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Not a review: Lament, Maggie Stiefvater

3112850Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky—and equally dangerous—dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen’s sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren’t so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn’t exactly what she had in mind . . .

Lament is a dark faerie fantasy that features authentic Celtic faerie lore, plus cover art and interior illustrations by acclaimed faerie artist Julia Jeffrey.

I can’t review this one as I only made it a hundred pages or so in before I had to call it quits. I can only conclude that The Raven Boys must have been a rarity, as the other two of Stiefvater’s that I’ve read have been poor. I found Lament, at least as far as I got, to be  utterly ridiculous. Girl meets boy at important music competition, plays a duet on stage with him after just minutes in his company, not having any idea who he is. Girl falls in love with boy, still no idea who he is. I won’t even bore you with the rest, it only gets more and more preposterous. This the perfect example of the kind of YA I find insulting to YA’s. Horrible.

I can’t make that my conclusive judgement though, as I couldn’t see it through to the end. But for me, this is one that’s totally not worth your time or money.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Reviews

 

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Library Haul: ‘Wilt’ research + brainfluff

I take LittleMan to the library once a week. We live in a very small town and our library is, essentially, a bit pants. But I don’t want us to ever lose it, pants or not, so we go religiously. He’s three years old now, and isn’t far off having read just about everything they have in the picture book department. I always check out the SF/F section but, like him, I’m about through it all. They have a ‘teenzone’ rather than a YA section, so I had a sneaky rummage in there this morning, and came out with these;

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I’m reliably informed that teens dig Vampire Diaries, so I’m going to have a looksee what it’s like, although I have a suspicion it’s really going to annoy me. Plus, I can’t read it at work or I’ll never hear the end of it.

vampire-diaries

I’ve just bought myself the first book in the Monster Blood Tattoo series, so I snapped up the second one while I saw it on the shelf, and I grabbed a Stiefvater while I saw it too. I loved The Raven Boys, but was disappointed in Shiver, so I’m curious to see what this one is like, and will do a ‘best of three’.

I lump all of these under the heading of ‘research’ for Project Wilt, but if I’m honest, it’s all quite a welcome brain holiday at the moment. The day job is driving me up the wall, and I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything even remotely challenging, reading-wise, just now.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Books Received, Writing

 

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Review: Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater

6528333When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace’s small town becomes a place of fear and suspicion. But Grace can’t help being fascinated by the pack, and by one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. There’s something about him – something almost human. Then she meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away…

A chilling love story that will have you hooked from the very first page.

This is one of those reviews that could go either way. It’s a tough one for me. What can I say about Shiver? On one hand, I enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down close to the end, and on the other, it drove me up the bloody wall. It’s pretty rare that I genuinely can’t decide whether to go for a One Star or a Three Star rating. My head says One, and my heart says Three.

Let me start with the Badness. The love story here is ridiculously soppy, which I could deal with if it wasn’t for the fact that the explanation behind this intense, all consuming teenage adoration-fest was so very weak. I need to tiptoe around spoiler territory, but I just didn’t buy Grace’s slow burning six year love for Sam, nor the sudden comfortable togetherness they shared after the incident in the woods. Now I was never much of an outgoing teenager myself, but even for the more gregarious teen I think hiding a love interest in your bed, with you, an hour or so after you’ve met them is pushing it a bit. I also found the length of time she managed to hide him for to be equally daft, disinterested parents or not. The sudden, inspired ‘cure’ that Grace comes up with, was one of the silliest things I’ve read to date, coupled with the manner in which they tried to apply it. Add to that the completely out-of-character move by Olivia at the end, and you’ll have a feel for why I spent time in One Star territory.

After reading, and being pleasantly surprised by The Raven Boys, this was not what I was expecting.

So why did I finish it? Essentially because I really, really liked the idea of what makes Werewolves change here. It was original, and interesting, and how often do you find anything original in Werewolf stories? Definite plus points there. Add to this the fact that Stiefvater has one of those effortlessly engaging writing styles, which made it damn near impossible to put this one down even when I was scoffing at it. She’s one of those writers who draws you in by the scruff of your neck, whether you’re happy about it or not. The main thing that kept me going though was all the promise held within these pages. Promise that was never realised. I wanted to know more about the Pack, more about Beck’s background and Sam’s beginnings. There’s so much uncovered territory here, and I think the biggest frustration of all was getting to the end and thinking of all the missed opportunities for genuine awesomeness. This could have, and should have, been amazing. But it was essentially, at best, a guilty pleasure with a couple of good points.

Shiver’s a fun, daft read, that sadly lacks the intelligence and intrigue of The Raven Boys. In some ways it’s almost everything that’s wrong with YA.

Will I read the next two books in the series? If I find them in the library I might indulge, as there is more I want to know about these Wolves. I wouldn’t hunt the books down though, or spend my hard-earned on them.

Mixed feelings, but overall, disappointed. I’m way outside of the target audience though, the 13 year old me may well have been captivated.

 

2A PhoenixFantasy Two Star Read.

 

[Shiver is published by Scholastic and is available in Paperback and Electronic format]

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Review: The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater

13449693““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.”

I’ve got to be honest, I had absolutely no idea YA could this THIS good. The Raven Boys was a revelation! It’s intelligent, compelling, and I’d even go as far as to say Spellbinding. I adored this book. It’s single-handedly given me a new respect for the YA genre.

The Raven Boys reads like a mix of Donna Tartt, James Treadwell and Charles de Lint. And I think I could probably end this review right here as that should tell you everything you need to know. It’s a thing of beauty.

The romance angle, which sounded worryingly prominent from the tagline on the front cover, is in fact blissfully minimal, so much so as to be hardly even there, which is a complete joy for a reader like me who’s not excited by the teen romance angle (for I am Old!). It was so refreshing, this one is all about the magic and the mystery, and wastes no time with hormones. God love it.

It’s a beautifully self-contained novel, even though it’s obviously the beginning of a series. There’s more than enough left over at the end of this one to leave you wanting more, but at the same time enough threads are tied up to make you feel satisfied, and keep the frustration that a ‘Book One’ ending can so often incur safely at bay.

Stiefvater’s characters are beautifully realised and the plot is intricate and expertly revealed. I can’t fault this one, I genuinely can’t.

Beautiful! (Yes, I know, a lot of ‘beautifuls’ in this review but I can’t bloody help it! it just IS)

 

5A PhoenixFantasy Five Star Read

 

[The Raven Boys is published by Scholastic and is available in Paperback and Electronic format]

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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