The Raven Boys Book Review

Ah, The Raven Cycle, a series I’ve visited quite a few times. To date, I’ve never been able to finish this pesky series, and I’ve never really known why. In an effort to find out, let’s take a look back to the very first time I picked up Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

This is one of those series that delivered itself, in a neatly wrapped package topped with a bow, to the top of my TBR list, courtesy of social media and stellar reviews. I was starting to feel that in order to keep my reputation of being a bibliophile intact, I had to read this series.

Around a year ago, I started to read the Raven Cycle series. This first book did not disappoint, and I have never once faltered in this opinion during my re-read. However, the second book posed more of a challenge. I could not get into it for the life of me and over time, I gradually came to except that it was never going to happen. We were syrup and waffles, reader and book. Two things many firmly believe ought to be together, but I just couldn’t stomach.

Time passed, and somehow, the mysterious and mystic Raven Cycle series was yet again in my hands, waiting to be read. I gritted my teeth, this time determined to finish this series and know, once and for all, if it really was worth all the hype. This time, fueled by determination and, I’ll admit, more than a little love for Maggie Stiefvater’s writing, I made it through the first two books. Unfortunately, this is where I came to a halting stop; I was unable to get into the third book. The last half of the second had taken too much energy and I was ready to go back to a more enjoyable read. I’m hoping this isn’t where it ends for me, halfway through the adventure that encompasses the raven boys. I loved the first book so much, a part of me sincerely hopes the Raven Boys will prevail. Here’s to just about the longest intro ever, so without further ado, my review on book #1 in the Raven Cycle Series.

First off, the descriptions in this book blew me away. I actually started looking for elite boarding schools I could join, or googling pictures of  Henrietta, Virginia just to see if I could experience even a crumb of its beauty through the computer screen. Maggie Stiefvater picked me up and took me to a world I never wanted to leave. It was full of magic and mystery, freedom and friends. Her world building was phenomenal and intricate, more tightly woven than… whatever the weaver wove from all her human hair.

It wasn’t an all-at-once information dump, but instead falling into Stiefvater’s version of Henrietta was slow and sweet, filled with excellently timed elements she used to introduce her characters.  My love for the cast was strong and determined from the beginning. The raven boys were simply irresistible with their unorthodox spirits and character arcs. Gansey is the embodiment of every teenage dream: smooth, sweet, and swoon-worthy. Blue is the true essence of confidence in oneself and following one’s intuition. Adam is a workaholic with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Ronan is, well, sharp. Noah is a pumpkin, sweet, but not always around. These characters make up the heart and soul of the book. Their character development is so exquisitely detailed, it’s hard not to fall in love with them all. The only character who I feel needs more representation in this department is Noah. Out of the entire group of friends I felt like I knew Noah the least. Additionally, I felt like the pages were lacking some quality Orla time as well. Even though she is only a supporting character, she should have a  more solid foundation than a paper thin (haha) personality and background. The POV switches were done tastefully and were artfully incorporated into the overall plot, adding depth to the story instead of length to the page count. The book was, by the way, a very enjoyable length, an easy read for a few days.

What differentiates this book from most YA novels, in my opinion, is the romance. It doesn’t strangle the plot but instead adds a realistic flare as Blue negotiates the rollercoaster most teenagers face in their adolescence. Her relationship is not overpowering in a way that deters the course of the book or portrays young girls as desperate and obsessive. Instead, we see her enter and exit a myriad of emotions as she juggles her pre-held accusations, surprising desires, and the fear that comes with her own giddy innocence. not to mention the prophecy that predicts her lover’s death, all while withholding her own values and goals. It’s truly an impressively balanced book, romance-wise. With that said, I would’ve liked to have seen a deeper emotional understanding of the relationship. The events that Blue and her troupe faced were monumental and very intense for such young characters. In response, it would’ve been more realistic if we had seen how these actions and decisions truly affected the thought processes of them. Every action has an effect, no matter how small, and I would’ve loved to have seen how that played into the decisions and anxiety Blue feels later on.

