ARC Review: Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
ARC Review: A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole
Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
****Huge thank you to HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!****
Trigger Warning: Animal Abuse & Experimentation
This book really surprised me in the best possible way, I was not expecting to love it this much!
“A Conspiracy of Stars” is a bit slow to start as it slowly introduces us to the characters and the planet of Faloiv, however, world building and plot were definitely enough to keep my interest regardless of the slower pacing. The pacing and action really does pick up in the second half of the book though, there were some great twists!
As I mentioned there are some pretty great twists in this story, although many of them I found to be predictable but that didn’t make them any less enjoyable! However, the main focus of the story is on Octavia and her friends who are interns in the labs studying the local fauna. That’s all I want to really say since I don’t want to spoil anything! And that cliffhanger at the end was awesome and I will definitely be anticipating the sequel!
The world building was absolutely fantastic in this book, it’s very unique and creative but I would say it’s safe to compare it to Avatar (the movie, not the Last Airbender!) with the native people, Faloii, and native plants and creatures. I was enthralled with the planet of Faloii, there was a lot of detail and thought put into it and I really can’t wait for the sequel so I can learn more!
However, since a lot of the book focuses on the human settlers on Faloiv and their scientific experiments it can get very emotional at times. Some of the scientists are cruel and subject these poor creatures to cruel experiments, it’s heart-breaking. That being said there are good characters that do everything in their power to help though.
I also thought the writing flowed well and was very descriptive, although it would have been nice to get some more character description.
While I really liked the characters in this story I just felt like they were a little…distant at times. I do think that Octavia especially could have used a bit more personality as the main character and the side characters could have used a little more development too.
Octavia and her friends, in general, were all pretty likable and sweet. They must be protected at all costs because of their adorableness! I thought the friendships were portrayed positively and well, they were all very loyal to each other.
Even with the lack of character descriptions there were some hints at diversity in the characters too, such as many characters being described as having brown skin and one character who has two dads.
There is a bit of romance in this book and it definitely doesn’t take the spotlight at all, which is nice especially in YA. It’s also more slow burn and develops from a friendship, they were pretty cute!
What I Loved:
- World building
- Plot was interesting
- The writing was good
- Bit of diversity
- Well portrayed friendships
- Cute, slow burn romance that doesn’t take over the plot
What I Didn’t Love:
- Slower pacing
- Characters could have used a bit more complexity
I highly, highly recommend checking this book out! It’s beautifully written and is an incredibly unique YA Sci-Fi that really breaks the mold in my opinion.
Links: Amazon / Goodreads / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble
ARC Review: The Empress (The Diabolic #2) by S.J. Kincaid
****SPOILERS FOR “THE DIABOLIC” BELOW!****
It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.
But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.
Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?
**** Huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****
**** All of my reviews are spoiler free but if you haven’t read “The Diabolic” you may not want to continue. If you have read it then continue as you will not be spoiled here!****
Right when I didn’t think S.J. Kincaid could blow my mind any more, she did it again! I think it’s safe to say my mouth was open, jaw on the floor the entire time I was reading and that I’m also dying for the third book now. I NEED IT NOW! Prepare for a review that will probably mostly be me fangirling.
This review will be a bit shorter than usual since I don’t want to spoil anything but you can read my full review for “The Diabolic” here for a little more information!
If you were worried, like me, that “The Diabolic” should have remained a standalone and the sequel wouldn’t live up to it: don’t be worried. I was very satisfied with this book and now I’m happy that it turned out to be a series because what would I do if I didn’t have more of Nemesis?! I think this one is equally as enjoyable as “The Diabolic” but parts also weren’t as great, however, seeing as how we really waste ZERO time setting anything up it was better in that sense. Kincaid throws us right into the nitty gritty immediately.
Extremely fast pacing, I’m talking about the kind of pacing where you can’t turn the pages fast enough to keep reading! I am a sucker for fast pacing and “The Empress” did not disappoint whatsoever, as I mentioned we are thrown into a breakneck speed at the start and it doesn’t let up until the last page. There wasn’t a single dull or boring moment!
