Sunday, January 6, 2013

seriously, another Complaint about Hype?

Geez, Audrey, what are you doing? Are you out of ideas? Why are you complaining?....AGAIN?

It's okay. *pats head* 

But really, the Just One Day hype is killing me. Stop :( It's Insurgent all over again, but a tamer version, thank god (that promo was painful). 

I'll be first to say that I absolutely adore Gayle Forman and her novels, but PenguinTeen, you're getting too good at your job. I know she has a book. I know. Okay? I know. Please stop telling me. No, I don't have time to do your book club thing. I'm sorry. Now stop reminding me. Please.


I get tired of things quickly, and it's usually the worst when I'm tired of something before I even have access to it. I was really really really excited when I first heard of Gayle's new novel, but the excitement has been crushed under the wave of promo. 

But hey, there's also instances where overexposure desensitizes me to books. For example, The Fault in Our Stars is adored way too fervently in the internet world. It's a great book. I loved it. IN JANUARY. 

Now, a year later, I'm completely desensitized to the overused quotations; they do absolutely nothing for me anymore. Do I think it deserves the praise it's gotten? Yes. But then again, maybe we should try and read some other books and praise them instead. I understand the fascination with John Green, but as a booklover speaking to his legions of fans: there are wondrous, beautiful, undiscovered books out there that will blow your mind if you stop obsessing about TFIOS. Go, my dears. Go discover them. 

Now that "present" and "past" has been covered, let's discuss the future. I'm focusing at you, Penguin (is it like, PenguinHouse yet?), so I'm going to mention Sarah Dessen's The Moon and More that's releasing in June. Please don't go overboard, I implore you. 

tl;dr: hype sucks and I enjoy complaining. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

BR: The Raven Boys

by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle; book I

I usually write an informal review on Goodreads immediately after finishing a book before trying to write a more sophisticated review on my blog, but eh... sometimes I just feel that I should post whatever I want on my blog. And I'm slightly lazy ;)

Summary (goodreads)

“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.

My Expectations: Quite high, I've been reading fantastic reviews from some of my favourite blogs, and I really adore that cover...
Delivery: pretty good!
Put-down-ability: 4/10

My Thoughts

Okay. Here it goes.

I adored The Scorpio Races much more than I expected to, so The Raven Boys was riding on some high expectations. In addition, many of my favourite bloggers absolutely RAVED about the book... so...

I really liked it. I loved some parts of it, truly, truly loved some other, and yet I thought a few other parts were really just satisfactory.

But let's start with the pros: the boys. Stiefvater has this extraordinary ability to characterize the people in her novel, and that stand out against so brightly and I loved it. I love the uniqueness of each boy; the old yet young Gansey, the wild card Ronan, the scholarship kid trying to make it Adam, and the questionable Noah. I loved the closeness of their friendship, but I also loved the dynamics and the unexpectedness that comes along with it. The writing just described each of the beautifully, and I can't get enough of it.

And that also meant that the boys often overshadowed Blue, our "main-ish" protagonist. Blue's smart, capable, and sensible, yet not as compelling. I liked her and definitely respected her (yay for smart protagonists!), but I didn't love her. I liked what she stood for and the mystery around her 'first kiss' and her connection with Gansey were all interesting, but it wasn't enough for me; I just didn't connect to her character the way I think I was supposed to.

And that brings me to the last, and largest point in this review: the plot. Please don't kill me... but the thing is, I didn't find it interesting... enough. Seriously, that's my problem with it. Maybe it's my non-love for paranormal or something, but I couldn't really get myself to care about this ley line, the Glendower, the magic... I'm not sure if it's as if it wasn't "epic" enough to warrant 4 books or what, but it just didn't capture me. This point is obviously a very big "it's not you, it's me" type of thing, and I wish it wasn't so, but yeah. I didn't find the plot or the mystery compelling, which meant that I lacked the urgency when reading and it was easy for me to get distracted.

HOWEVER, MAGGIE STIEFVATER, YOUR WRITING IS GORGEOUS. I can't say that enough, I loved the weight behind her words, the softness, the heaviness, the intricacy and the different-ness that she embraced and used so wisely. There are phrases to stop your heart and there are sentences that describe the boys so flipping well that my jaw drops. I love her writing in The Raven Boys.

