The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle, #1) ~ Book Review

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“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Book Info:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Format & Pages: Hardcover, 408

Published: September 28, 2012, by Scholastic Press

Source: Providence Public Libraries

Will I Buy It? Yes.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a breathtakingly horrific masterpiece of a story. I loved every freaking word of it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the way that the ‘fated romance’ did NOT make it’s way into the story so much that it took over the plot. It was a shocking reminder every now and then, but I got much more caught up in the search for a lost magical currency called a ley line. It was fascinating and creepy. Smashed in skeletons and sacrifices and haunting… I did get scared a few times. Which was really cool! I haven’t gotten really freaked from a book in SUCH a long time, and I guess I missed it.

A lot of people have had difficulty getting through this one, because there isn’t a lot of action and the writing is quite slow paced. But I absolutely flew through it and devoured every sentence. I liked the way the tension and twists were built up… it was a refreshing change from the usual violence and sudden surprises.

There were about five main characters in this book, so I think I’ll devote a quick paragraph to each one:

Blue Sargent:

imageBlue was such a cute person. Everything she said and did was so quirky and intelligent. Her name was strangely perfect for her… I never thought of a color as a legitimate name until now. She played a crucial role in the story, and somehow managed to enhance the Raven Boys’ personalities.

Richard Gansey:

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Gansey was funny and intense on his purpose. He made for a great character. He was at once an obsessed searcher and an edgy highschooler. In a way, he was like Two-Face from Batman… but a lot less insane. I enjoyed Blue’s fascinatinon with him.

Adam Parrish:

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Adam was just so sad. An abusive father, an impoverished life the ending! I seriously almost started crying. I’m sure my eyes would’ve been pouring tears, but it’s hard for me to physically express my emotions while reading. And the worst part was that he was Blue’s original love interest, and she kinda tossed him around while thinking of Gansey. But he was so perfect for her!

Ronan Lynch:

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I didn’t really understand Ronan. He was a moody, angry Irish guy who didn’t really add much to the story. However, he was the most appealing of the Raven Boys to me, because he obviously could be nice. When he took in that abandoned raven baby, I warmed up all over.

Noah Czerny:

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Noah was fabulous. No spoilers, but he was the most horrifying part of the story. The way Maggie Stiefvater managed to twist him in there in the most appaling ways was incredible.

This series will definitely be a new favorite in my collection. For the first taste I’ve had of Maggie Stiefvater, I’ve come away with a very good impression. Her style is unique and her plots are unheard of! I am definitely ordering the next book, The Dream Thieves, right away.

IMG_1091Buy this Book!

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Maggie Stiefvater has been a wedding musician, a technical editor, a portrait artist, and, for several fraught weeks, a waitress. She plays several musical instruments (most infamously, the bagpipes), she still makes art, and she recently acquired and unacquired a race car. Visit her online.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith ~ Review

I’m going to be challenging myself once every week to read a book under 300 pages long, and then write a 300-words or less ‘mini review’. This is a personal challenge, but for anyone else who’d like to give this a go on their blog, please use the tag ‘minireviewsweekly’. Thanks!

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Book Info:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Format & Pages: Hardcover, 236\

Published: January 2nd 2012, by Poppy/Little Brown

Source: Providence Public Libraries

This book, as a whole, felt empty. I was expecting something cute and funny and quick. Instead, I got a depressed girl with claustrophobia and daddy issues who meets a hot, quirky English guy named Oliver at an airport and proceeds to form a ‘sort-of’ relationship with him when they get on a flight together. He’s clearly interested in her, but she doesn’t give him her number or address and proceeds to lose him at her destination. Then she breaks down at her dad’s second wedding, goes and finds the English guy at his dad’s funeral, and once again does not exchange contact info with him. After all, a symbolic book left on his car should be enough, right? Luckily for her, he figured out where the wedding was. She quickly fixes up her problems with her dad in time for a nice ending, and they all live happily ever after.

Can you see how this could leave you unsatisfied?

I did not like Hadley. I just couldn’t empathize with her. She seemed like a bit of a jerk. Oliver was very cute, but why would he like Hadley? I didn’t reallysee any chemistry between them. Hadley’s dad was obviously a complete ***, despite all his kindly actions. Hadley’s mom was obviously lovely, but for some reason Hadley couldn’t take that.