And the twists! The twists! There are so many ridiculously good twists in this book and I fell for every single one! At one point during the story I think there were about 3 major twists on ONE PAGE. So yeah you definitely will not be bored with this book! There is a ridiculous amount of action and I felt so many emotions while reading, mostly I got so enraged by the antagonist that I wanted to crawl into the book and pummel him…but hey that’s how you know they’re doing their job and the author is a fantastic writer!
I also really, really enjoyed that Kincaid expanded a lot more on the world building for this series, seeing as how in “The Diabolic” we didn’t get much. It’s definitely really interesting and also a bit of a shocker too!
If you’re a fan of political intrigue, you’ll definitely love this. Trust me. Trust me!
Kincaid’s writing packs the usual punch, and by that I mean it was fantastic and made me an emotional roller coaster the entire time I read this book.
Also that cliffhanger ending will destroy you so be prepared!
Really the only characters I continued to love were Nemesis and Tyrus and that’s simply because they’re really the only characters with any substance. They’re complex and develop A TON during the course of this story and really learn their limits. They both continue to be badasses out smarting everyone, which is all I will say!
There were a couple other secondary characters that were okay and came into the story a couple of times but they weren’t very complex or developed, in my opinion. Still they were there and definitely progressed the plot…..a lot.
The antagonist was pretty dang good though too in the sense that I wanted to choke them out the entire time…..just means they were well written because that’s what the author wanted you to think!
I burn. I pine. I perish for this romance! I will always and forever be a big fan of Nemesis/Tyrus especially since I’ve been rooting for them since “The Diabolic” so of course their wonderful romance continued on in this book and made my heart happy.
Overall, I was very impressed with this sequel! Usually sequels, specifically in trilogies, suffer from middle book syndrome in which they really drag on and are mostly there to set up the last book. However, “The Empress” suffered no such syndrome! It packed a huge punch and still managed to set up the last book magnificently!
What I Loved:
- Can I say literally everything?
- Twists and political intrigue
- Fast pacing, non stop action!
- Great writing
- Great main characters
- The romance
- Did I mention plot twists?
- Great additional world building
What I Didn’t Love:
- I kind of wish the secondary characters were a bit more important, but they did serve their purpose! (hence the 4.5 instead of full 5 star rating)
If you read “The Diabolic” and enjoyed it but aren’t sure if you want to read the sequel…do it. Just do it! It’s fantastic and I promise you, you will not be disappointed!
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
ARC Review: Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott
Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.
With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.
As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.
**** Thank you to Random House Children’s for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review ****
I was absolutely blown away by how much I ended up enjoying this book, it was not what I was expecting at all in the best way! I’ll be giving it an odd rating at 4.5 stars because I loved it but for some reason it still isn’t a five star read for me.
“Gray Wolf Island” is so much more than a tale of friends going to find a long, lost buried treasure, so, so, so much more! This is a very character driven book that focuses on the character’s self discovery, forgiveness, and coming to terms with their problems but still has a strong plot as well full of twists and adventure. It also has a very magical realism feel to it, there are certain elements of the story that are..well… magical. I loved it I thought it added so much atmosphere to the story and overall made it so much more fun.
The pacing should have been slower considering, as I mentioned, it’s more of a character driven book but it never felt like it was slow or dragging on at all. There was always something happening and always something to look forward too, plus there are some fantastic twists at the end of the story that you will not see coming at all!
The story is also told in two different perspectives one being Ruby the main character and the other being a strange boy who woke up on Gray Wolf Island with amnesia. I really enjoyed reading through both POVs as they were both interesting and important to the plot, I also thought the boy’s perspective added a lot of mystery to the overall atmosphere too.
