Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović

Huge thank you to Harper360 for sending me a copy of Wicked Like a Wildfire!

This book has been on my TBR for a loooong time – sibling dynamics, witches that can manipulate beauty, a family curse and set in the Balkans (plus, I have to say, that cover), what’s not to love? I’m glad to say that Wicked Like a Wildfire did not disappoint!

wlawf

WLAW follows twins, Iris and Malina, living with their mother in old town Cattaro (Kotor) in Montenegro. Their family passes down a gleam –  a way of manipulating magic – which manifests differently in each woman. Iris can manipulate flowers into fractals, Malina senses moods through song, and their mother Jasmina can bake memories into flavours. Since the girls were young, Jasmina has told them that the three of them are the last of their family, and that it’s not only important to keep their magic a secret, but also vital that they never fall in love. However, when Jasmina is attacked the day after a mysterious stranger who shares their light grey eyes visits their bakery, Iris and Malina must uncover Jasmina’s secrets, and unravel the family curse that they stumble upon when discovering that Jasmina may not have been entirely truthful about her origins.

wlawf2

First off, I have to say, I absolutely flew through this book! I’ve been in quite a big reading slump over the past few weeks, and WLAW was such a magical, refreshing read, I couldn’t put it down. I adored the setting – having visited some Balkan countries before, I was really interested to read more about folklore from the area, and frankly, I now really want to go to Montenegro at some point! Popović’s choice to include aspects from her Serbian heritage definitely made this book for me, and Montenegro was the perfect magical setting for such a story.

Alongside the setting and world building, I adored the characters. I definitely felt more connected to Iris, since the book was written from her point of view, but I loved reading how different the two girls were – Iris’s tough exterior compared to Malina’s softer personality really complemented each other, and Iris’s constant need to protect Malina fit perfectly with the rest of the book. I have to say, one thing that really stood out to me was Iris’s openness when talking about sex – this is something that I found really refreshing, especially in a YA book. I think it’s so important that talking about sex without the sense of shame or taboo is normalised in YA. However, I don’t think the low key slut shaming that Jasmina often directed towards Iris, in terms of her dress sense and her casual way with guys, was necessary.

Anyway, I absolutely love sister-stories (probably because I got stuck with two brothers) and as much as I loved Iris, I’m definitely hoping for book two to be from Malina’s POV!

wlawf3

I have to say, I’m a huge wimp when it comes to anything even slightly scary, and parts of this book definitely creeped me out a bit, but as with everything else, this just added to the overall mysticism of the story. The way the family curse tied in with the local folklore tales worked so well, and I definitely didn’t expect that ending at all! I can’t say much else without revealing huge spoilers, but I’m in desperate need of book two right now – I have to know what happens next.

Overall, for me, Wicked Like a Wildfire was made by the relationships throughout it – not only Iris and Malina’s sisterly bond, but also Iris and Jasmina’s strained relationship which is a key focus that’s constantly developing throughout the entire book, the bonds of family members throughout generations, and there’s also a really cute f/f relationship! This was the perfect magical sisterhood book, and I am so excited to read Fierce Like a Firestorm after that plot twist filled ending. I’d definitely recommend picking up this book!

wlawf4

 

Love Becky @
signature

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Blog Tour – ‘My Favourite Literary Villains’

As soon as I came across Wintersong online, I knew I had to get hold of a copy ASAP. Marketed as being a loose retelling of Labyrinth (one of mine and my husband’s favourite films) aimed at a more mature audience, I couldn’t wait to read this, and was thrilled to not only receive an ARC of it but also be able to be a part of the blog tour! Wintersong was released yesterday and I would highly encourage you all to go and pick up a copy.

Today, I’ll be sharing with you a little insight into the mind of S. Jae-Jones (aka. JJ), author of Wintersong, on a topic close to my heart – favourite literary villains.

{PS. Don’t forget to take a look at the first two posts of the Wintersong blog tour: Day One & Day Two can be found here. If you’d like to follow along, all blogs included in this tour are to the left!}

+ + + + + + + +

I love a good villain; so much so that I love reading books or watching movies told from the villain’s point of view, like The Mists of Avalon or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. For me, a good literary villain is complex, with motivations that are understandable or even sympathetic enough to be chilling. The following are a few of my favorites:
Melisande Shahrizai from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series
Melisande is one of my favorite characters full stop. What I love most about her is that she isn’t driven by evil or megalomania; she’s a villain because she likes to play games. The prize she’s set for herself is the throne of Terre d’Ange. Matching wits with Melisande is like playing against a chessmaster; she’s always several moves ahead. Yet despite her cool, calculating mind, she’s rather a good sport, acknowledging when she’s been beaten at her own game. There’s no active malice in Melisande, but she is completely terrifying nonetheless, and I love that about her.
The Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha books
The Darkling could have easily been the tortured romantic hero in a different series. He’s brooding, he’s tortured, he’s vulnerable, and he’s so, so broken. Yet despite all this, he’s still a selfish, horrible person, and I love that Bardugo resists softening the Darkling’s edges to make him a palatable potential love interest for Alina. I love the Darkling because he’s all wrong, and I love that I love he’s all wrong.