Honestly, I would’ve read an entire book about how Oliver helped Hadley out while they were flying, since she had claustrophobia. That was the cutest scene. And I think an author could legitimately write a book about some chick on a seven-hour-flight with a handsome guy, who’s also adorably considerate and thoughtful.

But this just wasn’t enjoyable.

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Buy this Book!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Book Review

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Around the world, black handprints are showing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Book Info:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Format & Pages: Hardcover, 418

Published: September 27, 2011, by Little, Brown and Company

Source: Providence Public Libraries

Will I Buy It? Yes.

This was an absolutely epic journey of badassery and mythology, and I have never been so glad to read a book in my life.

The plot follows Karou, our main character. She travels around the world, secretly doing the bidding of her caretaker, Brimstone the Devil. Once these strange marks on the doors appear, her world is thrown into disarray, and Brimstone sends her on one last adventure. Little does she know that an angel named Akiva has been following her. When he confronts her, a power that she had no idea of rises inside her. She nearly kills Akiva, but even after her mercy, he still is drawn to her. They form a bond, but when Akiva’s siblings come after him, and he realizes who Karou truly is underneath the charming eyes and blue hair, will this change the future of monsters and seraphim? Or will Karou turn away from her fate?

Let me make this very clear to you: THIS BOOK IS NOT JUST A ROMANCE. I was very mislead coming into this… I mean, just read the synopsis. It’s all about passionate love and dark secrets. But what you have to understand is that while the romance was tender and beautiful and I loved it very much, it was not the main focus of the story.

No, the spotlight fell on this epic war between devils and chimaera, and the seraphim. Seriously. Chimaera. This book had chimaera in it. I can’t really say much to the plot without giving you spoilers, except that it was freaking AMAZING. Complex and twisty-turny, with a lot of mythical creatures and stories and war.

Karou was wonderful. A lot of times in this genre, the main character has to be brutally scarred from some past event, and their heart will be hardened for life. But although Karou did have a violent past, she didn’t know about it for the time being, and I found her to be very quirky and sweet, in her own little ways. She also had a nice, refreshing edginess about her, which helped get the story going. Her friend Zuzana was absolutely hilarious, and added a comic relief which was very relaxing after battles and such. I thought they were both perfectly crafted for the story.

Akiva… Let’s talk Akiva for a moment. By the way, I pronounce his name (in my head) ‘Aaa-kī-va’. Like ‘reviva’, I guess. Some people might pronounce it ‘Ah-kiv-ah’ like ‘baclava’, but in my mind the ‘i’ will always say its name. He was one hot angel. I’m surprised Karou didn’t just stutter the first time she saw him. What with his fiery eyes and muscled body, I know I would’ve. But you know, Akiva wasn’t this sarcastic, cold person who needed Karou’s ‘loving kindness’ to reveal his true self. Akiva was the sweetest guy anyone could ever ask for. The devotion with which he protected and cherished Karou, the unending hope that she could love him back. It really touched my heart, when he defended her from his siblings. He was one of the best male love interests that I’ve seen in a while.

The romance between him and Karou was just lovely. They both discovered so much about each other, and were so delicate and at the same time passionate. One thing I was really happy about was the lack of, well, explicit writing. You get that so much in fantasy YA, especially ones dealing with older teenagers with newfound powers! But there was just some delicate kissing and very mild imagery. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I didn’t have to worry about things getting weird. Even though I’m OK with most of that stuff, it requires so much emotion stress.

But that ending… oh, that ending. It seriously messed with my emotions. I’m not going to go and blurt out any spoilers, but just be warned: you’ve got a serious twist coming for you. And it will take your heart and stab it into itty-bitty pieces, and then grind them up and throw them into a volcano.

 Laini Taylor’s writing was fantastic. Each sentence was crafted really beautifully, and the descriptions really made the world vivid in my mind. She also managed to throw in some really important ideals in there, like Brimstone’s belief that the real magic is in hope, and not wishes. I like how Laini crafted her own goals and life lessons into a high fantasy tale.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It has become a solid new favorite series in my head, right up there next to Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. The sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, is next on my TBR, so look for an upcoming review of that!

  
Buy this Book!