One thing about the plot that bothered me slightly is that I felt the conclusion was a bit confusing and not really explained, which since it’s magical realism I can see why leaving it a mystery makes sense though. There were also a couple of plot holes with the character’s backstories but that’s all that bothered me.
Neithercott’s writing is also another amazing part of reading “Gray Wolf Island” it’s beautiful and lyrical which is perfect for the type of atmosphere she created for this story. Pretty writing and magical realism go hand in hand in my opinion. This felt similar to “The Raven Boys” and “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” so I would say if you enjoy Steifvater and Taylor’s writings you may enjoy this one as well.
It really is such a beautiful, heart-breaking story and prepare to get emotional!
As I mentioned the characters are the most important part of this book and they were all wonderful, seriously all of them! Every character was complex and well developed, they overcame many things and changed over the course of the story. They were all truly fantastic and I loved all of them.
Ruby is the main character and one of the POVs, the whole reason she is undertaking this quest to find the treasure is that it was her sister’s dying wish. She keeps her secrets and feelings close to home and is trying to find herself as she moves on from her sister’s death. I really adored Ruby I thought she was a very complex protagonist and she was actually pretty witty at times as well.
Elliot is a part of an old family that has been hunting the Gray Wolf Island treasure for generations and insists on helping Ruby find it. He’s very intelligent but tries playing “the bad boy”. He’s also a love interest for Ruby and I honestly shipped them so hard! Elliot was a great character, I adored him.
Then we have Gabe (Gabriel) who is the son of a virgin mother and the townspeople think him either a demon or divine claiming he has cursed them or helped heal them on different occasions. He’s very suave but there’s a lot more to him than he shows on the outside.
Charlie is the daredevil, fun loving character who likes to live every day as if it’s his last, which it may very well be since Charlie had a premonition of his own death when he was younger.
Lastly there’s Anne who doesn’t sleep, ever. She’s a very dreamy, eccentric girl but is more than excited to go on an adventure and make some friends.
All of these characters bond and create some very lasting friendships as they quest for their treasure. I loved how positive the friendships were portrayed as well.
There is a bit of a side romance between Elliot and Ruby but I was secretly rooting for it the entire time, they were adorable! I also liked that it was slow burn and didn’t take over the plot whatsoever.
Overall I really did love this book so much, the plot was engaging, and I was 100% invested in the characters.
What I Loved:
- The atmosphere with underlying bits of magical realism
- Dual POVs that really added to the mystery of the plot
- Good pacing
- Fantastic plot twists
- Beautiful, lyrical writing
- Absolutely fantastic, complex cast of characters
- I shipped the romance and it was slow burn!
What I Didn’t Love:
- Some confusing elements of the story
- Couple of plot holes with the character’s back stories
I highly recommend checking this book out, I thought it was just beautiful and very well done. If you want a good adventure/coming of age type of story then check this one out! I also recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of “The Raven Boys”.
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Where do I even begin to explain how great this book was? It’s one of those books that I insist you drop what you’re doing right now and go read it! Usually I am not one for historical fiction or more romance heavy plots but oh man was I glad I picked this one up!
Trigger Warnings: Parental abuse both physical, verbal, and emotional, racism, and homophobia (I understand that the last two coincide with the time period but it could have been challenged a bit more in the story)
“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” overall is just such a fun, light-hearted, and hilarious story that is all very reminiscent of “My Lady Jane” so if you enjoyed that book I definitely recommend checking this one out as well! It’s very fast paced, full of plenty adventures and shenanigans in which Monty gets everyone tangled up in one problem after the other. They even have run ins with highwaymen and pirates both! So yes this book is very much entertaining and never has a dull moment!
I also really enjoyed Monty’s narrative and inner monologues because of how sassy and sarcastic he was. I found that this is a majority of why I thought this story was so hilarious!
The overall setting is on the characters’ Grand Tour of the Continent so we get to have places such as Paris, Spain, and Venice as our backdrop to all of the trouble Monty seems to get himself and his friends into. We don’t see too terribly much of the cities or countries but there are a few landmarks mentioned and I just found it all to be very exciting. Venice was definitely my favorite place they visited…just saying.