So yes, ultimately, I'll be recommending this book often because I enjoyed it quite a bit and I thought it was a great book with fabulous characters. The writing is superb, and while the mystery didn't really appeal to me, there is enough going for this novel that I'll definitely be checking out the sequel.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: fans of the author, fans of urban fantasy/supernatural
Acknowledgements: 3/5

8.5/10 - because I really adored many aspects but the plot fell short. It's a book that has characters worth your time though, and writing that's a step above the YA average. Do check it out if you have a chance, and read these two reviews to convince yourself it's a must-read :)

source: library
author livejournal / website / twitter

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BR: Quintana of Charyn

by Melina Marchetta
The Lumatere Chronicles; book III

***This review contains super-mild spoilers for Froi of the Exiles***

Here's a link to the Goodreads summary

Melina Marchetta is my favourite YA author.

She makes me break all my rules.

This isn't a review.

Not really.

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.   - John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

That quote kind of describes my feelings for Quintana of Charyn. For any Melina Marchetta book, really.

I would talk about the plot, the vast, sweeping, intricate plot that was weaved through the trilogy and came to a completely satisfying conclusion, but this book is not about the plot. It really isn't, it's about the characters.

These characters I hold so dear to my heart. And a part of me hates the way the author has put them through so much hell and heartbreak, so much pain. But they wouldn't be the same and I wouldn't want it any different.

Lucian. The Tom Mackee that became more and more apparent, who's surrounded by so many strong women, who keeps trying to do the right thing yet keeps screwing up. Who's too proud and too stubborn but loves so fiercely without abandon.

Phaedra of Alonso. You wonderful, brave, capable, compassionate woman. I don't know how I didn't notice you before, but that Lucian sure is an idiot sometimes, isn't he?

Isaboe and Finn. I don't know how to describe it. There's so much I could say about them, about their relationship. I love them both so dearly; I love Isaboe's strength and her ties to her kingdom, her adoration for her husband and child, and I love the flaws of Finnikin and his insecurities. It's hard to comprehend Marchetta's ability to weave so much soul into these two characters. They're perhaps my favourite couple.

Gargarin. Arjuro. Lirah. My heart aches so hard for these three, whose lives have been shattered and dragged through pain and suffering and imprisonment. To have lost so much and been hurt so deeply by circumstances and forces outside their control, it's unfathomable and so heartbreaking. And they are complicated and messy and stubborn and loving. I hope that their side of wonder will forever shine brighter than the side of disaster.

All [Froi] knew was that pain placed the wrong words into their mouths. All of them. Forces outside their control had destroyed the lives and friendships and loves of De Lancey and Lirah and Arjuro and Gargarin long ago, and now even the future would keep them apart.

And Quintana of Charyn. Quintana the Brave. Who says "greedy with hope" with a tone of wonder. When she has sacrificed herself and her body to protect the lastborn girls, a reader grows to understand her savage need for survival. "Now here's a heroine", a reader will think. From her small, crooked teeth to her making a spear. Her immense strength and courage and bravery to live through all the tragedy and horror of her life and of the brutal, brutal men she has known. One of her last scenes with Froi is just phenomenally written.

There it was. Suddenly the strangeness of Quintana of Charyn's face made sense. Because it was a face meant for laughing, but it had never been given a chance.

And finally, Froi. Froi of the Exiles, Froi of Lumatere, Froi of Charyn. The boy from the streets of Sarnak without a history, who did awful things and had awful things done to him. The boy who grew up into a man who belonged to many, who belonged to Lord Augie and Perri and Trevanion and Isaboe. Who was a brother to Finn and Lucian. Who was a son to Gargarin and Lirah. Who had a list of thirty people he would trust with his life. Who is bound to the women in his life, and loves fiercely and leans on the side of wonder. Froi is simply a magnificent character.

Ms Marchetta, I don't know how you do it. Thank you for writing a book filled with brave, strong women. For a book about men who would be nowhere without these women. There was a lot of fist-pumping. Thank you for a book that has characters that are flawed so deeply yet love so strongly. And yes, you may have pulled some of these beloved characters into crevices so dark and painful but thank you for pulling them out. I'm still thinking about them.


(this is my favourite book of 2012)

Happy New Year.