Mrs. Coulter from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
There is a common thread through nearly all my favorite female villains: they are evil in their subtlety and complexity. Mrs. Coulter fascinates me because she’s amoral and completely selfish, yet also charming and charismatic. Even her love for her daughter seems to be an extension of her selfishness. Despite this, despite an entire life lived for power, she commits an act of ultimate selflessness, and this dissonance is what makes Marisa Coulter an amazing villain.
Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter

I will admit that some of my visceral reaction to Dolores Umbridge is personal. I was educated at an all-girls’ school, and for my first three years, I had a very McGonagall-like headmistress (down to the tartan print!). But in my final year, we had a new headmistress when the previous one retired, and this new one was Umbridge-like in every possible way: a toad-like face, affected girlish voice, and a saccharine manner disguising a terrifying authoritarian philosophy. I think we all know an Umbridge, and the fact that she actually exists in the real world in some form or another is the most terrifying thing of all.

+ + + + + + + +



All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen, Liesl feels that her childhood dreams are slipping away. And when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. But with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Published 7th February 2017 from Titan Books


Read my full review of Wintersong here!



+ + + + + + + +


S. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including TwitterTumblrFacebookInstagram and her blog. Wintersong is her debut novel.



+

love Becky @


The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

Through my endless stream of tears shall I attempt to write a decent review. I have only recently heard of the Young Elites series and it was only last week that I bought the trilogy. I read them within three days – I have been obsessed. Although I was only in this world for a short amount of time, I will sincerely miss the characters, especially Adelina. I instantly fell in love with this world, the characters and the plots of all three books. It is unlike any YA series I’ve read before as it’s narrated primarily by the antihero. It’s marketed as a dark fantasy and it is exactly that and Adelina as a main character completely blew me away. I went into the first novel thinking she was just another YA character who finds out she’s special and joins this group of people and they all become best friends and save the world. Nope. I was far from right. 

The Midnight Star takes place around a year after the previous book and Adelina has been a ruthless and cruel Queen, believing she must rule with fear and pain. Both Magiano and Sergio are by her side but her sister, Violetta has fled to join the daggers and beg them to help Adelina. Adelina and her Inquisitors have conquered countless cities, executed countless traitors and banned the term malfettos but countless attempts are made at Adelina’s life. In this part of the book, you feel as though you should hate Adelina but despite everything, she still manages to inspire empathy in the reader. Her power is rapidly making her lose control of her thoughts and illusions and she is constantly tormented by voices in her head. However, her goal remains the same, to conquer and put fear in her enemies’ hearts, including the Daggers – that is until Rafaelle contacts her. It seems the old friends must put aside their differences and help close the portal between their world and the Underworld before it destroys everything and the only way to do that is to sacrifice their powers.
My favourite thing in novels is when a bunch of the characters have to come together against a threat (Six of Crows etc.) I’ve always loved this over solo missions with the main character. Adelina joining with the Daggers, alongside her crew and Queen Maeve and even Teren. I was so here for it. Teren went from a character I despised to a character who had a whole new side – just a boy who was forced to think of himself as an abomination driven mad by the idea he had to destroy others like himself. I’m not excusing his previous acts but this book gives him a whole new side, a step towards a redemption arc. We saw more into the budding relationships between Adelina and Magiano, Sergio and Violetta and Maeve and Lucent. If I wasn’t so scared of what was going to happen in this book, the lovey-dovey stuff would have melted me. 
In the space of this novel, Adelina goes through so much character development, she just tore my heart into pieces. If we take away the murderous tendencies, I see a lot of myself in Adelina. Half of the time you want to slap her and the other half you want to wrap her in blankets and reassure her. She spends the whole novel having intrusive thoughts, thinking everyone is against her and wants her dead and because of this, she tries keeping everyone at arm’s length. However, the White Wolf’s heart is ultimately good and just shrouded in darkness – she wants to be loved and accepted. She even becomes jealous when Queen Maeve’s men salute her and won’t leave without her. I feel proud of Adelina at the end of this series and happy that I got to meet her. 
That brings me to the ending – I didn’t like it. I must admit, at first I was okay with it and then a day passed and I became angry. Angry that one of my favourite fictional characters ended up the way they did, that everything they went through came to nothing. Not just this character in particular, but I wanted to hear more about the other characters more than just how their appearances changed. I know that death in literature is the same as death in life – it’s unfair, it doesn’t have to have a meaning but I felt as though this was just rushed and it could have ended better if the book had been longer. It’s rare that a YA series finishes the way I want it to and this is no exception but I still respect the author’s decision and this was still a truly amazing trilogy that blows so many YA work out of the water. It is dark, gripping and exciting and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Love,