Rereading The Raven Boys, book one.

“And the last thing to hit him, right in the gut, was the emotional impact, a mysterious, raw ache that wouldn’t go away. Gansey felt like he couldn’t survive not knowing if the lines meant something. That was the only part of his hunt for Glendower that he could never seem to explain to people.”

This book has everything I enjoy, is put together well, and I really like the writing style. Can’t ask for more than that! The Raven Boys has an intriguing plot, complex characters, witty banter, and my most favourite – it incorporates magic and wonder into it in a way that makes you feel like anything is possible. I hadn’t read anything like this before. I’ve yet to again.

I am not the only one that struggles to describe what The Raven Boys is about but I will try. It begins with Blue Sargent, a girl brought up around psychics but does not have “the sight” herself. She instead acts as a kind of amplifier, making her families predictions and readings more clear and louder when she is around. Every St Marks Eve (April 24th) she travels to an old abandoned church with her mother and they make a record of all the sprits her mother’s sees and asks them their names. These are the spirits of people that will die within the year. On this particular St Marks Eve, Blue sees the spirit of a boy named Gansey. However, there is only one reason a non seer would see a spirit… If he was her true love, or if she killed him. This is a particular issue for Blue, as the one thing psychics have always predicted about her is that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. PROBLEM.

DON’T ROLL YOUR EYES, this is not going to be that story. The reader is then thrown into Ganseys world, following ley lines in his quest to find a dead Welsh King, and we meet his three friends; Ronan, Adam, and Noah. All of the boys are beautifully written and complex and you get to see them through each others eyes as it is written in the third person. Maggie is a very clever, talented writer. All I will say is FORESHADOWING!

The book soon becomes less about Blue and more about her and her boys and their adventure together as a unit. The reader is shown that each boy has his own issues to deal with, and you can see Adam is going on a personal journey, and that Ronan has his own secrets. What I love about The Raven Boys is whilst it is the first novel in a series of 4, its not just a set up for a series, it has its own story, and its own events which lead to a dramatic ending.

It is one of those series that deserves to be read at least twice. It needs to be. Reading it properly a second time was just as fun but in different ways, and I wanted to get a highlighter out and just hight light EVERYTHING because some of quotes are so delicious. It captures longing, wanting, and yearning. So much angst. But with magic.

Rereading The Raven Cycle update one of many…

“The thing was, Henrietta looked like a place where magic could happen. The valley seemed to whisper secrets. It was easier to believe that they wouldn’t give themselves up to Gansey rather than that they didn’t exist at all. ”
– The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

So I’m halfway through my re read and I just keep remembering why I love this book so much. The way it’s all put together is too much, she is a wonderful writer, it’s my little piece of magic and wonder in this world 😍. I can see why some people say more should have happened in the first book, but I think it’s perfect the way it is. There are so many plot points and stories that all come together in all four books, and it is a character driven story too, so the first book needs to set the scene and really give you an insight to all these different, interesting personalities. When I come across reviews that say The Raven Boys is slow it makes my blood boil (but they are allowed their “wrong” opinion 😂)

Shatter Me, Unravel Me, and Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Shatter Me ⭐⭐ This one is a really quick, easy read once it gets going and if you can cope with the style of writing. I don’t think it will be for everyone, it may be trying a bit too hard? So so so so so much metaphor. Too much metaphor and simile, and not always used especially well.

It is written in the first person from the point of view of Juliette who is locked away in a military compound in a post apocalyptic world because she cannot be touched. People experience pain when they come into contact with her and she could kill them. Its nothing special but engaging enough once it gets going. Then OF COURSE there is a boy who mysteriously can touch her, and they then plan an escape into the wider world. I think this is more a romance novel than a dystopian novel.

Hoping to see more of the world in the next book – humans have apparently ruined the planet to the point food is scarce and the weather never changes. I give this 2 stars because I want to see what happens next. At the moment it’s no Hunger Games or Divergent.

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Unravel Me ⭐⭐⭐ Much better. Which is kind of a shame because if it wasn’t for the fact that I already own all 3 books, I wouldn’t have really wanted to read Unravel Me as Shatter Me was so poor. But I was curious enough to see where it went.

Unravel Me is better as we get context about Juliette’s abilities and why she is like she is, we also see how she thinks more with more clarity. We also get more context with regards to the setting of the story.

Not perfect though, I could still pick plenty of holes, one being Adam becomes a shitty character to read about. However it is more of a novel and not just a collection of absurdly used metaphors like the first book 😂

Ignite Me ⭐⭐⭐ There is so much I could pick apart here, but I won’t. The book is about the group gearing up and preparing for a fight against the big bad, but this spreads out over a month. In that whole time there is no real threat looming. Its unrealistic that the enemy will just wait without any action considering the offensive tactics they took in they last book.

I’m also not a great fan of love triangles which is what this series has been gearing up to be, but there was no real triangle as one of the love interests very quickly becomes so dislikeable that there is no real way anyone would root for him.

