecessor; there are very few surprises where the relationship is concerned (at least, early on). One thing I feel I must mention is how sex positive this novel is. I am a strong proponent of sex in YA novels (think tasteful scenes, not erotica), because it is realistic. Not every girl is a virgin, and not every couple holds hands for five years before taking things further. I love that Maas included a more sexual component to her novel, whilst keeping it limited enough so that it did not seem central to the plot.

Overall, this was a gripping and unique story with an interesting take on fae mythology. It is distinct from Maas' previous series, but with her customary beautiful writing style and kickass characters. I would recommend this book to practically anyone who could get their hands on it!

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"Vampire Academy" (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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The title of this book is so misleading. I have stumbled past this book so many times in the past because I kept thinking “wow, what a tacky title”… that may partially explain why I am so late to the party with this series. Anyway, ignore the title, this is easy YA vampire fiction at its best. Now, I am not saying that this is the next Austen or Bronte novel – but it is one of those addictive page turners that you will not be able to put down! I think I read the entire book in four hours.

Rose Hathaway is a great protagonist – sassy, hilarious and fiercely loyal. She was likeable enough to evoke sympathy, and badass enough for me not to find her boring. Her friendship with Lissa is interesting (how much is their friendship based on the bond, and how much is genuine?), and I especially enjoyed that we could see things from Lissa’s perspective without changing narrator.

I have found a YA novel that has believable romance in it! Hurrah! I was starting to think they were extinct. I loved both the main couples in Vampire Academy. I love star-crossed lovers (I know, it’s such an overused trope, sue me), and so Rose and Dimitri really hit me hard. There’s one scene near the end of the book that almost killed me, so fellow shippers can look forward to that. I also spent the entire novel hoping that Lissa and Christian would get together – two great romances for the price of one! I love it.

Vampire Academy definitely felt like a soap opera at times, but in the best possible ways. There was drama around every corner, but unlike a soap opera I never found myself saying “OH COME ON, LIKE THAT WOULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN!” It’s action-packed, fast-paced and really indulgent, which makes it especially frustrating that the ratings go down as the series progresses. It’s like the chocolate mudcake of YA fiction – you know it’s bad for you, you know you’ll probably regret it, but gees it feels so good while you’re eating it.

The only thing that stopped this novel from reaching five stars for me, was that it felt like it was a "set-up" novel for the rest of the series. I hope that just means I will enjoy the rest of the books even more!

Overall, Vampire Academy was a wonderful example of genuine YA romance and a unique twist on traditional vampire mythology. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a quick read with interesting characters and a different take on vampire lore.

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