Sunday, February 24, 2013

Arty -- Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Let's get the new year (or the closest chronological thing to it) of reviews started off with a bang - in other words, a rant!

Aislinn (don't ask me how to pronounce it - I'm not proficient in Irish or Celtic or Gaelic or whatever it is pronunciation - I'm guessing like Ashlyn because her nickname is Ash) has the Sight - in other words, she can see faeries.  She pretends she doesn't see them because they don't know she can, and she doesn't want them or other humans to know of her ability.  But poor Aislinn is tormented by this knowledge and her entire existence seems to be one of victimization and misery at hiding her true self.

But hark!  A hot faerie approaches!  Seriously, he is hot - he's Keenan, the faerie Summer King.  And he thinks Aislinn is destined to be his Summer Queen.  Because of a 'feeling' and 'dreams' that have apparently gotten a lot of other girls kicked out in the cold - in other words, reduced to miserable Winter Girls, each successive Winter Girl having the duty of warning Keenan's next victim not to trust him.

Cue a tug-of-war between Aislinn, Keenan, Donia (the current Winter Girl who's still in love with Keenan), and Berea (I think her name is Berea), Keenan's mother and the current wicked Winter Queen.  It's not as dramatic as it sounds - mostly it's just Aislinn running away and being blah and hiding out at totally-not-her-boyfriend Seth's house.  And Keenan moping.  And Donia moping.  And Berea plotting.

I do have to say that it started out really good.  I was interested.  I was hopeful for something more interesting than your typical YA paranormal romance.  Seth, despite being in high school, lives alone, drinks tea, has tons of piercings, and keeps a boa constrictor.  He was cool at first.  Original.  Aislinn was moderately interesting and not too whiny.  Donia and Keenan had good personalities.

At first.

Oh good story of faeries and intrigue and Court angst.  You disappeared into a pile of teen angst, shaky characterization, and an exponentially growing number of wearisome plot devices.

The characters started to dissolve about a third of the way through.  There's a feeling you get when you have a firm grasp on a character, who they are and how they work.  None of the characters ever got that feeling - or, if they had it, it was for a few short chapters and then they lost it.  The only character who was halfway consistent was Berea, and that was because she was a cackling villainess who was there to hurt people and enjoy doing it for no particular reason.

There was one plot twist that I didn't see coming and that I appreciated - it would give away major spoilers if I wrote it out, but let's just say Marr didn't fall into the tired old love triangle bit, at least not fully.  It was just that by the time came to unleash the plot twist, I just didn't give a rip.  Everyone was boring.  Not unlikeable, per se, but just... blah.  Who cares that some faerie-human lady loves some faerie dude who wants some human girl who loves some mortal guy and they're all trying to be killed by some evil faerie queen?  Marr gave me no reason to care.

The prose was nice, there were regular sprinklings of originality, and the cover is absolutely gorgeous, but there's just not enough good here to warrant a recommendation.  In the end, the execution of the story is just as bland as the cover is beautiful.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Arty -- Books of 2012

Hi.  Arty here.

I am the reason why this is painfully late.  Yes.  Tomatoes are provided at the door; I'll be waiting over by those stocks.  Plaster me with as many veggie-fruit-delectable-spheres-of-red-deliciousness as you want.  I DESERVE IT. #dramallama

Seriously, I had an insane January (I WENT TO KANSAS) and then it seems I've been halfway ill all through February.  None of which are very good excuses.  But I take them where I can get 'em, right?  Just... know that Persy did hers on time and I failed as miserably as a piece of charcoal trying to learn astrophysics. (Or as miserably as that simile did.)

Okay.  If my Goodreads stat thing is to be trusted (I failed miserably at cataloging my books near the tail end of December; I chalk it up to running a business) I read 240 books in 2012!  Not bad!  I mean, my goal was 250, but ten behind is not bad at all, especially considering the almost complete lack of reading I did in the autumn months.  So yeah.  A pat on the back for me.

The first book I read in 2012 was Fruits Basket #16 (go manga!) and the last book I read was... wait.  Well.  The last book I have recorded for December was The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle. (We're just going to pretend that I surely read something between December 14th and the next book I read on January 6th this year.)

Now.  Onto my BEST BOOKS OF 2012.  I'm going to try to keep it down to fourteen.  We'll see about that!

The Fruits Basket manga by Natsumi Takaya.  Yeah, guys, I know it's so cheesy and so cutesty but - but - but it's just amazing anyhow.  The characters.  The art.  AAHHH.  It makes me happy inside and that's what counts, right?  Manga.

The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan.  I've read the first half or so of this series multiple times, but I'm adding it here because I finished the series in 2012.  And it just deserves to have its name in bold.  The plots continually get a little less fantastic but it's the characters that give this series a place on Jon (my Extra Super Tiggerific Favoritesness Bookshelf Whose Title Keeps Changing Because I Can't Remember It).  Fantasy.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  SYDNEY. FREAKING. CARTON.  S'all I have to say except that it made me cry in front of my family.  Not many books can do that.  A classic well-deserving of its title.  Classic.