One thing I did find unrealistic, however, was the amount of freedom the main characters had to tramps around with. Adult supervision is almost nonexistent, which may be appropriate in some cases due to the fact that Gansey, Ronan, and Noah live on their own. Still, the overall lack of guidance is extremely underdone.


All in all, TheRaven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a thrilling, mystical tale with a wise and witty tone behind it. I definitely recommend giving the series a try! And if you’ve already read the book… does anyone else really want to know a real-life Persephone, too? She seems like such a neat and eccentric person I’d love to have a conversation with! Nope? Just me? Okay. Anywho, 5 out of  5 stars!!

Kingdom of Ash Thoughts and Opinions

It’s been less than 5 minutes since I’ve finished Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas and I’m still crying. My mind is just in awe, or maybe shock. Since I don’t know many others who have read this, throughout the book I’ve had to keep my thoughts to myself. So here is where I will ramble in hopes to ease the weight this book has put on my thoughts. THERE WILL BE MANY SPOILERS. So beware.

Spoilers ahead.

I’m not kidding.

You better not keep reading if you’ve never read the book.

Anyways, I needed more. There were so many lovely characters, unique and just overall brilliant. Aelin had a lot of intricate relationships and I felt like there was too much fill in the blank. I wish there was more dialogue and interactions with her and all of her court, in particular, Elide, Fenrys, Lorcan, and Ren. She doesn’t really get one on one time with these people and it made it harder to get to know the real dynamic behind their relationships.

This book brought forth in me a love for Fenrys I didn’t know existed. I didn’t understand how, after months of torture together, Aelin and Fenrys didn’t have more of a highlight in their interactions. I had hoped, because of the shared trauma, they would’ve been inseparable for at least a while after she escaped. Another thought of mine: Aelin recovered awfully fast for having been tortured for three months, I personally wish Maas would’ve gone deeper into detail with Aelin’s mindset and her thoughts; putting more of a spotlight on her recovery.

I’m also not sure how much of a fan I am of Rowan and Aelin being all lovey dovey. Yes, I know they’re mates. I love them as mates, they might just be my favorite to people, ever.  But I was head over heels for Empire of Storms, how Aelin was cunning and crafty, hiding truths and revealing big surprises. Granted, I didn’t want Kingdom of Ash to be just like Empire of Storms, my point is only that I wish Aelin hadn’t gotten so mushy and soft when it came to Rowan, and that she still kept things from him, on a larger scale than what happened in the book.

On another note,  I find it upsetting Aelin’s scars just disappeared. I’ve actually heard this opinion a few times, I believe. Her scars were symbolic, they meant a lot, and they were just washed away. I’m not sure how I feel about that, or the lack of her near depth less magic. I know I shouldn’t love a person just because of their magical abilities, but I think fire was a big part of Aelin and taking most of it away broke my heart. I understand why it happened, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m happy about it. In fact, it even makes perfect sense, ar cannot be won without sacrifice.

After contemplation and proper time to wrap my mind around the entire book, I realized something. This isn’t necessarily bad, nor did I notice it right away but, there are many similarities between the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and this one. The first one being that both Rhysand and Aelin knew that they had mates but they refrained from telling them, out of their unselfish and unconditional love for them.Not only this, but in general I felt like Aelin and Rhysand had very similar personalities. In particular, they were both burdened by the weight of having to save everyone, their responsibilities as leaders and they were both willing to sacrifice everything. They also both spent long years imprisoned, going through considerable mental trauma and torture. Another similarity is how Aelin and Rowan got married in secret as did Rhysand and Feyre, and it’s revealed when both Aelin and Feyre are in enemy hands. Och, having them both reveal they were married was just about the cutest darn thing I’ve ever read, so fear not, this is not a complaint. Just pointing out facts.

Okay I believe my rant is over. I’ve finally stopped crying now, and for that I’m glad. It feels as if a long time friend of mine has just left me, disappeared from my life. I will never be able to read this book for the first time again, but I have high hopes that they’ll create a time machine in the future, enabling me to travel back and reread this whole series again for the first time. Fingers crossed. Sorry you had to read my disgustedly informal rant. The comment are open. I’d LOVE to discuss any part of this series with you!