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Laini Taylor is a writer-artist-daydreamer-nerd-person,
and simultaneously a mom-wife-sister-daughter-person. She lives in Portland, Oregon, USA
with her husband Jim Di Bartolo, who is an amazing illustrator and who she’s always begging to draw her things,
and with their wee droll genius, Clementine Pie. Visit her online.

My First Blogging Award!

Wow. I’m so excited I’m hyperventilating. This is amazingly awesome! Yes, you guessed it: I’VE BEEN CHOSEN FOR MY FIRST BLOGGING AWARD! I’m just giddy with excitment. I’ve been posting for three days now, and already someone has noticed me and given me an award! OK, that sounded a lot like bragging. Sorry. This is […]

A Darker Shade of Magic – Book Review

  

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

Book Info:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Format & Pages: Hardcover, 400

Published: February 24, 2015, Tor Books

Source: Providence Public Libraries

Will I Buy It? Yes.

I finally read it. The fantasy novel of the year. And it was one hell of a ride.

The protagonists were extremely gripping. Kell is our main character. He is one of the last Antari, an ancient magical race that can travel between worlds. He was wonderful: full of life, but with some deeper secrets. I wished that he was more high-spirited like his brother Rhy, but his brooding gave a certain mystery to his overall personality. Lilah, the catty thief who he teams up with, added just the right amount of spark to the story. She was smart and saucy, with a good amount of edginess. It really warmed my heart to see her compassionate side come out a few times. She has a lot of potential.

However, the antagonists were a whole different story. I felt like the evil Dane twins, King Athos and Queen Astrid, weren’t fleshed out enough. They were definitely creepy, with their bloodless skin and forbidden magic, but they lacked depth. V.E. Schwab just threw them into the story, and the reader didn’t get enough background to feel scared or apprehensive. As for their mind slave, Holland, he could’ve been a fabulous bad guy! The first description of him immediately intrigued me:

“…Holland terrified him. He didn’t know if it was the evenness in the man’s tone or his strangely faded appearance or his haunted eyes – one black, of course, the other a milky green. Or perhaps it was the way he seemed to made more of water and stone than flesh and blood and soul. Whatever it was, the foreign Antari had always given Parrish the shivers.”

Is that not insanely cool and horrific? But after this, the reader again is given no backstory. All we know is that this guy’s evil. His battles and conversations are written very well, and I enjoyed the darkness and hostility. But I couldn’t seem to empathize with him enough for me to care about his part in the story.

The plot was absolutely fantastic. It sucked me in and deepened with every chapter. It was complex and thrilling, but I never got confused. Each character’s mission was made clear from the first few pages. I loved the way that magic was infused into this. It didn’t have that little-kid, fairy tale feel; it was dark and twisted.

What a masterpiece. For a YA/fantasy piece, this was very well written. It didn’t have that teenage feel. No, it was sharp, elegant, and chilling. I cannot wait for the sequel.

  

Buy This Book!
 Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and when she is not wandering in search of buried treasure, fairy tales, and good tea, she’s tucked in a cafe, dreaming up monsters.

STACKING THE SHELVES #1 

  
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly event that Tynga’s Reviews hosts. We are all book lovers and the need to share our enthusiasm is sometimes overwhelming. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! Find the full instructions here.

LIBRARY BOOKS:   

1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater ~ I’ve heard so many different things about this. It’s very slow-paced, but this Stiefvater girl is building up quite a reputation, so I’m excited to try her out.

2.  Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor ~ I’m actually about 50 pages into this little beauty, and it is fascinating. There’s angels, there’s demons, there’s world-switching and time-traveling… YAAAAAAS!

3. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir ~ This one sounds so kickass. A girl loses her brother and rebels against an ancient slavery – can I get a hell yeah?

4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness ~ Apparently everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. I don’t even know the storyline, and I’m hooked.


BOUGHT BOOKS:

 

5. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella ~ The cutest little chick-lit ever. Sophie Kinsella has thoroughly installed herself as a new favorite author. 

6. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige ~ A present-time kid goes into Oz, but now Dorothy’s the bad guy? This was recommended to me by a fellow YA-reader up in Vermont, so I’m pretty pumped for it.

7. Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella ~ Obviously I’m quite into Sophie right now. This is the fourth or fifth installment of her Shopaholic series.

I’m reading a lot of cool books this week and will (hopefully) be posting lots of reviews.

Read on!

