#WWW Wednesday – May 4, 2016

Happy Star Wars Day!

(I’m not actually even a Star Wars fan, really, but that is beside the point)

It’s also Wednesday, which means WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop in which we answer questions about what we’ve been reading this past week. This is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in by commenting on today’s post over on her blog.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

A Gathering of Shadows FinalI’ve read a little more of The Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel but really do need to commit to this properly again. Unfortunately, that might not happen until I have got through my pile of library books.

I started A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab after feeling so dissatisfied with The Raven King (more on that below). I needed a strong urban fantasy that actually would live up to my expectations.

Having said all of that, my life got overtaken by uni this week as I had a report worth 40% of my grade due today, so I haven’t been reading very much. When I stopped writing each night I was more likely to go to Netflix than my book, just because the attention required was far less. (Related: everyone should watch Call the Midwife)

  • What did you recently finish reading?

ravenkingcoverI finished The Raven King, and asadfjkh, I was really disappointed! If it had been its own book, it probably would have been fine, but as the fourth and final book in a series, it really needed to ramp up the epicness a lot.

My reviews of the Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Book 3) and The Raven King both went up this week.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is due back to the library in a week (damn these popular books with their loan period of only two weeks!), so I’m probably going to need to put my ebooks aside for a bit and read that. I still have some uni work to complete, but I’m hoping some solid work on the weekends will pretty much see me through that. This semester has been a bit of a struggle; I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

For now, I think it’s time to pop on another episode of Call the Midwife. See you all later!~ Emily

“The definitions of possible and impossible were negotiable these days” // Review of “The Raven King” by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven King (Raven Cycle #4)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Date Read: 26/04/2016 – 29/04/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

ravenkingcoverI am honestly going to struggle to write this review. As with the first book, I had trouble deciding what to rate this one, though this time the debate was between 2 and 3, rather than 3 and 4. I’m feeling generous, so I went higher.
I had hoped for something really epic to conclude this series. I know that a lot of people felt this book achieved that, but I found that while I liked several parts of it, a lot of it ended up anti-climactic and unsatisfying. I think my biggest issue is that Maggie Stiefvater tried to do an awful lot of things in not very many pages, and thus it all fell a bit flat.

Cabeswater is dying. It is affecting Adam because of his pledge to it in an earlier book, and it is affecting Ronan in his dreams. The only way to save the forest is for someone to willingly sacrifice themselves on the ley line. Meanwhile, Piper Greenmantle thinks she is in control of things and is drawing more dangerous people to Henrietta than ever before.

Between Cabeswater dying, Piper’s shenanigans (I’m trying not to be too spoilery about that, because it is quite integral to the book’s events), the search for Glendower continuing, new characters being introduced, Blue learning some strange and interesting things about her heritage, our main characters finding out about a black market of magical items that their friends and families have been involved in… it was a lot to cover, and too much for any one of these events to really be given adequate time for exploration.

There were also several loose ends that never really got tied up. Does anyone even know what happened to Noah?

This all makes me a bit sad, because I have been recommending this series, but I think I will now have to recommend it with the caveat that the ending falls a bit flat.

This is a link to my review of this book on GoodReads, where I’ve also noted a lot of specific things that bothered me under a spoiler tag. If you’ve already read the book, or if spoilers don’t bother you, go check that out, too.

“They were all in love with one another.” // Review of Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Date Read: 20/04/2016 – 22/04/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

bluelilycoverIt may be because I rushed into this book very quickly after reading the second one, but unlike with the last installment of The Raven Cycle, I found this one dragging on a bit, in spite of the introduction of new characters and further exploration of the setting.

In Blue Lily, Lily Blue, our characters are further exploring the ley line, and a potential second one that lies perpendicular to it. Greenmantle,  the Grey Man’s employer from the previous book, and his wife have arrived in town to continue their own search for the Greywaren. Adam’s day in court with his father is approaching, Blue’s mother is still missing, and Blue and Gansey are still pretending that they might be able to fall in love one day without any obstacles.

