Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA fantasy
Date Read: 23/12/2015 – 26/12/2015
Rating: ★★★☆

Review:

ravenboyscoverThis was a tricky book for me to rate, and I wavered between three and four, before deciding to split the difference. It was a very easy read, and didn’t take me long to get through, but it did feel like I was reading a lot of set-up for future books.

Blue Sargent comes from a family of psychics, though she has no psychic ability herself. When she sees the spirit of a boy named Gansey on St Mark’s Eve, it sets into motion an association with a group of boys from the local private boy’s school, and a search for the grave of Owen Glendower, a Welsh King that Gansey believes is buried in America.

The characters are all have very individual personalities. Gansey is wealthy and privileged and puts his foot in his mouth a lot because of that; Ronan has a lot of baggage and a lot of secrets; Adam comes from an abusive household and resents the privilege around him; and Noah, the quiet observer. Blue’s character is primarily linked to her psychic family; she was a fairly standard teenage girl character, and something of a means to an end-type character (while not psychic herself, she can amplify psychic energy for others).

While there was some interesting world-building based on the idea of magical ley lines across the world, it was sometimes a bit patchy. Big revelations never really felt particularly huge, or they were easy to predict.

Overall, it was an interesting enough read that I stayed up quite late to finish it, and I actually am still interested enough to continue with the series, but this wasn’t quite exciting enough to be plot-driven, and the characters weren’t quite stand-out enough to carry it as a character-driven one.

 

 

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 09 September, 2015

The weeks are flying by and it’s once again time for a Wednesday blog post. How does that keep happening? Anyway. First up this week is WWW Wednesday, a blog hop in which we answer three questions about what we’re reading. This is hosted by Sam, and you can visit her blog to take part. Here are my answers:

  • wwwwednesdayWhat are you currently reading?

I’m still reading A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. It took a little while to get into but now that I’m there, it’s becoming quite enjoyable. I’m also listening to Blood Charged by Lindsay Buroker. This series is a great deal of fun. Though every time I go to that page, I get distracted by the attractive man on the cover.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I dropped The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (the style and language just weren’t doing it for me), but it’s been a slow reading week, so I haven’t actually touched anything else.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

My colleague has loaned me The Gone-Away World, so I should probably start that. It’s fairly long, though, so I’ll probably have something else going at the same time. No idea what, though. I also have a bunch of audio books, including The Museum of Thieves and A Ghost in my Suitcase, because I’m going to Melbourne on the weekend and there will be about eight hours of travelling all up, plus airport waiting time. Oh! And the Hollow Boy comes out next week! I’ve only been waiting a year!

I think that’s the shortest WWW I’ve ever managed. You can tell it’s been a slow reading week for me.

wippetwednesdayI had a breakthrough last night with the new fantasy story I shared from last week. And that breakthrough led to more breakthroughs, which has been quite delightful. It does mean that a lot of what I had already written doesn’t actually work anymore, but I should still be able to incorporate the gist. And sometimes you need to write the stuff that never gets used in order to find the plot that will. For my WIPpet math this week, I’m taking nine (handwritten) lines from my notebook. Nell is overhearing a wee-hours conversation between Jasper and a stranger at the door.

“Jasper Cortain?” A young woman’s enquiring voice floated up the stairs, and Nell saw her foster father nod. “Sir, I’m sorry to wake you up so late, but I need your help.”

She paused, and Nell saw her open her hand out towards Jasper. Nell couldn’t see what was in it, but as soon as Jasper saw whatever it was, he bowed low.

Ooooooh.

Join in on WIPpet Wednesday by posting an excerpt from your current WIP that somehow relates to the date. Then link up with us here.

I only have four pages left in my notebook! Could I fill them tonight? Maybe. It’s always really exciting getting to start a new one. It is late though. I should probably just head to bed. I have first aid refresher training all day tomorrow, but I have had a sore throat for most of today. It’s still hanging around, but since this training is only once every twelve months, I really feel like I should only skip it if I’m dying. I’m not sure if work would pay for me to go do one of the external refresher courses if I miss the internal one. Anyway. I should stop rambling! Goodnight everyone!

~ Emily

Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Title: The Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman
Genre: Fantasy
Date Read:
31/07/2014 – 06/08/2014
Rating: ★★★

Review:

princessbridecoverYou’re probably looking at those three measly stars up there and thinking, “What?! How can she rate such a classic anything less than 5/5?!?!?!” Well… pretty easily, in fact. I feel like this book was trying to be clever and missing the mark. I felt like it told me way too much rather than showing me. I thought the fictional personal of the author was kind of a jerk. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Most people will know the story of the Princess Bride from the classic 1987 movie starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, even if they’ve never read the book. For those that don’t, it goes like this: Buttercup and Westley are in love, but Westley leaves to make his fortune. Unfortunately, he is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts, and Buttercup resigns herself to never seeing him again. She becomes engaged to Prince Humperdink, who has ulterior motives, including framing the neighbouring country for Buttercup’s murder so he can have himself a war. The book also as an extra layer: supposedly, Goldman is abridging a book his father read him as a child, by the great Florinese satirist, S. Morgenstern . When he gave a copy to his own son to read, he discovered that in fact his own father had chopped out the boring bits and just left in the exciting, adventure stuff. Every now and then Goldman interrupts the narrative to give us a rundown of what he’s chopping out, or commentary on what we’ve just read.

… and that was so fricking annoying. I didn’t like being told that there was description I was missing, or that so-and-so from such-and-such university says this is a perfect example of Morgenstern‘s brilliant satire but he found it boring so out it goes. This would have been a perfectly acceptable fun, adventure story without any of the commentary. That coupled with Goldman’s frankly sexist remarks about his wife (not to mention the sexism that was running through the story itself… at one point Westley tells Buttercup in so many words that she is his property and has to do as she’s told), and his pretty disrespectful remarks about his son, and it felt like he was trying really hard to not endear himself to me. And if he was doing that, why should I care about reading his favourite book in the world?.

What I did like? I really liked the back-stories of the side characters. We got to see Inigo Montoya’s childhood, and his training to become the master swordsman that he is by the time the story takes place. We got to see how Fezzik came to be involved with Vizzini’s group (his obsession with rhymes makes a bit more sense in the book than in the movie, where it just seems to be something he does for the hell of it). Hell, even Prince Humperdinck was well-rounded. A well-rounded manipulative jerkwad, but well-rounded nonetheless. The best scenes were the ones with these characters, as well. To be honest, Westley and Buttercup are pretty bland characters… their only motivation is “twu wuv”, Buttercup’s only talent is her beauty and Westley has the opposite problem of being talented at everything, bordering on Gary Stu territory.

So yes. That’s why I’m giving a supposed perfect, amazing, classic just three stars. I’m sorry.