Mackenzi Lee’s writing is also simply amazing, it had me hooked right from the beginning and had me turning pages all the way up until the end! I loved how she made it additive, hilarious, and touching all at once. There was also never a dull moment and we were never bogged down with pointless or boring details, we got the journey without all of the fussing!
I also really loved the ending even if it was a bit unrealistic.
There was also diversity! We got to have a bisexual narrator along with a M/M romance and Percy was also of a diverse ethnicity (I’m pretty sure he was English/African but I’m not 100% positive).
While I’d love to rate this 5 stars it just didn’t feel quite like a 5 star read for me so 4.5 it is!
The characters were definitely my favorite part of this book, easily! All three of the main characters (Monty, Percy, and Felicity) were straight up amazing and adorable, they were all just so likable! I also felt that they were very realistic, had their flaws, and learned to deal with them or overcome them. So I guess you could say they developed very well over the course of the story.
Henry “Monty” Montague is our narrator and as I said earlier he is FULL of sass and sarcasm which ultimately gets him into quite a bit of trouble, well that and the fact that he loves to drink, gamble, smoke, and fool around with both men and women all the time. People that know him often refer to him as a scoundrel and it’s quite fitting. I find that most often his personality was hilarious in this way but he could be quite an ass sometimes, but his friends would call him out on it immediately and he would actually listen and learn from it. That’s right a character who actually learns from his mistakes and friends that aren’t afraid to call him out!
I also really loved Percy and Felicity since both were adorable but Felicity is a bookish badass! I’m actually really in love with Felicity’s character because she didn’t take shit from anyone and with the way the story ended with her I’m super pumped to read her spin off “The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats and Piracy”.
I’m usually not the biggest fan of YA romances since they’re usually so filled with tropes but this was perfect! I shipped Monty + Percy so freaking much! Honestly they were both the most adorable and you could have cut the tension with a knife, seriously. I also found it very cute that they both were head over heels for each other but were both so completely clueless they thought their love was unrequited! I also really liked how their romance had a bit of a “forbidden love” feel to it since that’s one trope I can’t get enough of!
What I Loved:
- Fun, light-hearted, and hilarious story
- Great, adorable, and likable characters
- Tons of adventure and shenanigans!
- The amazing and fun writing
- The settings (France, Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.)
- The completely adorable and ship worthy romance
What I Didn’t Love:
- Honestly nothing I loved everything! (it just didn’t feel like a complete 5 star for me personally though)
I highly, highly recommend checking out “The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue” because there’s definitely something for everyone in here! It’s overall just such a fun and entertaining book and I want everyone to read and enjoy it as well!
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
This book pretty much met every expectation I had for it:
- A brutal, fierce, warrior heroine
- A complex, thrilling plot
- Tons of detail and overall development
- Action, betrayal, and revenge galore!
So I guess you could say I was definitely not disappointed and very much impressed with this book and I cannot wait for the sequel!
“And I Darken” basically has everything I love in a fantasy book but this is actually historical fiction which may surprise some people, it’s a “retelling” of history in which Lada (the main character) is Vlad the Impaler. It was very, very interesting to read this book and then look up the corresponding history and make comparisons between the two this also may just be me since I’m a big history geek. Just a fun little tidbit there….
This book covers quite a large time span as we witness Lada and Radu’s birth, childhood, and growth into young adults. That being said I thought the pacing was pretty spot on, it wasn’t necessarily very fast paced the entire time and I never found myself truly bored while reading although I will say it lost a bit of steam in the middle.
As I said above this story has so much detail and complexity it’s practically mind blowing, there’s so many things going on and yet it wasn’t confusing to follow at all. A lot of the story revolves around war and politics…but mostly politics and I loved it. The best way for me to describe the plot is to compare it to a spider’s web, there are so many different threads going different ways and interconnecting everything. There are so many twists and turns and you just don’t know what will happen next a lot of it is completely unpredictable.