While the mythology of the series is explored further, and the characters make exciting discoveries regarding this, as with book one, I felt that the stakes were never especially high. Things seemed to get fixed quite easily, and I felt like I was sometimes brought into the start of an important scene, only for the author to decide the conclusion of that scene wasn’t really worth including. Adam’s day in court was the stand-out for this issue, though it happened more than once; while I can see why it was necessary to include the entire court scene when the important character-related stuff was at the start, I felt like there could have been another way to have Adam come to the same realisations, without me turning the page and feeling like I had missed a chapter.

I have hopes that the fourth book in the series will not have these same issues. The climax that the series has been building towards will be reached, and hopefully we’ll get a decent fall-out from that. All remains to be seen.

#WWW Wednesday – April 27, 2016

It is Wednesday, and that means WWW Wednesday! Yaaaay! WWW Wednesday is a blog hop in which we answer questions about what we’ve been reading this past week. This is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in by commenting on today’s post over on her blog.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

I purchased The Raven King, the 4th book in the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, when it was released yesterday. At time of writing this post, I’m about 25% into it and… well, I was hoping the final book in the series would be a bit more exciting? Cabeswater is being a bit weird, and there have been a couple of important conversations, but mostly it’s just sort of ambling on…

edgeofdarkcoverI also read about 30% of The Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel during train journeys on the weekend. I would have read a lot more except I spent a lot of the travel time sleeping. I plan to get back to this as soon as I’m done with the Raven King. I honestly don’t read a lot of high fantasy, but I do recommend this series.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

bluelilycoverI finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, the third in the Raven Cycle. I was actually a bit disappointed in that one. I felt the story was really starting to drag, and I think that’s why I’m feeling especially disappointed that the new book doesn’t really seem to be picking up the pace. Review goes up on Friday. Speaking of reviews, mine for The Dream Thieves (Book 2) went up on Monday.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I gave up waiting for my library’s on order of A Gathering of Shadows, the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, to come in, and bought the ebook. I imagine that will be next, before all the hype wears down (I know, that’s not something people say all that often, but this is one where I want to share in the excitement!).

Two of my holds came in at the library this week, and I also just randomly picked up two more library books as well. They are, in no particular order:riversoflondoncover

So that’s my next few weeks’ reading cut out for me, I think!

What have you been reading this week? Any recommendations?

~ Emily

“Dream me the world, something new for every night” // Review of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre:
YA/Fantasy
Date Read: 15/04/2016 – 18/04/2016
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

dreamthievescoverI’m fairly sure that my reactions to parts of this book are basically what people are talking about when they talk about being drunk on writing. I wanted to soak up this book in one sitting, though sadly, real life got in the way of that. There were parts of this book that I thought were worthy of five stars, though sadly, there were other parts that brought me back down again. Having said all that, it proved to me that I had clearly been in the wrong mood for the first book, which I enjoyed, but had nothing like this reaction to. I was trying to read it over Christmas, though, and that’s hardly the time for really absorbing something. You can read my review of the first book here.

I couldn’t say a lot actually happens in The Dream Thieves. It’s more dealing with the fallout from the first book. The most substantial part of the plot focuses on Ronan, as it explores his talent for taking things from his dreams in more detail. There is also some relationship stuff, which I would hesitate to label “romance” just because of the nature of it all, but it does fall under that category.

It was definitely interesting learning more about Ronan, and there were parts where I was really on his side, but then other scenes took him too far away from the point where I could really connect or sympathise with him anymore; sometimes he was just too destructive. My favourite scenes actually didn’t involve him at all.

I finished this book on a Monday and was dying for it to be Wednesday and pay day so I could buy the next book. To be honest, it’s been a little while since I got that involved in a book. I’m so glad I didn’t write this series off after only mildly enjoying the first book.

#WWW Wednesday – 20 April, 2016

First of all, how is it April 20 already?! I mean, really.

Second, it is Wednesday, and that means WWW Wednesday! Yaaaay! WWW Wednesday is a blog hop in which we answer questions about what we’ve been reading this past week. This is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in by commenting on today’s post over on her blog.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

Currently reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. Blue and Gansey are quite likely to be the death of me. I’ve got way more invested in them and their non-relationship than I ever expected.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I finished A Stolen Kiss by Kelsey Keating. It was cute, but nothing mind-blowing, and read quite young given the characters were supposed to be in their late teens. My review is here.