Splintered

Some of my favorite stories are created when an author can take an old tale, add a crazy twist, and make it completely their own. This being said, I often find myself driven towards fairytale retellings. It’s really something special when you can take someone else’s old idea and make it new. At a cute little bookstore in Washington a few weeks ago, I was hoping to find one of these great stories in Splintered, by A. G. Howard.

The story starts off well enough, showing us what regular life looks like for our main character. Howard adds some family history, helping to build to the storyline. Then comes the call to action, but in this category, I’m disappointed to say that the characters’ reactions were stereotypical and easy to guess. The same goes for their personalities. For the entire book, I kid you not, Alyssa, the main character is waiting for her hunky boyfriend to come to save her. On the hunky boyfriend’s side, he actually acts like her dad. He tells her she’s not allowed to do things, and she actually listens! She looks up to him and acts like a lovesick puppy dog, never getting mad at him, even when he’s at fault!

Morpheus, another love interest of the main character, has a somewhat more unique personality. Though, on occasion, we see him falling into the bad boy stereotype. Instantly, towards the beginning of the book, I feel like the author almost incorporates Alyssa’s love life into the hook. She kind of uses instant love, with hunky boyfriend and with Morpheus, but at the same time, she describes, in lacking detail how Alyssa has known both boys practically her whole life. So it might not be instant love for the main characters, but for the readers, it sure seems it. We don’t get enough interactions between Morpheus and Alyssa to justify her strong feelings towards him.

Going into the world building, I adore the somewhat similar, yet altogether a wee bit different Wonderland Howard created. The only thing I would’ve enjoyed there being more of was an explanation of Wonderland politics and drama. Towards the end, things became a bit tangled and I found myself having to repetitively go back and reread, in attempt to fully comprehend the insane twists and wild ending. Granted, the twist may be predictable, but all the small details that go along with it are a surprise.

I would have immensely enjoyed this book better if I could stand the main character. I think it’s still worth a shot to try the next books, in hopes she grows up and develops as a person better. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Academy of Assassins & Heart of Assassins

This week I re-read Academy of Assassins by Stacey Brutger because I found out the second book was released! I was very excited and tore through not only the first but also the second book, Heart of Assassins. I’m happy to say that these books are amazing! I’m almost ashamed to admit this, considering how cheesy and repetitive these books can be, but for some reason, I love them anyway. But for the sake of this review, I suppose I’ll nitpick a little.

The first story starts off with fantastic world building. You understand all the dynamics and everything that’s going on. But as you make your way to the second book, things become confusing. I found myself often looking back and re-reading passages multiple times, in an attempt to comprehend the story. They throw you into an alternate universe with little background information.

Moving on to the main female character, Morgon: I love, love, loved her! For what feels like the first time in forever, I completely agree with everything the main character does. She’s a strong female, but she’s been through a lot and it shows. She has doubts like a normal person and she’s never described as perfect. Onto the romance side of the story. Ever heard of a love triangle? Well, this is even more insane! Morgan is in love with 5 people, and those 5 guys are all head over heels for her. Those guys are also described as being perfect, setting unrealistic body expectations for men and for girls to have in men. One of these men, Kincade, thinks it’s his right to push Morgan around, telling her what to do and controlling her life. Morgan still loves him through this, making it seem acceptable to treat people in a similar fashion. Another main character, Atlas, really develops in the second book. We get to see a little more of his thought process and get to know him as a person better, whereas in the first book he’s mostly described as having indifference towards everyone. Although, as a reader, I find it odd and unrealistic, that in the first book Atlas doesn’t want anything to do with Morgan. He ignores her and whatnot, then in the second book he describes Morgan as being his world ever since he met her, but he’s just now showing it in the second book. I realize Atlas has many reasons for hiding his feelings, but I feel like it shouldn’t have been such an extreme change in emotions from one book to the next.

Lastly, while Brutger is a lovely writer, a few of her descriptions became old and repetitive towards the end of the second book. I hope in future books her writing grows and evolves more. I definitely plan on reading them!

In general, I’d love to see more female friends for Morgan. Not everyone she meets and associates with has to be in love with her. But that’s just tiny—I love a good romance!

