Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: The Raven Boys

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Published: 2012 by Scholastic
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

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 never sees them—until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, and he’s 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 is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher, 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 doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

First Sentence:
Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.

As she did with her masterful book, The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater takes her incredible imagination and weaves a completely unique story with heavy emphasis on characterization. I have never read something like The Raven Boys, and I do not think I ever will.

This story mostly follows Blue Sargent as she tries to figure out what is going on after something strange happens. On St. Mark’s Eve, she sees a spirit of a boy who is going to die in the coming year. After a series of chance meetings, she ends up joining this boy, Gansey, and his friends in a search for the ley line in the surrounding area. A ley line is a line of supernatural occurrences. Across these lines, the supernatural grows stronger.

Each of the characters were strong and complex. Gansey was probably the most developed in this book. His rich boy fa├žade was covering a boy who desperately wanted to find this ley line and have an adventure for deep rooted personal reasons. I cannot wait to get to know more and more about him. I want his friends to realize the depth of his character, because it seemed like there was always miscommunication about his motives. Adam’s character was also explored to great extent. I have no idea where his character will go in the next few books, but I like him, even though he reads too much into situations. Ronan was interesting as well, but had little development in this first book. I do think that throughout the series we will see much about him and about his motives and personality.

The narrative was in third-person but it cycled through which character it was focused on each chapter. Sometimes I did not feel like Blue was the main character at all (like the synopsis suggests). Blue was not as developed as I wish she could have been. It almost feels like she does not even really need to change or grow because she has no faults. However, I cannot wait to see her perception of the boys change as they grow closer. I enjoyed that she was off-beat and quirky. Her family members were also great. I never thought about what a whole family of psychics would be like!

Stiefvater is a complete genius at crafting characters and plotlines that are fresh and different. I do feel like her books drag quite a bit though. It takes awhile to fully get immersed and I wish I could have been sucked in faster. But when I think back on the story, I can’t really figure out why it dragged.

I am excited to keep reading this series and see all the mysteries finally get solved!

Content Warnings: Includes strong language.

4 Pigs

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (4)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share one or two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

White sparks flashed across Scarlet’s vision, and it took all her willpower not to pull the trigger and erase his smugness. ‘Why are you following us?’ She said when the throbbing rage had become a manageable simmer.”

- pg. 214, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I actually just finished this and it was GREAT! The review will be up in a few days!

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

In My Mailbox (6)

Since it is officially summer, I went a little crazy at the library and picked up all of these fine titles.


First Pile:
Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Second Pile:
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Poison by Bridget Zinn
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Mind Games by Kiersten White
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons
Sever by Lauren DeStefano

All of these make me so excited to get down to reading! I hope to make it through most of these (and more!) by the time summer is at a close.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Star Cursed
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2
Publishing Date: June 18th, 2013

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate's friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.
Cate doesn't want to be a weapon, and she doesn't want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood's schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she'll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.
In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess's quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

I loved Born Wicked (even though I haven’t reviewed it yet. Oops) and I can’t wait to see what will happen next for the Cahill sisters. I love the feel of these books and the magic that is involved.

Side note, I’m sad they switched up the covers, because the hardcover version of Born Wicked was beautiful. BUT, I do think this is a stunning cover as well. Hopefully it matches the tone of the book!

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: This is What Happy Looks Like

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Series: --
Published: 2013 by Little, Brown and Co.
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

Perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O’Neill meet – albeit virtually – when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an e-mail about his pet pig, Wilbur. The two seventeen-year-olds strike up an e-mail relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don’t even know each other’s first name.

In a witty and unforgettable correspondence, Graham and Ellie share details about their lives, hopes, and fears. But they don’t tell each other everything: Graham doesn’t know the secret hidden in Ellie’s family tree, and Ellie is unaware of Graham’s life in the spotlight.

When Graham seizes an opportunity to spend time in Ellie’s tiny hometown of Henley, Main, he takes their relationship from online to in person. But can two people from such different worlds be together despite the odds stacked against them?

Spanning one fateful summer, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel proves that life – like love – is full of unexpected connections and happy mistakes.

First Sentence:
It was not all that different from the circus, and it came to town in much the same way.”

Jennifer E. Smith is very talented at crafting adorable love stories. This is What Happy Looks Like is endearing in the way of feel-good movies. While it might be cheesy, it still makes you love it.

Graham accidently sends an email to the wrong address and it ends up in Ellie’s inbox. For about four months they have email conversations about everything except the important details of their lives. Graham is completely drawn to this girl, so he arranges to have his next movie shot in her small city in Maine. From here their relationship goes through a lot of ups and downs.

While this whole “famous boy falls in love with small town girl” plot has been done many times before, the email aspect is what drew me to this version. Almost the first 20 pages are their emails back and forth and it is too cute. Both are so witty and intelligent, and perfect for each other. Scattered throughout the book are more emails which are made sweeter since they are both in the same place.

Smith really enjoys writing love stories that are highly improbably. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was equally unrealistic, but that’s part of the charm. It’s very fun to read books about romance that starts so perfectly and ends up perfectly. Smith still mixes in real life issues like family and friend problems, but she mainly shows how two people who are good for each other can overcome these issues together.

I will definitely read Jennifer E. Smith’s future books because she is a fantastic writer and story-crafter.

Content Warning: Nothing I can think of.

4 Pigs

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (3)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share one or two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

This woman was severely dressed, with a face that might have been pretty if all the lines resulted from smiling rather than frowning. As it was, she looked like a stoat with gastric problems.”

- pg. 56, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: Out of the Easy

Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Series: --
Published: 2013 by Philomel Books
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

It's 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.
Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

First Sentence:
My mother’s a prostitute.”

I absolutely adored Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray (not to be confused with the other fifty shades novel) and my review of it is here. So it was no surprise that I also love her newest book.
Out of the Easy is beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

This story is about the complex problems that arise in your life as you get older. Friends, self, family, and future plans are all connected whether or not you want them to be. Josie Moraine desperately wants to escape New Orleans. Known to everyone as the daughter of a prostitute and as someone who helps out at a brothel, Josie can’t become who she wants to be in this town that has created an identity for her. When Josie gets a chance at going to college in Boston, she jumps to action and makes it her big goal. However, life gets complicated as a murder investigation starts to involve her more and more.

I…I felt like I was Josie. I felt imprisoned by New Orleans and confused about friendships and overwhelmed with everything that had to be done. I was brought completely into the story and it felt so real. I desperately wanted the best for Josie because she tried so very hard to do the right thing and help everyone, and yet somehow she always got the short end of the stick.

Ruta Sepetys is a brilliant writer and superb story-crafter. As my mother pointed out as she read this book, “You know it’s a good book when you read a sentence and stop to admire it.”

I cannot wait for the next masterpiece by Ruta Sepetys!

Content Warnings: Since this story deals with prostitutes, there are many aspects that could be alarming for young readers. But anything that could be railed against is just reality. Just as with her last book, it’s sad and scary, but it’s not that way for fun.

5 Pigs

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