After that I read The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, which is the second book in the Raven Cycle, and the one before Blue Lily, Lily Blue. It made me conclude that I was simply not in the right mood for The Raven Boys when I read it over Christmas. I didn’t really have the opportunity to absorb the writing properly. Funnily enough, even though Ronan is the focal character in this book, the majority of my favourite moments in it did not involve him. I will try not to gush too much here; my review is going up either Friday or Monday, depending when I have time to finish writing it.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I want to read the Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel, which is the last book in her Darkness & Light trilogy.

I also plan on reading The Raven King, the fourth Raven Cycle book, when it comes out next week. I hadn’t actually deliberately started reading the other books just in time for this one’s release, but the timing was fortuitous. I knew it was coming out at the end of April, but in my head, the end of April was still months away. I am currently torn between not wanting to Gansey to die because I’ve gotten attached to him, and feeling like after three books of set-up, it would feel like a cop-out if they find a way around him dying.

Funny story before I go: a couple of days ago I discovered that the author of Greythorne, a book I’ve had on my TBR since November last year, is the wife of a guy I met last year when I was in My Fair Lady. I had no idea that this book was even Australian, let alone that I had played board games at the author’s house just a few weeks ago. So I’m probably going to bump that one a bit further up my TBR, but it’ll probably be a May read at this point.

I should probably get a move on because I need to do a decent chunk of uni work tonight, so I’ll catch you all later!

~ Emily

A Disney movie in a book // Review of “A Stolen Kiss” by Kelsey Keating

Title: A Stolen Kiss
Author: Kelsey Keating
Genre: YA (MG?)/Fantasy
Date Read: 11/04/2016 – 215/04/2016
Rating: ★★★☆

Review:

stolenkisscoverAfter trying to read another book that was turning out to be deadly dull, not to mention being swamped with uni work, a lighthearted, whimsical read was exactly what I needed, and this book delivered. I felt a bit like I was reading a Disney movie, and I mean that in the best way possible.

When Princess Maria cannot accept a marriage proposal thanks to a curse placed on her many years ago, she turns to Derric Harver for help. With the help of her lady’s maid and her betrothed, they set off to try to find the sorceress who laid the curse to see if they can persuade her to remove it, for the Princess’ own sake as well as the Kingdom’s.

This book had some really interesting characters. I think one of the reasons why this reminded me so much of a Disney movie was that everything Princess Maria said sounded like Rapunzel in my head – the two characters had very similar voices. Derric was also an endearing hero, probably the most thoroughly-constructed of the four leads. Sarah, the lady’s maid, came into her own later in the book, even though she did seem to be a bit of tag-along at first. And Prince Humphrey was also enjoyable. In fact, one of my favourite things about this book was the relationship between Maria and Humphrey. They were not interested in each other romantically at all, and were both very accepting of their fate to be married to unite their two kingdoms.

One of the reasons I have put MG in brackets in the header for this post is that I wasn’t entirely sure where the book sat in terms of age-group. This is mostly due to the style of the writing – while Princess Maria and Derric are both around eighteen, and Prince Humphrey is possibly a bit older, they all read about fifteen/sixteen, and Sarah even younger. The style of writing felt much younger than usual for a YA novel

The plot was fairly tightly-structured, though there were periods where it tended to go into “and then this issue came up, and they figured it out… and then this one came up, and they figured it out…” territory. The chapters in Frangalee Forest (I apologise if I have got the name wrong) felt particularly lagging, but once they got out of there and onto a new location, the plot picked itself up again. There were some details from this part of the story that ended up being relevant later, and that redeemed them a bit, though I still think there might have been a way to insert those without it going on as long as it did.

While there was nothing truly mind-blowing about this book, it was definitely cute, and what I needed at that moment. I recommend picking it up after you’ve had a few darker reads – it makes a good literary palette-cleanser.

(Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)