I know it sounds like I didn’t like a lot of things in this book, but this was me really nitpicking every little thing that slightly annoyed me. This book is fabulous! If you can deal with a little bit of cheesy-ness and stereotypes then I highly recommend! I couldn’t put it down! 4 out of 5 stars.

Shadow and Bone

The last few weeks I’ve found it increasingly difficult to find a good book to read. I just can’t get into any of the stories or seem to sit still long enough to read. As some of you may know, I’ve been constantly traveling with hardly a moment to collect my thoughts let alone crack open a new book. Some would call this a reading slump. I would agree.

A few days ago, in desperate need of a book to review for this week’s blog post, I picked up my third book of the week. One of the 8 books I packed in my suitcase to bring with me across the country. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo has cured my restless mind ladies and gentlemen.

The story immediately picked me up and carried me away to a place where setting down my book is not an option. I spent the entirety of the night with a flashlight swinging from the top of my tent and the pages of my book turning with an almost desperate fervor to find out what happens next.

The book instantly starts by throwing you into this simply one of a kind world created by the wonderful mind of Leigh Bardugo. Although it’s a bit slow to completely explain all aspects of the Grishaverse world, many things can be assumed through careful attention to detail. I admire the main character, but I look forward to getting to know her on a deeper level in the coming books.

While reading the second half of the book I often found myself wishing the author went through more of Alina’s thinking processes. She made many decisions towards the end I felt didn’t quite match up with her character from the beginning of the book. I 100% understand she changed both mentally and physically from the beginning of the book to the end; I’d just like to see her change happen slower and more realistically.

Huge props for the plot twist, it’s rare I find one I didn’t see coming. I think for many others, though, the plot twist will be slightly more obvious; unfortunately, I was blinded by the Darklings’ good looks and easy charm, same as Alina I suppose. I hate to admit it, but towards the end not only did things seem rushed but Alina and Mal’s reconnection seemed awfully cheesy to me. And talk about predictable.

I will admit I simply loved the author’s descriptions of secondary and even background characters. I found it easy to like people like David, Genya, Marie, Nadia, and Baghra with Alina (the main character) having only little interactions with them. Overall I’m looking forward to the last book for a multitude of reasons; reason number one this book being phenomenal. A definite four out of five stars!

Buy the book here!

Ash and Bramble

Recently I found myself stumbling upon the book Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas. Having read the description, I was instantly in love, thinking “this is right up my alley!” Then I started to read. Right up my alley… maybe three years ago. The dark, twisting tale of the Fairy Godmother actually being evil has so much potential. Sadly, that was all this book had.

This book would’ve made a great trilogy; when the author tried to cram all of the information into one book, the result was confusing, to say the least. There were nearly no character arcs, nor was there any development for the main character Penelope (or Pin). She’s there, and she exists. She doesn’t really seem affected by all of the crazy stuff happening around her, in a character building, personality altering way. The first good 100 pages, we barely know Pin or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress in the first place. It really makes it hard to relate to her and like her if we don’t know anything about her.

I think that overall if there were a prequel to this book, we would’ve gotten a better idea of the world in which the characters live. If we knew Pin, the whole memory loss thing had the potential to bring lots of feels. I know I would’ve cried if my favorite character just lost all her memories, that is if I actually knew enough about her first to care. (I have cried when my favorite character lost their memories—in the Legend trilogy. Marie Lu really knows how to bring the waterworks, but that’s a story for a different review.)

Onto the fact of the instant love triangle. I mean, come on! She knows Shoe for a whole of two days and suddenly he’s in love with her? And can we take a moment to acknowledge that for a good ¾ of the book his name is Shoe, and then, out of nowhere, the author just decides to sometimes call him Owen… so now we’ve got two completely different names for the same person! I understand he doesn’t have a name—whatever. But if I suddenly don’t remember my name, Shoe would be the last thing on my mind, considering it’s not an actual name. Besides his name, though, I’ll have to say that Shoe was the reason I finished the book. His character is the easiest to come to know and love. I’ll even admit I felt a little worried for him towards the end.