The setting was also very interesting we almost never see any YA Fiction books set in Eastern Europe especially as far back as the 1400’s. I don’t claim to be an expert on 1400’s Eastern European history but I thought Kiersten White did an excellent job making the setting feel as authentic as possible. Another thing that really adds to this is the addition of the religions, albeit subtle, of Christianity and Islam and how the characters felt about each. And none of the historical or religious facts every felt preachy or like we were being info-dumped on.
The characters in “And I Darken” are probably the best part of the entire book. They are brutal, complex, morally ambiguous, and despicable…… I adored them all. I was 100% invested in Lada and Radu’s characters I cared so deeply about both of them and a lot of what kept me reading was wanting to know what would happen to them.
Lada is one of my all time favorite characters now she is mentioned in the description of the book as brutal and brutal she most definitely is as well as fierce and just an all around badass. She is the total opposite of your typical YA heroine, she is no special snowflake that’s for sure. Lada is resilient and relentless in her desires she will not stop fighting until she has what she wants.
Radu, Lada’s younger brother, is the polar opposite of his sister. Where she is brutal, physically strong, and violent he is vulnerable, book-smart, and kind. I think I enjoyed seeing Radu come out of his shell the most, he’s quiet and pays attention to details others would overlook and is very key in some of the politics of the book because of the secrets and information he learns.
Big plus with this book? One of the strongest sibling relationships I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. I loved Lada and Radu because they got stuck in the same siutaion together and trust only one another, the bond is so strong between these too. They do some messed up stuff in order to protect each other at any cost.
Of course then we have one other very important chief character (although he does not narrate) and a slew of very complex and interesting secondary characters. I’ve said this many times before but I’ll say it again: if you want to impress me with your book you better have some well developed secondary characters. “And I Darken” certainly delivered on this front too.
This was an aspect of the book where I’m unsure what to really say about it because it was about as complex as everything else! There is a bit of a love triangle although it definitely is NOT your typical love triangle there are a lot of different factors that get mixed in with it so it definitely is not the kind we all dislike so strongly in our YA books. I would explain more but I don’t want to spoil the surprise!!!!
Just know that while I shipped the romance(s) so hard, they were also very frustrating to read about! I mean this in the best possible way because I sat the entire time like this:
Basically I approve of the romance in this book and that almost never happens.
I absolutely loved this book and the only reason I docked 0.5 stars is because I felt it didn’t quite live up to the other books I did give 5 stars to.
What I Liked:
- The setting (as I said it’s a rare one)
- Genderswapped Vlad the Impaler
- The complexity of the plot
- Well developed characters
- Interesting (ship-worthy) romances
What I Didn’t Like:
- The pacing slowed the tiniest bit in the middle
I highly, highly recommend taking a look at this book! If you love fantasy I think you’ll really enjoy “And I Darken” because while it isn’t fantasy itself it has all of the war and politics games you find and enjoy in fantasy books.
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, 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 is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher 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 doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Well this is me officially jumping onto the Raven Cycle bandwagon, I cannot even begin to explain how surprised I was by my love for this book.
This book and the entire series is CRAZY hyped and I was very nervous to read it, who wouldn’t be? I didn’t want to end up hating it and having a mob of fangirls attack me. Good news is I am now one of those fangirls and the hype was most definitely correct.
I usually don’t go for any kind of paranormal romance or urban fantasy books since they’re usually full of YA tropes in my opinion and I originally thought “The Raven Boys” would be the same. I mean the description doesn’t do it justice at all, all it did was make me think the book was ALL about Blue falling in love with Gansey and not being able to kiss him. I’ve never been so glad to be proven wrong and I’m extremely happy that I took a chance on this series.
