The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), Book Review

Author:Maggie Stiefvater
 Published: September 2012

Every now and again, I come across a book that makes me want to be a better writer. When language paints not just a story, but vivid, moving images in your mind.

Once I started this book, I couldn’t help but be inexplicably drawn into Blue and Gansey’s world. Into a world where magic might be a possibility, where money isn’t always power, and where the future is enormously heavy, even if you think you know what’s coming…


8093221486_58da76fdb6_z.jpg“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.


This book has had a lot of exposure in the online book community recently. I’ve seen it popping up time and time again, and while I slowly fell in love with the cover art and the sheer beauty of these books, I knew nothing about the storyline. The post that  pushed me over the edge was on Instagram by Andrew (@BritBookBoy) – his photos are simply stunning – but he had highly recommended this series and his taste in books is not only amazing, but very similar to my own. So, I went out and bought the first three books.

 


Processed with VSCOcam with a9 presetThis book had me gripped from the start. The characters, the intrigue, the mystery. I just needed to know what would happen, after the first page. Without even knowing anything about the main protagonist, or even antagonists, I needed to know. How psychic were these women? What was the significance of what they saw? Who was the boy? How would he die? And so it had sucked me in.

More than just the story though, the mystery unfolding page-by-page, I was thirsty for more information about the characters; about these crazy, weird, complicated, magical characters.

Gansey is entirely captivating. I fell in love with him almost immediately. Even though he’s rich a-hole who goes to a posh, pre-ivy league private school and almost seems programmed to be the kind of character I would usually dislike greatly. With his crazy long name with numbers (Richard Campbell Gansey III) and inability to perceive life outside of his bubble sometimes, his unwavering desire to complete his task is absorbing. You can’t help but root for him to succeed. No to mention, he speaks very proper english, and his use of language is nothing short of thrilling. But more than that, he’s so very charming. And as, unconsciously, uncaring as he may be sometimes (a ‘dick’, if you may, but don’t call him that); you kind of can’t help but want to be a part of his posse. And a part of his never-ending search.

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

Ronan is like a lost boy – since his father died, he’s almost not sure who he is anymore, and that makes for lots of teenage angst. He’s almost always angry, he’s easily tipped over the edge and he’s hard to get along with if you’re most people; and yet, you just want to know more. Because if you’ve ready this book through to it’s understatedly wonderful conclusion – you know there is so much more.

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”

Adam is almost the opposite of Gansey; broken and battered, Adam is the only one of the Raven Boys who can’t rely on money from his family to get him by in life. He has to work for his place at Aglionby. He has to lie and try and hide the bruises on his face. He has to sneak, and keep a low profile, and disguise his roots. Adam is mysterious, but he isn’t at the same time, and yet, you can’t help but feel a connection with Adam, and feel like he’s the normal one, the one who understands the real world, and not just the fantasy, a little more than the other boys.

“When Gansey was polite, it made him powerful. When Adam was polite, he was giving power away.”

Noah. Noah. Finding out about Noah is what kept me turning pages well into the night. Finding out about Noah is what got me through hard work days waiting to get home and pick up my book again. Finding out about Noah makes this book addictive. And no more will be said on this – so go and read this book NOW and find out about Noah.

“Noah appeared beside Blue. He looked joyful and adoring, like a Labrador retriever.”

Blue is a little strange. But that’s probably because her mother is a psychic – no, for real – and she lives with several other psychics; women who can actually, quite specifically, see things. Even if Blue can’t. Blue, who exaggerates the energy around her, drives the story forward, and holds the power of the most thrilling, and possibly important, piece of information that we are given at the very beginning of the book – in less than twelve months, Gansey will die. Aside from not really liking her name, (like Gansey, I prefer Jane) Blue herself is likeable enough, even though I didn’t really relate to her as much as I related to Gansey and Adam.

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

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Then, of course, there’s the writing. I’ve read Maggie Steifvater books before, but it was the stories that stayed with me then, not necessarily the writing. The Raven Boys however, will stay with me for both. The language, the sentences and the images that are provoked – as an English major and someone who has not only studied language and it’s use in literature, but just as someone who just loves language – this book was magical.

You don’t need to love the fantasy genre to love this book. The character development is amazing, the story is a lovely, overarching masterpiece of language, with each character having their own arch intertwined within it. I recommend this series to anyone who loves getting lost in a book, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

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.

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If you need to be enticed further, here is a fanmade vid to whet your appetite:

Seriously – we NEED Netflix to take this up – I would watch the crap out of this show.

Images: here, here, here,

Ready Player One, Book Review

Author:Ernest Cline
Published: 2011

A perfect feat of nostalgic charm, fangirl satisfaction and completely engrossing storyline.