Another thing that infuriates me is that Pin (Pen, whoever!) did not even try to bring back her memories. The author brushes off the idea of Pin knowing her past and her mom (all things that would help us understand the book better) seemingly just because she’s too lazy to make it up. I’m not sure, but I do know there was not enough explanation of who Pin’s mother was and why she was important. I like where she was coming from with the idea of the story, but honestly, I was just confused. Was the Fairy Godmother the real antagonist or was it the story? Also, why was the Godmother serving the story? All Pin used was a thimble to destroy the story. A thimble which the godmother had an almost exact replica of…

Although I have found some major issues in this book (in my opinion), this is a good book if lack of detail and explanation doesn’t bug you. Maybe kids ages 10-13 will find it appealing. I’m not sure why it was classified as young adult. I rate it two out of five stars.

Buy the book here!

Alanna: The First Adventure

Recently, my English teacher and I had a conversation about books. She had mentioned a book series she loved and wanted me to borrow. She couldn’t remember what it was called, or the name of the author, but once she found it she was going to bring it in for me. She found it a few weeks later and approached me at lunch with it in hand. It was called Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. It was a tiny thing, only about 275 pages. But although it was short, that book quickly became one of my favorites.

Alanna: the First Adventure, the first book in the Song of the Lioness series, follows Alanna: a girl pretending to be a boy in order to become a knight. The book starts off with one-year-old Alanna and her twin brother, Thom, complaining about the paths they were meant to take. Both siblings have the Gift, which gives them magical abilities. Since Alanna was the girl, she was to go to the Convent to learn to be a lady. Her brother was meant to go to the Castle to become a knight. But, there was a problem. Alanna wanted nothing to do with being a lady, and Thom wanted to become a sorcerer instead of a knight. The two decided to switch places. Thom would forge letters from his father, saying that instead of the twins being male and female, that they were two young boys. Alanna, now called Alan, would cut her hair and train to become a knight, hiding her true identity.

The book follows Alanna keeping her secret over the course of about five years. As a reader, you watch Alanna grow up as a woman. Alanna is a highly relatable and lovable character. She has a fiery personality and a short temper, which stays true to her red hair. During her journey, she learns to control her magic. She becomes such a good knight that she is made the Prince’s squire. But at the end, her powers are put to the test and she must battle some powerful beings, and her secret is revealed to a certain someone, but I’ll let you read the book to find out who.

Although I love this book, I was taken aback by how it goes by so fast. At some places, I was slightly confused. I would have enjoyed the book more if I had gotten a little more communication between Alanna and Prince Jonathan. I also felt as though people would have guessed that Alanna was a girl, but she could have just been good at hiding it. A connection I made to the next book was that Alanna suddenly falls in love with two of the characters in the second book, and there was no warning in the first one. I feel as though there would be some kind of clue that she would fall in love in the first book. But all in all, the book is structured and well written. I rate it four and a half out of five stars.

Buy the book here!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

For a while, Ky has been begging me to read A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Finally, the wait was too much, and she bought it for me herself while we were brainstorming at the bookstore. (That was our first meeting regarding this blog, by the way.) But I didn’t start reading it until about a week ago. I finished reading it two days later. That book is now my favorite book in the world.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (or ACOTAR for short) follows Feyre (pronounced as Fey-ruh) through a troublesome time. At the beginning of the story, she kills a giant wolf with an ash arrow. The wolf is later revealed as a faerie when his friend crosses the wall separating faerie and mortal lands in order to either kill Feyre or bring her to his court, which she chose. From then on Feyre learns about the faeries and while trying to escape, she falls in love with Tamlin, the handsome faerie who is keeping her. She must break the curse among the Faerie lands by killing the mysterious Amarantha.

ACOTAR is a literary masterpiece. Usually, my logical brain is not a huge fan of fantasies. But this book stole my mortal heart. Instantaneously I fell in love with the characters, especially Lucien, whose fiery wit made me laugh out loud within five minutes of first reading his name. The characters are all believable and thoroughly described. I had to take mental notes throughout reading the book to improve my own writing skills.

Characters weren’t the only thing Sarah J. Maas described well; another aspect is imagery. I felt as though I was witnessing the book firsthand. The storytelling is marvelous. I was also impressed by the structure and vocabulary of the book—although not quite as impressed as I am with the rest of the story. But, it was still magnificent.