First off let me address the things that I was expecting this book to be all about:
- Poor girl meets rich boy and falls in love (kind of a forbidden love trope)
- Insta-love ( I mean the description straight up says he’s her true love before they meet)
- A very plot-centered romance overall
Yes, the description made me think this book was all about true love, kissing, and romance.
It most certainly is the opposite.
This book is in fact more about psychics, spirits, ley lines, magical trees, and the search for an ancient Welsh king who waits to be woken. Now doesn’t all of that sound so much more appealing than the kissing? I know I found it to be, I couldn’t resist turning pages to find out what would happen with all of these things next! Stiefvater intricately weaves the paranormal with the fantastical, sure there are supernatural things happening but yet you still get the very distinct impression of magic. How could you not love a blending of the paranormal and the magical?
The atmosphere that was created, it was eerie and also suspenseful, I loved everything from Blue’s family demonstrating their psychic abilities to Gansey and boy’s quest for Glendower (you know…that ancient Welsh king I mentioned earlier). There are definitely a lot of things happening within the plot of this book, lots of different plot lines to be followed. It may come off confusing right away to some people but the mystery and anticipation is half the fun, trust me! There is also a bit of POV jumping, which I know can confuse some readers or at least annoy, so you’ve been warned about that now.
As far as all of the romance goes though there still is some but it really does take a backseat in the story which I appreciated very much. However, I don’t think any of you romance fans will be too disappointed with it. It’s a very slow-burn romance and it doesn’t completely take over the plot and the romance isn’t exactly between the characters you would expect…..
The pacing did get a little slow at times and it would really go up and down a lot, however, I didn’t mind since my thirst for answers concerning our many plot lines far out-weighed any slow pacing.
Overall I think my favorite part about this story and its plot is how original it feels, which is something I wasn’t expecting at all. I was actually expecting a book full of the same old tropes but I have definitely never read or heard of anything like this before.
Honestly I think the characters are the best part of this whole book, the story is kind of character driven overall. There wasn’t a single character I disliked which is quite the feat on its own. Everyone is complex, developed, and interesting. Emphasis on the interesting. They’re also all very likable in general but most of all they’re realistic.
Blue Sargent is one of our MCs don’t let the description fool you into thinking this is a 1st Person POV told only by Blue because it isn’t. Blue and The Raven Boys themselves are on equal footing as far as the POVs go. I digress, I actually really liked Blue’s character she’s sensible (as she so often calls herself) and quirky and she doesn’t really take shit from anybody. Qualities I love in a heroine. She’s also a kind of the opposite of a special snowflake seeing as how she’s the only member of her family that doesn’t have psychic abilities which I like because it makes her just a bit more relatable as a character. However, Blue does make things “louder” for other psychics but I still don’t view this as special snowflake status.
Then we have our Raven Boys and they really are the stars of the show in my opinion and Blue pales in comparison, I could sit and sing their praises all damn day. Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah are just complete and utter perfection as far as characters go; they’re flawed, complex, and actually quite….swoon-worthy. I also really love how strong their friendship is and how realistically it’s portrayed. It’s also a nice change of pace to have interesting male main characters in a YA book.
Gansey is very determined in his quest for Glendower and he’s clever and a loyal friend. He’s also not my favorite character I just found something a little lacking with him, don’t get me wrong he’s still a great character and I like him but he just isn’t my favorite. Something just didn’t quite spark my interest enough with Gansey’s character.
Adam makes me heart bleed, I came close to tears every time we switched to his POV. He’s got the whole “rags to riches” thing going on but it doesn’t come without its costs and he’s had to work very hard to get where he’s at. Honestly I just wanted to give him a hug the whole time and he deserves one!
Ronan is by far my favorite character he’s the “bad boy” and I feel cliched for having him be my favorite but he’s so awesome I don’t even care. There’s actually a lot going on with Ronan and he has his fair share of secrets that keeps his character intriguing. Plus everyone loves a sarcastic little shit, right?
