March Reading Wrap-Up/April TBR 2016

As can be seen from my March TBR, I intended to dedicate this month of reading to the first books in new YA series but, I think I tried to start a few too many series, so I got halfway through my TBR and then got a wee bit slumpy, so I decided to change things up a bit.

March Reads – Least Favourite to Most Favourite:

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Anthem for Doomed Youth – Wilfred Owen – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 – Review – This was a collection of the war poet’s greatest poems so I thought I’d stick this at the top as it isn’t really comparable to my other reads from this month. Wilfred Owen is one of my favourite poets and this mini anthology really did not disappoint. It had all the greats (Dulce et Decorum est, Futility, Strange Meeting, etc) and had a few I wasn’t so familiar with that have become new favourites of mine (Mental Cases). If you’re a fan of war poetry, I would wholeheartedly urge you to check this out.

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Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare – 🌟🌟🌟.5 – Review – I liked a lot but also I disliked quite a lot, too. Hm. I could not connect to Tessa. I SEVERELY disliked Mr. William Herondale. The plot twists were a tad predictable. But, I adored the Shadowhunter world and I really admired the rest of the supporting characters. Especially Jem ❤ He is everything.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling – 🌟🌟🌟.5 – Review – It took me SO LONG to finish this book. I was reading it in-between other books so I feel like I didn’t enjoy my reading experience of this book as much as I would have liked to, purely because it wasn’t my main focus. I still enjoyed it but I actually surprised myself and ended up preferring some aspects of the film over the book. Hopefully I’ll have more fun with Goblet of Fire.

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Rebel Belle – Rachel Hawkins – 🌟🌟🌟🌟 – Review – This book was so much fun! And quite different from what I usually read in the sense that it is not cliched/tropey at all. All of the characters are highly relatable, very realistic and don’t fall into any stereotypes. The narrative itself from our MC is hilarious and if you’re looking for a little something different, I’d highly recommend this read.

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The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater – 🌟🌟🌟🌟 – Review – This book was weird. But good weird. Amazing weird. With highly complex, three-dimensional characters, a brilliantly imagined world and lovely, poetic writing, Stiefvater has created an achingly refreshing story that I honestly cannot wait to continue on with. Thankfully, nearly all of the books in this quartet are already released, so I won’t have the agonizing wait of years!

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Currently Reading:
With the release of Lady Midnight and the show, Shadowhunters (which I’m not the hugest fan of, but somehow can’t stop watching 😂), I’m currently really in the mood for some Cassie Clare. I’m about 200 pages through City of Lost Souls and 100 pages through Clockwork Prince and I’m enjoying them both. I think I’m preferring Clockwork Prince at the mo – it’s already heaps stronger than its predecessor.

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What I love about the books in the Shadowhunter Chronicles is that they’re just intensely enjoyable, fast-paced, kind of light-hearted, funny reads with (mainly) great, memorable characters. The books don’t take themselves too seriously either so they’re just a lot of fun and I always find myself looking back on my reading experience of each book and feeling pretty happy.

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April TBR:
In lieu of my post concerning the reading of series, I have decided to make April a month of sequels. Especially seeing as I have just started reading 3 new series this past month, I think I seriously need to play catch-up! I don’t want to crowd my TBR with too many books for April as I want a little room for movement over the choice of what I read. So these two books I will definitely be reading and I am beyond excited to jump back into these story-worlds.

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I Might Read…

I’m unsure of what else I’ll be in the mood for this month. I kind of want to continue on with some more series but, now that it’s getting sunnier, I feel like I could possibly be more in the mood for some summery contemporaries?

If I decide to read some more sequels, I will read World After and The Dream Thieves. But, if I feel like a contemporary or two, I think I might go for I’ll Give You the Sun.

Who knows?! Maybe, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I’ll attempt to read all of these! 😂

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Book Review – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462Title: The Raven Boys (#1 The Raven Cycle)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Pages: 454
Genre: Young adult – Supernatural/Paranormal
Published by: Scholastic Press in 2012
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis on the Book:
“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 the Raven Boys, they can 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.”

My Thoughts:
Fundamentally, a character-driven story, full to the brim of mystery, magic, and myths. The Raven Boys had me sucked in from the very first page and I found it very difficult to put it back down again. It is, certainly, one of the most interesting stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading for a while.

I’ve had this book on my TBR shelf since it came out and I’m a little bit peeved at myself for not picking it up sooner. Prior to The Raven Cycle I had read every published Maggie Stiefvater book and absolutely loved each and every one of them, so I’m not sure why I thought this book would be any different. I picked it up due to the imminent release of the final book in the quartet and it in no way disappointed.