What I did like about Ignite Me is that Juliette develops and becomes her own person, and becomes pretty bad ass. Yes, I also like Warner too – we all love a bad boy right? I’ve seen there is another book, and maybe a new one in 2019, but as the author claimed to have finished this series after Ignite Me years ago, I don’t know whether I am going to rush to pick it up.

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My Book of the Year – I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

It’s the big one. I had to name this my book of 2018 because it ticked all the boxes for things I like in books ;

  • Plot twists
  • Well crafted characters that are not having a very good time 😉
  • A touch of magic or mystery
  • Romance
  • Many quotable quotes 🙂
  • A message
  • Leaves you feeling something
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I ended up buying I’ll Give You The Sun to read on holiday after googling “Books like The Raven Cycle” (The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is my favourite series). It’s name kept appearing so I bought it. It is about a set of twins, Noah and Jude, who were once so close but then drift apart. It goes back and forth between the twins at 13 and the twins at 16 and the plot resolves around secrets they keep from each other. Art is also a big theme, the story touches on Noah and Judes creative journey, as well as how this links in with their turbulent relationship with their mother. I would say it is similar to The Raven Cycle in the way it has a nice writing style similar to Stiefvater’s. It also has the same gorgeous use of metaphor, and includes the idea of magic and superstitions. It also has themes of family, friendship, and love.

I would struggle to recommend a particular audience or place this book in a specific genre which is what makes it so special. I think EVERYONE should read it. That’s how I know I’ve read a very special book – when I want everyone to read it. It could be labelled as teens and YA as at one point the book is written from the point of view of young teenagers, but on the other hand, it uses swear words and covers themes younger readers wouldn’t be comfortable with. Part of me thinks parents should read it, as it handles difficult family topics, such as grief and bereavement in a touching way. The story is a beautiful mix of bittersweet moments, humour, and pain.

I think what makes I’ll Give You The Sun stand out – without giving anything away, is that it’s a very special story told in an unusual way. So as a reader I got to be involved the storyline whilst also enjoying they way it was put together and delivered.

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Award for “why didn’t I read this earlier? ” goes to The Six of Crows / Crooked Kingdom duology by Leigh Bardugo.

Unable to make my own decisions on a book to take on holiday in summer, I went for a suggestion based on what I kept seeing on Instagram. I always say I’m not super into fantasy books, and the fact this was a spin off from another series in the same universe (The Grishaverse) was making me hesitant to try it. However, I was assured you did not need to read her previous work of The Grisha Trilogy before reading Six of Crows. So I dived in. Also, look at that cover;

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I honestly don’t know why I didn’t read this earlier because it’s bloody brilliant. It’s not what I expected at all and was a laugh from start to finish. It’s funny and action packed, and I really liked that it didn’t take itself too seriously. There was so much going on; schemes, heists, double crossing, and a heavy amount of banter. The plot was all very well put together too. I was glad I was on holiday because I didn’t want to put it down and kept reading it for hours.

The characters are really well done and not the usual ones you’d expect from a book about magic, a power struggle, and a grand heist. They all got their moment to shine, and I enjoyed all of the witty dialogue (and innuendos). It was a really refreshing read and not typical of the genre.

Here is a picture from that amazing holiday – I’m missing the weather!

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Award for “Squad Goals”

There could be no other shout out this year. It has to be All For The Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic. I really believe that certain bands/albums/books find you at the right time you need them, and this is one of them.

This series is full of surprises for me, I didnt expect to enjoy it so much and I think that’s why I’m so fond of it. I’ve read it twice already. It is not be something I would normally read as it is about sports and a team – but it’s a fictional sport, so I didn’t need to really be into sports or have prior knowledge of anything. The first book was a bit “clunky” and was clearly a mash up of different drafts, it also read like fan fiction. Despite this, it became easy to read, easy to keep going from one page to the next. By the second two books it was much more polished.

The thing about this group (The Palmetto State Foxes) is that there are a whole team of personalities to follow and care about, and each and every one of them is different and each has a purpose. It’s a good thing to make stand out characters but it’s an achievement to do so many so well. The Foxes are definitely not perfect. They are flawed, dramatic, some are violent, some are medicated, and all have encountered some trouble to get where they are (“If we got what we deserved we wouldn’t be Foxes” )

The plot can get extremely far fetched at points but the whole trilogy was a ride, it’s a self published work of fiction at the end of the day and you just have to roll with it. I have discovered that this series has a bigger following than I first thought and I have met some really lovely people on Instagram where we have bonded over our love for this book – and all the memes. I love this fandom. The fact people are still talking about and that I see it popping up on people’s to read lists make me smile. The people that love these books REALLY love it. There can be no inbetween.

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Books with LGBTQ± in read this year

This was not my intention until about ¾ of the way through the year, now I’m definitely after more books with representation.

So a list;

All For The Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic (Affectionately referred to as All for the gay)

Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices) by Cassandra Clare (Massive LGBT representation)

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Six of Crows /Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (tiptoeing in and out of the closet)

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