A Tale Dark And Grimm by Adam Gidwitz.  A super-easy read combining a lot of fairytales so that Hansel and Gretel are the main characters, this was a clever, totally entertaining fairytale mashup that I need to reread at least once a year.  Fantasy.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  If you read my review on it, you'll probably remember my mixed emotions for this book.  But when just the thought of reading a book like The Night Circus gives you twirly butterfly flutters in your stomach, I think it deserves a place on the AAHHH TWO-THOUSAND-TWELVE BOOKS OF AWESOME list.  Urban fantasy. (?)

The Genius series by Catherine Jinks.  Continually amazing, continually heartbreaking, continually (in a small way) thought-provoking, and finally throw-the-book-at-the-wall worthy, these books also have a proud place on Jon.  (No idea how to categorize these.  Urban sci-fi?)

Swear To Howdy by Wendelin Van Draanen.  Van Draanen of Sammy Keyes fame can write no wrong.  Tiny book, huge impact.  Read it.  Genreless.

Runemarks by Joanne Harris.  A huge book with a huge fantastical story with the huge Norse gods.  I read this when I was in the throes of my Norse obsession, which has by now faded somewhat, but thinking about it still makes me go SQUEEEEEEEEEE.  In a totally rational way, of course.  Fantasy.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  Shiver.  That's the best way I can put it.  Disturbing, fascinating, thought-tugging... another classic that deserves to be called such.  Classic.

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer.  Another quick genreless read, it's possibly even better than Swear To Howdy.  Hope (I reiterate) is one of the best heroines I've ever read.  Genreless.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.  It's a bit of a slow start but once you get reading... WOW.  Things just keep unfolding and unfolding until it ends in this suck-your-breath-out-of-your-tubes finale.  (Not sure how to categorize this one either.  Urban... science... fantasy...?)

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.  Dark, depressing, heartbreaking... not how you think you'd classify a book narrated by Tinker Bell.  But this Peter Pan reimagining is just fantastic anyhow.  Fantasy.

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst.  Desert gods instead of Norse or Celtic make this book a lot more entertaining than most.  I liked the heroine, and the love subplot was superbly handled.  Durst makes me a happy reader.  Fantasy.

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle.  A thoroughly original and completely enthralling look at trolls, elves, and the fey world in general.  Marrak is a fantastic love interest-slash-villain, Kate is a great heroine, and the relationship building between all of the characters just... makes me happy.  Historical fantasy.

I also need to have a list of series that I finished in 2012, even if they were started in 2011 or prior.

-Incarceron and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher.  Holy molehills of amazing prose and characters.  READ THEM.

-The Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White.  Fluffy YA paranormal romance, but I daresay they're worth reading anyhow.

-The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley.  I've been reading these for at least three years and I still love them, cheesy or no.  The last book was a bit of a letdown but the last couple chapters made up for it completely and totally.

-The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.  IT'S OVER.  MY GOSH IT'S OVER.  It went out with a bang.  I love you, Artemis.  Colfer: you'd better have a series spinoff planned.  TAKE MY MONEY.

-The Theatre Illuminata series by Lisa Mantchev.  So Silver Bright was a lovely end to a rather shapeless, oft confusing, but still beautiful trilogy populated by amazing characters.

-And, of course, the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.  I wrote a whole blogpost on why I love the series while ever mindful of its various and sundry weaknesses.  Paolini, though well-versed in the art of disappointment, didn't fail to leave me satisfied on the shores of Alagaesia.

(I'm sneaking in another plug for my favorite trilogy of all time, which I reread in 2012 - The Books of Umber by P.W. Catanese.  Seriously.  I can't come up with enough synonyms for BLINKING FANTASTIC to suit these books.  They're God's gift to bookworms.  Read them.)

And here are some Honorable Mentions.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer; The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith; Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan; The Cocktail Party by T.S. Eliot; Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green; Wonder by R.J. Palacio; The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman; The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner; The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks; The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner; A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde; To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee; The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby; The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones; and Quicksilver by Stephanie Spinner.

And now my other favorite part.  THE BAD EGGS.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  Classic.  History book.  Two terms that never go well together.  This book was written as propaganda and it shows, gods, it shows.  (Sorry, Persy.)  I call emotional blackmail.  Classic.

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling.  Again, apologies for any stepped-on toes, but this book was just one boring blah.  I'm not really a fan of Kipling, anyhow.  Classic.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  Cool concept, bro; needs actual character development and writing skills behind it.  Though the photos were spiffy.  Fantasy.

No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt.  DEPRESSION.  I don't even remember what happened in this book, just that none of it was good.  Everyone is miserable.  The end.  Historical/youth.

A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn.  Flinn was pushing the boundaries of unlikable with Beastly but this one just skipped over the line and went sailing into the sea of stupidity.  A more applicable simile might be that it was on a south-bound roller coaster - it just kept getting worse.  Fantasy/fairytale.

The first two Infernal Devices books by Cassandra Clare.  Clare.  You are recycling the already annoying characters of Mortal Instruments and making them EVEN MORE ANNOYING.  Historical fantasy.

And the poor sad Dishonorable Mentions, not even bad enough to get a rant or caps or anything.

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke; Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai; Worldshaker by Richard Harland; The Alchemist and the Angel by Joanne Owen; The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong; the first two Everworld books by Katherine Applegate; The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig; Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin; and Behind the Gates by Eva Gray.

And that was 2012!  Here's to a new year of plundering libraries, finding new favorites, and reading those hilarious one-star reviews of books that always have funny gifs to illustrate the review-writer's hatred!