This book has stolen my heart. It’s so wonderfully written, and so absolutely, insanely clever. It’s been a really long time since I read a book that struck so many chords in me, brought out so many emotions, and brought out a large amount of huge, no-holds-barred, fangirl grins.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

The book follows our not-so-heroic hero, Wade. After billionaire game-creator James Halliday dies, leaving his fortune up for grabs in a virtual scavenger hunt, the world goes crazy. But when no one has found anything after five years, the competition, while not forgotten, has lost it’s momentum. That is, until Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, finds something. And that’s where the book takes off.

RP1-aestheticI was born in the 80’s and a lot of the references are things that I grew up watching, reading or loving. To have all of these things that I’ve loved in some capacity or another, as a child and an adult, feature so seamlessly in a story that was so contemporary was utterly joyous. But even so, all these great tugs at my heart strings aside, the story was completely engrossing. It started off a little slow, but once it got going, it swallowed me up and I was hooked, dying to know how our heroes would defeat the guys that you can tell were just written to be hated.

Without digging too deeply, and getting all philosophical, this book is just good old fashioned fun to read. I related to more than one of the characters and I cared enough about them to be concerned by what was happening to them – I was dragged into their world and for me that makes a good book.

In a classic battle of Good vs. Evil, and a Star Wars like charm of a rag-tag band of misfits joining in their pursuit to save the world, this book really has everything a fangirl could want and more. recommended to anyone who loves a great science fiction story with a little bit of a love story, loads of texture and a brilliant and gripping ending sequence!

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Imges via: here, here

Read Me Like a Book, Book Review

Author: Liz Kessler   

Published: May 2015 by Indigo

This book spoke to me.

There are several reasons that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. One of them is definitely the writing – so easy and flowing, the type of writing that prevents you putting the book down willingly. Another is the story, it’s so simple and so relatable that it just sucked me right in and didn’t want to let me go. Last was Ash – I saw so much of my younger self in her that there was no way I wasn’t gonna fall in love with her.

The premise is simple:

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her . . .

Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

readmelikeabookI think there need to be more books like this one going around, no fairy-tale crap, no misleading happy endings. Just real feelings, real characters, a disarming sense of loss but no life stunting sadness (think Twilight and Bella’s ridiculous breakdown) – this story feels real. It’s real life and it’s really relatable; chances are that we’ve all had an unrequited crush on someone – and its crappy, but it’s not the end of the world. And this book tackles that beautifully.

I loved Ash. She reminded me so much of a teenage version of myself, back when emotions – particularly those that you haven’t experienced before – can be insanely confusing. Ash deals with things in a normal, teenage way: she withdraws, she lashes out, she bottles things in, she fights with her friends, she makes silly mistakes and wrong moves; Ash is just so very relatable and I love her persona so much. In fact, I’m sure I’d put my love for this book down to Ash and her character, and how well she is written.

Unrequited love is harsh. It’s cold and lonely and confusing, particularly when the receiving end is a teacher. Even more so if they are the same-sex as you. Discovering yourself as a teenager is hard, its complicated and it takes a certain amount of bravery. Liz Kessler writes this so poetically that it is integrated almost seamlessly into her amazing story. This is the type of book I would have read a hundred times during high-school had it been available to me back then, purely on the basis that someone, somewhere, knew how it felt to feel like you weren’t normal, but so totally normal at the same time; like everyone knew who you were but you and they were all waiting for you to catch up.

The actual story itself isn’t very difficult to follow – it’s a simple love story: girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy likes girl, girl realises she doesn’t really like boy, girl likes teacher, teacher doesn’t like girl like that, girl feels rejected and confused… (okay, maybe not so simple.) But simple as it may be, the story is utterly engaging, it’s completely enthralling and it just left me wanting more. Honestly, it was a lovely, honest and sweet coming out story, there’s nothing over-the-top or smothering about this book, and I would recommend it to anyone; gay, straight or left-handed.

The story also deals with the separation of Ash’s parents and the breakdown of their marriage. This is not something I have experienced myself, but was still detailed throughout the story in a way that I could still relate to what Ash was feeling. The character growth that pulls Ash through the book is wonderfully written, and also not so much so that she comes out the other end a totally different person; I really liked that Ash still felt like the same character at the end as at the beginning, yet subtly different, enough so that we can figure she really has done a decent amount of self-discovering through-out the book.

Added bonus: I am an English fanatic, I loved it in high school, I majored in it at Uni, I am a readaholic adult and I just love writing. So the fact that this story not only focuses on Ash’s English teacher, but also her own growing adoration of studying English really engaged me. Loved it.

Brutally honest and unceasingly charming, this book should be read by teenagers (and adults) the world over.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading ChallengeA Book Set in Another Country

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