After I finished reading the first book, I begged my mother to let me buy the second on my kindle for $5.11. She allowed it, and now I am reading it nonstop. I had to peel my eyes away from the book just to write this review. I’m looking forward to reading more of Sarah J. Maas’s books, as I am to seeing pictures of her new baby!

All in all, this book was amazing. I’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind a little intense romance. I rate it five out of five stars. I can’t wait to read more of Feyre’s sexy adventures.

Buy the book here!

Sky in the Deep

This weekend, in my local Barnes and Noble bookstore, I found myself drawn to the beautiful cover of the book Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. Now, I don’t ever only buy books just for their covers, so I proceeded to open the book and read the jacket cover. This cover featured a blurb about the story, promising war, romance, and a kick-ass female protagonist. I finished the book a few hours ago and I’m disappointed to say it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The first few chapters of the book were wonderful and fast moving. The main character, Eelyn, is in the middle of a fast-paced action scene when she spots her supposedly dead brother among the crowd. She goes after him, and this leads to the rest of the book. Once she is captured by her brother, now part of the rival clan, the Rikis, the pace of the story starts to drastically slow. Although I finished the book in one day, I found it easy to put it down and go to bed at a reasonable time.

While the author does a good job of explaining what’s going on and describing the surroundings, there is a clear lack of suspense building. Everything in this book is straightforward and to the point. There wasn’t any foreshadowing or plot twists, much to my dismay.

On the other hand, the main character and her thoughts are portrayed in a good way, making the protagonist easy to like. Eelyn, as a character, grows and develops in sync with the events in the book; her character arch is predictable but enjoyable to read.

But, the way Eelyn grew up was as a warrior: she was taught to never cry or show weakness. This is stressed and mentioned multiple times throughout the book. While I get that her journey is a hard one, I don’t understand how her upbringing of never showing weakness just crumbles and she starts crying all of the time. She is a fierce warrior, yet in a span of a few weeks, she throws away all she has grown up to believe and starts loving her enemies. For a girl with fire in her veins, as is said about her by other characters in the book, she seems awfully easy to get to comply as a dyr, a type of slave.

Now, I always love the idea of forbidden love, and I believe, though used a lot, this can still turn out good with its own twist. In this book, however, I find it hard to believe Eelyn is actually in love with Fiske, who shot her with an arrow, bought her as a slave, and said that it was all in the name of protecting her. I agree that these actions did help save her life, but were it not for him capturing her in the first place, the ENTIRE mess wouldn’t have happened. Although I believe it to be unnecessary, this was the first snowflake in the snowball effect that creates this story. The two supposed lovebirds (although the word love is never mentioned to each other, they do express strong feelings for each other) have barely spoken! I feel, as a reader, that I hardly know who Fiske is. I wish there were more dialogue to explain the feelings between the beloved Eelyn and this Fiske. Also, how exactly is Fiske able to kick Eelyn’s butt so easily? They have both trained as warriors, and Eelyn is out on the battlefield killing all of these other trained warriors like she could do it in her sleep. Then, Fiske comes along and her ass is handed to her in seconds.

I feel that overall this book was lacking in dialogue, and because of this, we don’t get to know any of the characters really well. For example, besides Fiske, there is Myra, Eelyn’s supposed best friend. We don’t really see this proven through their limited interactions. We hardly even get a glimpse of who Myra is to Eelyn.

My last wish for this book would be to have more dialogue between Eelyn and her brother. She has a lot of pent-up anger, and she’s described as being pretty furious at him. Over time they have one brief discussion and that’s it. I feel like Eelyn should’ve exploded, or there should’ve been some sort of fight; instead, the problem is just swept under the rug and never dealt with.

Despite all this, it was a lovely simple day read. It left me wanting more for character relationships because I liked the characters so much. The ending was sweet and a refreshing compared to the common cliffhanger endings. This book didn’t really ignite “the feels” in me, but it was not in any way a bad book. If you’re looking for a quick, simple read I hope you’ll take this into consideration. Through all of my nit-picky comments, I still rate the book four out of five stars.

But the book here!