Noah is probably one of the single most adorable characters I’ve ever come across in a book, he puts fluffy kittens to shame. He’s quiet and very much in the background but that doesn’t make him any less important. I think the most significant thing I can even say about Noah is that he’s adorable, seriously that’s probably all you need to know.
There are also many secondary characters that are equally complex and play equally important parts in the plot. Mostly Blue’s family. They’re just as quirky and eccentric as Blue and they’re just overall a fun set of characters. Blue’s mom is definitely one of my favorite literary mothers of all time now.
“The Raven Boys” is a great, original tale that blends the paranormal with the mystical and has amazing characters that are easy to connect with.
I’m giving this a rating of 4.5 because I don’t quite feel it’s a full 5 star book but I’m also giving it that extra 0.5 star just because I can’t stop thinking about this book!
Overall I can say that the hype was worth it and I’m so glad to have finally read it.
I’m going to just add to about 100,000 other voices telling you to READ THIS BOOK, ok? I think even if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea you should still take a chance on it like I did, you may end up loving it!
(As of right now, if you own a Kindle, you can get a copy of this book for $1.99!!)
Book Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
Usually I don’t read graphic novels, the only other graphic novel I ever read was “Watchmen” which is a classic. So needless to say I don’t have a lot of experience with them, so when Ariana at The Quirky Book Nerd recommended it to me I wasn’t sure. Pretty much everyone who read it loved it and gave it raving reviews, I was intimidated. There’s no way this graphic novel could live up to that much hype, right? Wrong. “Nimona” lives up to all of the hype. For me “Nimona” is going to be a gateway book into the graphic novel world, I can just tell.
The storyline was very engaging, there’s never a dull moment in this book! I couldn’t stop turning pages until I got to the end of the book and even then I was wishing there was more. It’s pretty fast paced, I finished it in no time.
We don’t just get a straight forward plot either, nope we get a series of flashbacks as well. A glimpse of everyone’s past, kind of like a super hero origin story. It made the characters feel a lot more real and interesting. While the plot wasn’t exactly predictable there weren’t too many shocking instances either. I’m used to Gillian Flynn plot twists so it takes quite a lot to really surprise me. But that doesn’t mean you’ll see some of the twists in “Nimona” coming.
I also loved how Noelle Stevenson did the humor in “Nimona”, I swear I was laughing during more than half the book! Nimona herself was absolutely hilarious and that’s really one of the main reasons I found the book to be so entertaining.
Speaking of Nimona, talk about a GREAT protagonist. She’s quirky, fierce, and lovable all at the same time. She does what she wants when she wants, she’s completely unpredictable and I loved it. Nimona is also very well-developed, we get to really know her personality as well as her backstory throughout the book.
Then there’s Blackheart and Goldenloin, also excellent characters. Although Goldenloin’s character, to me, really wasn’t all that important or exciting. He was kind of just there to move certain plot points along, I didn’t care for him. Sorry! I did love Blackheart though, if there was any competition for favorite character it was him (with Nimona as the winner of course). He’s supposed to be the big, bad super villain when really he’s one of the only ones with a conscience.
I also really enjoyed the relationships between Nimona and Blackheart as well as Blackheart and Goldenloin. So much friendship, it warmed my heart!
Not to mention I loved the artwork, the illustrations were so vibrant and fun! I don’t really have a ton of experience with comics illustrations but I loved Stevenson’s work!
I wish I could do “Nimona” more justices by writing a better and longer review but alas I cannot gush anymore.
Dang right I do! I also think this is a great “starter” graphic novel, a graphic novel for people who haven’t really read a whole lot of them. It’s a truly wonderful book!
Book Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Title: The Monstrumologist
Author: Rick Yancey
Series: The Monstrumologist #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: September 22nd, 2009
Description From Goodreads
These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.
So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.
A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does man become the very thing he hunts?
I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to find out about this series! I love horror and I don’t think there are enough great YA horror books out there, “The Monstrumologist” is one of the good ones.