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review

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An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

Book Info:

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Format & Pages: Hardcover, 286

Published: June 4, 2015, Delacorte Press

Source: The Bennington Bookshop

Price: $18.99

I absolutely adore Sophie Kinsella. I have read almost all of her Confessions of a Shopaholic series, and they are the funniest and cutest little books. This one only just came out on June 4th; can you believe my luck in snagging it at a bookstore? I had the HIGHEST expectations for this, and I’m happy to say that I was totally satisfied.

Audrey is our main character. An incident at school has caused her to develop severe anxiety disorder, and she now wears dark glasses and hides in her room. This has damaged her entire family, but they’re pushing through with life. Frank, Audrey’s brother, is obsessed with competing in an online gaming tournament for six million dollars, and therefore spends almost all of his time on the computer. Every once in a while, he invites his gaming teammate Linus over. Linus finds Audrey quirky and fascinating, and helps her overcome her disorder. But when Linus gets banned from coming over to play with Frank, and Audrey meets one of the oppressors from her school, will she be forced to go back to the drawing board? Or will she win this battle once and for all?

Audrey was a fantastic protagonist. She had the right amount of spunk and strength, but her weaknesses made her extremely easy to empathize with. She had a defined opinion, a real certainty about what she needed in life, but also a fear of starting on her path. Her musings were also intensely interesting to read, for example:

Eye contact is a big deal. It’s the biggest deal…I know in my rational head that eyes are not frightening. They’re tiny little harmless blobs of jelly. They’re like, a minuscule fraction of our whole body area. So why should they bother me? For a start, they’re powerful. They have range. You focus on someone a hundred feet away, through a whole bunch of people, and they know that you’re looking at them. What other bit of human  anatomy can do that? It’s practically being psychic, is what it is.

But they’re like vortexes too. They’re infinite. You look someone straight in the eye and your whole soul can be sucked out in a nanosecond. That’s what it feel like. Other people’s eyes are limitless and that’s what scares me.

Her family was totally adorkable. And no, that was not a typo. They were all such cute little nerds in their own special ways. Frank was a funny, snappy computer geek. Felix, the younger brother, was a cute little toddler and he really helped Audrey calm down after meeting new people. Her mum was just so into her children; she couldn’t have cared more for them. Sure, she may have expressed it the wrong way by dropping Frank’s computer out a window, but she really thought it was the best thing for him. Her dad was pretty taken up with work, but he had his funny moments. For instance, when Audrey was making a movie of her family, this was in one of the film transcripts:

 Mum: “Well, I want you to go through your shirts. I don’t know what happens to them. Chris, we can go through yours too.”

Dad is working on his BlackBerry.

Mum: “Chris? Chris?”

Frank: “Dad? Family? Communicate? Family?”

Finally looks up.

Dad: “No, you CANNOT go out tonight. You are grounded, young man.”

He looks at the blank faces. Realizes he’s got it wrong.

Dad: “I mean…stack the dishwasher.”

“I mean, put your laundry in the right basket.”

Gives up.

Dad: “Whatever your mother says.”

Now, what the blurb says is NOT the main point of the story. Do not be taken aback by this supposed copy of The Fault in Our Stars!  Linus was an intelligent, sweet boy who really liked Audrey and took a stand for her. He encouraged her to start meeting and talking to new people. He played a crucial role as the kick starter for Audrey.

But this was her story. She worked through her illness, not him. She came to terms with herself. She got her life going. The whole thing was a really delicate little treasure of hope and funniness, and maybe Sophie Kinsella’s strongest piece so far.

I will definitely read this again. It was so silly, and yet at the same time thought-provoking, that it will always bring a smile to my face. I definitely would recommend this if you’re looking for a chick-lit that’s a little more interesting than the typical high-school cat fights.

  
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 Sophie Kinsella is a bestselling writer and former financial journalist. She is the author of many number one bestsellers, including the hugely popular Shopaholic series. She has also written seven bestselling novels as Madeleine Wickham. She lives in London with her husband and family. Visit her online.

Hi!

Hello, all you fellow readers who have somehow stumbled upon my blog! I hope you enjoy reading about my various opinions on many wonderful books (let’s be honest, most of them are YA). You might also see some short stories scattered around. I also have *some* creative writing skills. So hang around, take a peek, […]