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I’m Down on My Knees

Although hot paranormal creatures are still totally her bag, Mandy C.’s worried mind wasn’t eased by the too-familiar plot of Nikki Kelly’s Lailah.

I’m Down on My Knees

BOOK REPORT for Lailah (The Styclar Saga #1) by Nikki Kelly

Cover Story: Performance Art
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Put Down the Thesaurus
Anti-Bonus Factor: Shades of Twilight
Relationship Status: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Cover Story: Performance Art

The lights dim. Slowly, dark shapes make their way toward the center of the stage. They gather in a circle, and raise their arms skyward. Suddenly, a girl pops up from in between them, striking a pose reminiscent of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Her arms move to wrap around her body protectively, and she looks skyward as a spotlight strikes her brow. Offstage, drums start beating faster and faster and faster as the performers below the woman start to writhe like snakes. As the music reaches a fever pitch, the girl raises her arms, grasping for the light, but the arms pull her down into the darkness.

The audience goes wild as the curtain falls.

The Deal:

Francesca doesn’t have anyone in her life; at least, anyone that she can remember. She survives on the good graces of others, part-time jobs, and squatting in abandoned homes in small villages across England. It’s not the best life, but it’s the one she—with a questionable past and no real plan for the future—has.

Until she saves the life of a (beautiful) vampire one night, and is thrust into a battle between good and evil she didn’t know existed. And until she comes face to face with a (beautiful) angel, someone she remembers, but can’t quite remember how.

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

At first, I felt bad for Francesca. She had no real home, no family, no friends and a very confusing past. But even after learning more about who she was, she didn’t get that much better. For example: She says she doesn’t want a handout, but she lets someone spend thousands of dollars on new clothes, and she’s barely even grateful. She’s also super oblivious to certain situations, and a little too “woe is me” for my tastes.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Although Francesca has two guys—unattainably hot, paranormal guys, natch—lusting after her from the very first chapter of the book, the majority of the swoon in the book can be described thusly:

It’s frustrating, to say the least. And by the time anything good happens, it’s like, yawn.

Talky Talk: Put Down the Thesaurus

I can deal with a book that uses larger words. I do hold an English degree, which means I’ve spent my fair share of time around dictionaries and their ilk. (Not bragging, mind you, just stating a fact.) Sadly, Nikki Kelly uses a lot of “thesaurus words” in Lailah, and they don’t make the writing sound more intelligent. In fact, they’re just super distracting. I lost count of the number of times she used the word “orbs” instead of eyes, and there were numerous times when the main character referred to her body as “my form.”

Anti-Bonus Factor: Shades of Twilight

I will be the first to admit that I loved Twilight back in the early days of the series’ popularity. Long story short: It led me back to re-finding my love of YA. That said, when a book features two paranormal creatures fighting over the love of a “mortal;” a group of beautiful, immortal creatures living a life of luxury in a huge house set away from the prying eyes of the townspeople; an older, menacing creature who wants said mortal for his own use; and—for Cullens’ sake—a beat-up old truck, I can’t help but roll my eyes. I mean, there’s even a vampire with a short haircut who loves shopping and drives a little yellow car.

Casting Call:

Teresa Palmer as Francesca

Dean Geyer as Jonah

Alan Ritchson as Gabriel

Relationship Status: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Admittedly (see “Shades of Twilight” above), I’m a fan of some not so great literature, Book, but there’s guilty pleasure reading, and then there’s reading that, well, feels like work. I’m sure you had a fun story to tell, but you spent so long trying to impress me with your intelligence, and you so often reminded me of something I’ve read before (more than once), that I just don’t think we’re going to work out.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Feiwel & Friends. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Lailah is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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