I mean the study of monsters? What about that doesn’t sound awesome? Although there is so much more to the story than just the monsters….
Let’s Talk About The Plot:
I’m going to go ahead and warn you right away, this book is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish of stomach. While not an overly terrifying story, “The Monstrumologist” is most definitely a gory and bloody one.
I don’t know about you, but I love gore. Something about it makes books more enjoyable for me, I know I’m weird. This is one of the goriest book I’ve ever read though I mean it gets down right nasty. There were parts of the book where I was legitimately gagging it was so gross, but I loved it. I have one scene in mind (if you read this book you’ll know which one).
Plus the monsters themselves are so well done, not only are they absolutely vicious but they’re very intelligent as well. Nothing is scarier than a monster with brains let me tell you. Which reminds me they aren’t the only monsters in this book, we also have them in human form and to be honest I don’t know which were scarier. The acts committed by some of the people in this book were more horrendous than anything the monsters could have done.
I know what you might be thinking: monsters aren’t that scary. Trust me when I say these ones are. Yancey writes them in a way that is truly terrifying. He doesn’t just rely on the physical appearance of the monsters to be scary but their nature as well, which of course is eating people. Now to me, being hunted and getting eaten is scary.
While I found the entire story to be extremely interesting and hard to put down, I can definitely see some people getting bored with it. The writing gets a little tedious and slow at times but it’s worth it to keep reading, trust me!
There’s also TONS of suspense, which of course is required in any good horror book. Not that it’s a scary book in a jumpy sort of way, but more of a quiet horror. Still quite the terrifying book and I got chills more than a couple of times.
Also the sheer CONTENT in “The Monstrumologist” is amazing. Even though this isn’t a fantasy book I would say that it’s on par with fantasy-like world building. If monstrumology were a real science, Rick Yancey would have done his research excellently. Everything he wrote describing the practice of it and the monsters themselves is very believable. Which is part of why I thought the whole book was so fascinating.
Now The Characters:
Excuse me a minute as a completely fangirl over our dark, broody, mad scientist Pellinore Warthrop.
Yes, I think it’s hard to imagine anyone reading this book and NOT loving Pellinore. Although he is kind of an ass…..but we forgive him because he’s so……um I’m not really sure but he’s definitely unique. Not your typical swoon-worthy character but there’s just something about him. He’s insanely smart and very dedicated to is work, he also doesn’t shy away from anything. Being unafraid, of course is mandatory if you’re going to study monsters. There was one thing that bothered me about Pellinore though: the way he treated Will Henry at times. That poor child needs LOVE not orders!
Will Henry, the main character, is adorable. He’s a 12 year old kid and I have a hard time not thinking he’s adorable, he does everything Dr. Warthrop asks of him and all Will wants in return is acceptance and maybe a little love. My heart ached for him, I wanted Warthrop to LOVE him as his own child! I wanted it SO BAD.
Will Henry is also very flawed, what 12 year old orphaned kid under the care of a monstrumologist wouldn’t be? Will gives into weakness and he’s not without his fears making him a very believable and realistic protagonist.
The only other real character of note would be Jack Kearns, remember when I said there are human monsters contained within this book? That’s all I’ll say about Mr. Kearns.
There was a lot of emphasis on Will and Pellinore’s relationship, Yancey goes pretty in depth about why Pellinore treats Will the way he does. Which stems from how Pellinore’s father treated him, it really helped develop both characters in the story.
Which is another thing I’d like to point out, character development. The characters were very well developed and complex, we get to know them very well in this book. Rick Yancey did an excellent job making his characters feel REAL.
There was nothing not to love about “The Monstrumologist”, it had everything I like in a good horror book. It was an excellently written and I’ll be more than glad to continue the series.
Yes, yes, yes. If you’re a fan of horror and want a gory read then definitely look no further than this book! Even if you’re not a big horror fan this book is still worth a look, although if you’re squeamish maybe skip it altogether.