Sunday, 26 June 2016

Mini Reviews: The Raven Cycle series - Maggie Stiefvater

Written by: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, Book #1
Published by: Scholastic
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 454
Purchase from: Amazon  |  Book Depository

Even if Blue hadn't been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble.
But this is the year that everything will change for Blue.
This is the year that she will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover that magic does exist. 
This is the year she will fall in love.
This series has been super hyped, which has always really intimidated me, making me put off buying it because I didn't want to not like it. But finally, after pulling up my big girl pants, I worked up the courage and brought the first book The Raven Boys and before I was even half way through the story I had already added the rest of the series to my shopping cart. It was just that intriguing, that complex and that brilliant that I couldn't wait to read the next three straight after. I was so invested that for the first time in a long time I wanted to marathon the whole series and that is exactly what I did. 
“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”
All in all, The Raven Boys sets the scene extremely well. While it was a little slow to start, and I felt as though I was dragging my way through the first third of the book, it really picked up towards the middle and I started to race through the pages. It was so cleverly panned out that the whole thing was one subtle but complex curve ball. It answered questions by asking more and it narrated the story line by continuously developing more mysteries. I was completely enthralled, there was no reason to guess what would happen because I would probably end up wrong. And that right there was the main reason I loved this book. Yes the characters were brilliant and yes I did like the back story and history intertwined within the plot, but I stayed because of the mystery. I stayed because no matter how many predictions I made, I was always completely surprised by the little twists that sprung up. It made it interesting and it made the story that much better. 

Written by: Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Raven Cycle, Book #2
Published by: Scholastic
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 450
Purchase from: Amazon  |  Book Depository

Blue didn't mean to fall for the Raven Boys, but she has - and the more her life entwines with theirs, the more dangerous it becomes.
Ronan is the most dangerous of all.
He's the haunted one, the darkest, the most raven.
His dreams invade reality and confuse what is true.
With magic growing stronger around them, now is a time to be wary. Before everything unravels... 
Friendships will be tested. 
Someone will get hurt.
And a kiss will be shared.
When I stated the second book I think it was safe to say my expectations were extremely high and maybe because of that I just didn't get as invested in the sequel as I did with The Raven Boys. Now that's not to say that this wasn't still an amazing book, because it it's own way, I just didn't enjoy it as I much as I thought it would. The story felt slightly sluggish, not as fast paced as I thought it would and I don't know I felt that it lacked that little bit of sparkle that the first book displayed so well. 
“He was brother to a liar and brother to an angel, son of a dream and son of a dreamer.”
Yet, what this book really excelled at was the character developments. Probably due to the fact that it went into one characters backstory to great lengths, that character being Ronan, and in turn it shined a small light on the other characters also. So while the storyline wasn't edge of your seat amazing it did crawl its way back up the expectations pole with how well it delved into the relationships of the characters. I fell a little more in love with all of them (except Adam, I really did not like Adam) with each unfolding chapter. My heart melted with Blue and Gansey, those two were just too cute for words, and Ronan was just...well Ronan, all brash and sharp edges with a really caring and calm centre, you're typical bad boy mix. But the real star of this story wasn't a character it was the writing. The story was extremely intelligently written, just not as gripping as the first, which is why I didn't enjoy it as much. 

Written by: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, Book #3
Published by: Scholastic
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 389
Purchase from: Amazon  |  Book Depository

For the first time in her life, Blue Sargent has found a place where she feels at home. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own and she is sure that this is where she belongs.
But certainties can unravel.
Visions can mislead.
And friends can Betray.
The trick with found things is how easily they can be lost...

Out of the four books, I think this one is my favourite. What I found lacking in the second book was answered in this one. So take the brilliant character development in the first one and add it too the amazing plot development in the first and you have the talented third book as the result. 
“There was something unfamiliar about him. Something ferocious about his eyes, some sort of bite in his faint smile. Something altogether hectic and unsettled. She stood on the ledge of his smile and looked over the edge.”
The only minuscule thing I found wasn't quite right with me was how much Gansey has lost himself since the first book. Maybe it's just me being picky and maybe it's because he's my favourite character but I really felt as though he had been given the short straw by this installment. At the beginning It was Gansey's quest, he was the leader, he knew the answers and he was determined to have them answered. But by this book he was a shadow of his former self, no longer displaying the qualities that shone through the first book and that just didn't sit right with me. He was rallying the troops in the first book, it was the main thing that made him Gansey, but by this one he was the one that needed rallying and he was the one that felt as though he was being dragged along. 