Stiefvater’s writing style undeniably pulls you in. The pace of the writing itself I felt was purposely slow and careful, with considerable care given to  the descriptions of the town of Henrietta and the cast of characters. Stiefvater’s style makes everything seem so real and doesn’t leave any room for confusion over what something is meant to look or feel like. I made note of so many quotes in this book, the writing was just so lovely and poetic.

“Watch for the devil. When there’s a god, there’s always a legion of devils.”

Also, the way Stiefvater handled the magical elements of this book gave me shivers at times (particularly when it came to chapter 23 – that gave me the creeps!) It was as though I could genuinely feel what the characters were feeling and I don’t think a book has ever really given me shivers like that before!

I spent a lot of this book thinking, ‘what the crap is going on,’ and this can frustrate me sometimes, but I think Stiefvater dealt with this aspect of the book really well and it just made this story even more mysterious as you try to work out, along with the characters, what everything actually means. I particularly enjoyed the way that some of the characters kept things hidden from other characters – this book was completely shrouded in mystery!

What I adored most about this novel, as always, were the characters. My favourite kind of stories (if you hadn’t already guessed!) are character-driven ones and that’s exactly what we get here. We spend a decent chunk of the book following the three main perspectives around before any real plot kicks in. Personally, I think it’s really important for us, as readers, to really get to know what makes a character tick before we get into any of the significant plot. I want to know exactly who they are, what their background is and how they interact with other characters. This element of story-building, with me, always has the power to make or break a novel. And Stiefvater has imagined for us some amazingly complex, well-rounded, three-dimensional characters that all have distinct personalities from one another. *Applauds*

Blue was a great leading lady. She was quite logical, forward-thinking and, as other people kept telling her, quite sensible (which prevented her from making any stupid decisions – YAY). Also, I liked how curious she was and how she wouldn’t let other people make decisions for her – she would use reason to make her case instead.

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

Her relationship with the other women in her household was nice to see, too. It’s not always that often we see protagonist-adult relationships feature so prominently in YA fiction, so the existence of these multiple relationships Blue had with the psychics added a sense of realness to the story.

Also, Blue had a great sense of humour. She was very quick-witted and on the ball and had me laughing out loud multiple times:

“Out of the blue?” Calla asked.
“I’d prefer if you didn’t use that expression,” Blue said.

We also follow Gansey’s perspective and it was very clear that he was the leader of the pack or, rather, the glue that held all the Raven Boys together. He was incredibly loyal to all his friends and he’d go to great lengths to ensure their protection. But he wasn’t without his faults and he did have a great tendency to mix up his words.

I felt I could really relate to Gansey as a character. He had a real sense of adventure and he was so passionate about his ambitions – I found him very endearing. I even decided to Google the myths and legends behind Gansey’s adventure myself, I felt so interested in the history behind it.

“His heart hurt with the wanting of it, the hurt no less painful for being difficult to explain.”

You really do empathise with each of the Raven Boys. They’ve all got their own stuff going on behind closed doors and you could really connect to each of them and understand their motives and their reasons for doing things. The group dynamics felt very realistic and they had a great back and forth. Not sure if I have a favourite Raven Boy just yet, though! I already feel quite attached to all these characters, so I’m feeling quite nervous for them for what could happen in the remaining instalments of the quartet.

The fact that there was only a hint of a romance sat really well with me. I think if it became any more overpowering, it would have been too much in this instalment.

The slow pace towards the beginning of the novel whilst we get to know our characters will not be for everyone, particularly those who love fast-paced, action-y types of novels – this definitely won’t be for you. Unless, of course, you’re willing to put in the effort because I would imagine, now that the groundwork is done, the sequels will have a lot more plot going on in them. But, that’s up to you.

The only negative thing I have to say about this book is in relation to the ending; I just felt as though it was a bit too abrupt for my liking. We spent so long getting to that end point and then it just finished – literally as soon as all the action occurred. The pace felt a little off here and the last chapter that attempted to give a bit of closure to this instalment of the series felt quite rushed and a tad noncommittal. Sort of like it was an afterthought to add it in. But apart from this small criticism, all good things!

Overall, I fell a little bit in love with this story – its mystery, its magic, its characters. Although it is a story that is a little bit out there, it is the type of novel you learn to embrace, the more you read. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a little something different in the YA urban fantasy-ish genre. Bring on the sequels!Stark Reviews Logo