Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review - The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“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.

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.
It's taken me a while to finish The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I started it a few times, but I'm on my 3rd copy since I first attempted to read it. It's gotten lost twice since I've moved so it kind of puts a damper on enjoyment. This says nothing about the book itself. It was fantastic. Once I was finally able to get in to it.

Blue is what I wish I could have been at 16. Heck, she's what I wish I could have been now. Personality-wise at least. She seems responsible, mature, and she doesn't really care what other people think about her. I don't think she gave Gansey an entirely fair shot when they first met, but in her defense he was kind of puffed up and egotistical. Like a guy who is rich and powerful and wants everyone to know it.

Gansey is the kind of person you have to really get to know to appreciate. Once you get past his name and his money, he's a pretty interesting person. Searching for mythological and magical ley lines and not-dead kings. He's the kind of guy you go on adventures with. But he's also the kind of guy who can buy his way out of trouble.

Adam and Ronan were probably my favorite characters out of the 4 boys. Adam is just a small town boy (go ahead and sing that part) trying to make something of himself so that he can get out of where he is. Ronan is an angry, but super loyal, hothead who you definitely don't want to cross. If you'd put the two of them together they'd be like the perfect person. Compassionate but fierce. Loyal and looking to make his own way in life.

The story itself is absolutely magical (although, I am trying to figure out what a Virginian accent sounds like... apparently the boys all have a certain accent and being from Virginia, I'd like to know what it is... I'd always operated under the impression that Virginians don't really have accents unless you're from super south VA or you're Appalaichan, if its a cool accent then I feel left out... I want one). Hidden kings and corpse roads and clairvoyant families are just a little bit of what makes up The Raven Boys. And most of the good stuff happens after the first half of the book.

That's when we find out about Noah and his... "disability". That's when we meet the trees that can speak Latin and the teacher from Aglionby who will stop at nothing to find out everything Gansey knows and then use it to his advantage. Ok, so we met the teacher earlier, but didn't REALLY see his true colors until later on. Halfway through the book is when they travel in to the forest and through seasons and turn night in to day and time stops. It's just fantastical and it makes me wish that there truly were places like that here.

If you're a fan of Maggie Stiefvater then you need to read this book. If you like mythology and magical legends then you need to read this book. If you live in Virginia like I do, you should read this book. It's fine for all ages, although it may take an older reader to truly understand what's going on. Hopefully if you do buy the book you don't lose it as many times as I did!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review - Shadow Swarm by D. Robert Pease

Aberthol Nauile doesn’t know that he once led legions in a war that had raged since the dawn of time, against an enemy that could not be killed. He doesn’t know that he rode on a dragon with his father, or that his mother died while giving birth to him. He doesn’t know that he once saved his great, great, great grandfather by defeating the black enemy on the slopes of a volcano.

Aberthol doesn’t know that he beheld the creation of the world, as his grandfather eight generations before took the planet, ravaged by a war of the gods, and began anew.

All he knows is that he awoke in a coffin deep within a tomb, and now the whole world thinks he is their savior. All he really wants to know is his name, and why he keeps hearing voices in his head.
Can you imagine waking up in a tomb, not knowing who you are, where you are, or why you're there? That's how Shadow Swarm by D. Robert Pease begins.

Aberthol is told that he is king and that this is basically his "rebirth". Everyone expects him to have all the answers. But he doesn't. What's worse is that mere moments after being presented to the city that has waited for him for hundreds of years, or at least... to an empty courtyard in the city, tragedy befalls and people are killed. With the help of the granddaughter of the man who was supposed to help Aberthol remember who he was and the history of his family, he manages to escape.

First, I would like to say that I looked back through my books read this year and noticed I haven't really read an epic-like fantasy all year. I've read paranormal books, fairytale retellings, and science fiction... but nothing with dragons and people who fly and a king who's a descendant from a Creator. It was about time I remedied that.

It was an easy enough story to get drawn in to. I mean, it starts out a complete mystery. We find out the details of Aberthol and how he began where he did right along with him. However, it lost me for a bit. From the names that looked like someone just ran their fingers across the keyboard so they were impossible to pronounce to a song Elise sang that went on for pages and pages... I was worried I wouldn't finish it.

Elise is captured, however. And who attempts a rescue? Why, Aberthol and Elise's very own dead-but-not-dead father. WITH the aid of a golden dragon that I picture MUCH larger than the one on the cover of this book. Haha. He is a handsome thing though isn't he? Moving on... in their quest to rescue Elise, Aberthol and her father discover that myths passed down from generation to generation are, in fact, truth. And that truth ends up needing to be rescued and fought for just as much as the kingdom that Aberthol has been told he's in charge of.

I think that's something everyone has dreamed of at one time or another right? That something they thought was merely fairytale or folk lore would end up being true? Aberthol allies himself with dragon and people who can fly.

The more I read this the more I picture Avatar the Last Airbender. That's how I see Aberthol. Latest in a long line of this particular type of man who is supposed to be the good in the world. Who has the power to heal and kind of journeys in to his own "spirit world" seeing visions of the past and visions of things that could have been or of people who he has never truly known but are as real to him as he is.

It's a good story. I'm glad I stuck it out. The imagery and description in this book is just absolutely amazing and almost lyrical in how it's portrayed and delivered. Things are described in such detail that I can picture them in my mind as I read them. And with fantasy stories that's always one of the best parts.

I'd have to say one of my favorite characters is the dragon, Dwairomore. He is ancient and wise and friendly. And I loved the way that he spoke.
"No one that doth achieve great things ever sets out to do them. Only when thou dost think thyself worthy of greatness will all hope be lost... Remember, thou needs only to call and I shall come."

It's extremely poetic and something I haven't seen done in any other book that I've read (the Bible aside).

If you're like me and have yet to read a true fantasy novel this year, this one is for you. If you like tales of magical and mystical things like people with wings and dragons and kings of old this is for you. If you like quests and battles and good vs. evil this book is definitely for you.


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