Written by: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, Book #4
Published by: Scholastic
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 438
Purchase from: Amazon  |  Book Depository

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he's drawn others into his mission: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a life; and Blue, who loves Gansey...and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Nothing dead is to be trusted.
Now the endgame has begun.
Nothing living is safe.
Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and Loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path. 

Finally we come to the final book in the series, and truth be told I was a little sad it was over. This series was absolutely amazing in keeping me engaged through the length of it. As soon as I finished one book I felt the compelling need to pick up the other and continue on, I had to know the outcome no matter what the cost. Which I've not really felt in a long time when it comes to whole book series. By the time the third or forth book has come out the buzz of the previous books has died down and I'm not as invested as I was at the start of the series, which definitely not the case with The Raven Cycle. I was addicted to the outcome and I'm not ashamed to admit that.
“He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn't want it to be over.”
This final instalment rounded up all the little pieces into a nice little bow. While everything was given an answer and the long awaited legend of the king was finally revealed, in my eyes it ended a little abruptly. In other words the other three books pacing was slow and methodical, the story kept the pace up with the thrilling mysteries but it took its time in answering the really important questions, whereas this book felt as though it thrown together. It was still a brilliant and intelligent book, just not as well paced. and that in turn let it down slightly for me. Having said this, I really loved this series as a whole, the whole entire story was chillingly thrilling and it sent shivers down my spine every time I started the next book. I just couldn't wait to crack it open. It was brilliantly written and developed throughout and I never was able to get enough of what was inside. 
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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Review: Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Written by: Jojo Moyes
Published by: Penguin Random House UK
Edition: Film Tie-in Paperback
Pages: 481
Purchase from: Amazon  | Book Depository

Lou Clark knows lots of things.
She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn't know is she is about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now, and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

After seeing Emilia Clarke in an interview for the film adaptation of Me Before You I felt this undeniable urge to finally pick up this novel, after of months of putting it off because of the hype, and get stuck in. I am so glad I did because it has undoubtedly been worth all the talk and all the fantastic reviews. It is simply perfect. Me Before You follows Lou Clark as she adjusts to her unexpected career change that ultimately turns her comfortable life up side down. Before Will Traynor she was happy with living life under the radar, just going from day to day not really wanting to shake things up. Whereas Will Traynor's accident has changed him in a way that is a whole lot of something that cannot really be explained without giving away so many spoilers. This story just swallows you whole and you get stuck into the character's progression like no other. It was heart-wrenchingly amazing, don't let the hype fool you because this book is well worth it. 
'Push yourself. Don't settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.'
If there is one this that sets this book on the pedestal that it so rightly deserves it is the characters. Their little quirks and annoyances really added just that extra sense of realism. They weren't perfect, far from it, yet they were so maddeningly realistic that I really fell hook line and sinker for each and every one of them. The development of each of them is so subtle and so genuine that it really gives it that extra umph, that extra punch to the throat of sadness that you just can't keep back. For a book that has a really controversial plot I really understood each side, making me so conflicted. I wanted to be angry but I understood, I wanted to scream at how wrong things were but I really couldn't judge. It was perfect in explaining and connecting you to each characters thoughts and reasons that I just loved how angry you felt at the end because it was like you couldn't choose how right or wrong things stood, which I thought is how things unconditionally should be. It took me on an emotional joyride that never let up even when I was on the last word of the last page. It just keeps on going, way after the book is finished. 
'I will never, ever regret the things I've done. Because most days, all you have are the places in your memory that you can go to.'
Ultimately if your looking for a romance novel, this book is not it. Yes there is underlining love between the two characters but what it mainly focuses on is the something so much more. It really gets you thinking on an issue that is seen as controversial but it is written in a way that no stone is left unturned when it comes to the values and reasons of this issue. You get to see both sides, and it is done in such a brilliant way that at the end of it you are still left analysing the situation and the what ifs. What would you really do if you were in a situation like this? 
'"Hey Clark," he said."Tell me something good."'
All in all, I thought this book was perfect and I am so amped up for the movie and just how it will get played out on screen. I cannot wait to get stuck into more of JoJo Moyes novels because if they are written anything like this I can know, without a shadow of a doubt, they will catapult on to my all time favourites. 

Me Before You
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