December 2015 Wrap-Up

December was a great reading month. I read a total of nine books a few of which were mentioned in my favorite books of 2015 post.

The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire, #1)Short Synopsis: Five young dragons prophesied to end a war must work together to escape from those who raised them, and find there way in the world.

Thoughts: This is my favorite middle grade fantasy novel of 2015. It used several common tropes of the genre, but I really enjoyed that the dragons were portrayed as dragons as opposed to humans who looked like dragons.

This is something hard to write properly while still making the readers sympathetic to the characters as they are so different from each other.

Full length review to come.

Rating: 4.5 blue jays

Hunted (Spirit Animals, #2)Short Synopsis: The second book in a series in which four children bond with ancient creatures of legend and must save the world from destruction.

Thoughts: This book dragged a little for me though I still enjoyed it. I still plan to read the next one. It was interesting to see the slight stylistic changes caused by this book having a different writer than the first.

Rating: 3 blue jays

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Short Synopsis: A crew of six thieves are hired to pull off the heist that could save the world.

Thoughts: It was a very close call, but in the end I decided to name this book as my favorite young adult fantasy novel of 2015. For my full thoughts, read my review.

Rating: 4.5 blue jays

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Short Synopsis: The final book in a series of interconnected fairy tale retellings taking place in the future.

Thoughts: I definitely liked this book, but I feel very conflicted as to how much I liked it. Full length series review of the Lunar Chronicles to come.

Rating: 4 blue jays

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Short Synopsis: After their planet is caught in the middle of a war between intergalactic corporations Kady and Ezra find themselves refugees trying to flee to an inhabited part of the galaxy before the corporation that invaded their planet catches them.

Thoughts: I had some trouble getting into this book at first due to its unique formatting. I felt a little detached from the characters. However, as the book progressed I adjusted and the pacing picked up. I ended up reading this book twice this month.

The first time in physical form and the second time as an audiobook. I rarely reread books so soon after finishing. I decided to name this book my favorite young adult science fiction book of 2015.

Full review to come.

Rating:

4.5 blue jays

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)Short Synopsis: Young magician finds his way in the world.

Thoughts: I know so many people who love this book, and I really wanted too as well. Sadly, I think the hype made me anticipate too much. I still liked this book, but what kept me from loving it was a combination of what I felt to be the lack of a satisfying climax and the ease at which everything seemed to come to Kvothe.

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

26521836Short Synopsis: Second book in the Diviners series.

Thoughts: I listened to this one on audiobook, and the narrator did a good job, but be warned, I had the first few lines of the music box song stuck in my head for around three days.

Enjoyed this sequel and seeing all of the new and old characters again. The historical references were well worked into the plot. I like how different this book is from the other fantasy novels I’ve been reading.

Rating: 4 blue jays

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustShort Synopsis: Every time Harry August dies his life starts over again exactly how it began. One time as Harry is dyeing someone shows up at his bedside to inform him that the end of the world is coming and he needs to stop it.

Thoughts: I had a slight issue with this book’s structure and the pacing, but other than that I really enjoyed it. It was so thought provoking, and the world building was extremely well done.

If I write a full review I may end up giving it a higher rating than I do now because I can’t seem to stop thinking about this book, and that makes me want to rate it higher than I did initially.

Rating: 4 blue jays

UprootedShort Synopsis: One girl is chosen to live with a “dragon” in his castle for 10 years.

Thoughts: Really enjoyed this twist on the typical fairy tale, but I had some trouble following what was happening at times.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

The Raven Boys Book Review

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle Book 1)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: September 18, 2012 (US)

Format: ebook

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fantasy

Synopsis: For anyone else Saint Mark’s Eve would pass by just like any other night, but not if you’re related to a family of seers. Every year Blue would spend April 24 out in a graveyard with her family surrounded by the soon to be dead, but Blue never saw anything. Blue’s no seer and when a non-seer sees a spirit on Saint Mark’s Eve it can mean only two things: he could be her true love, or she could be the one who kills him.

His name is Gansey and he’s a Raven Boy: AKA a rich Aglionby snob, but is it possible that there’s more to Gansey and his friends than meets the eye?  Blue learns that the Raven Boys (Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah)  are on a mysterious quest involving dangerous magic that could quite possibly get them all killed. Blue has always been told that she would kill her true love with a kiss, but she’d never believed it might become an issue . . . until now.

Book Trailer: *Note: I did not make this trailer. Credits are played at the end.*

Review: Unlike Ms. Stiefvater’s writing style in The Wolves of Mercy Falls and The Scorpio RacesThe Raven Boys is told in a third person omniscient point of view. The author did a great job switching between characters and it seemed to add to the plot and develop the many major characters in a way that would not otherwise be possible. However, not all of the characters motives are revealed at the beginning, leaving the reader to wonder what motivates them resulting in a mysterious undertone. I will admit that the pacing at the beginning was a bit slow and that I struggled to remain interested, but the book picked up in the last several chapters. As usual, Ms. Stiefvater’s writing was very descriptive and I could see why some people might find that distracting. I for one found it to be slightly overdone at times but overall enjoyable.

This book felt like a much needed introduction to the strange world of Henrietta, Virginia and the characters who lived there. There was Blue, the daughter of seers who is not a seer herself, Gansey, on a quest to find the mysterious King Glendower and the ley lines for reasons not relieved until late in the book, and his three friends Adam (the scholarship student) , Noah (the reserved one), and Ronan (who hasn’t been the same since his father’s passing).

It has come to my attention that in Ms. Stiefvater’s later books she seems to have developed a gradual trend towards more unusual names. Names like “Sam” and “Grace” in Shiver did seem too common but I think that the author might be trying a little to hard for originality as the names like “Gansey” and “Blue” can take the focus away from the storyline. I also enjoyed that like most of Ms. Stiefvater’s work The Raven Boys remains untainted by the traditional YA love triangle cliche (although I wouldn’t be surprised if a love triangle develops later on in the series). Romance is there, but it remains on the periphery as opposed to the focus.

Perhaps the most confusing part of this book was the ending. It came abruptly and left the story with an incomplete feel. Makes me wonder if Ms. Stiefvater was lagging behind on her deadline for this book . . . or maybe there was simply no good way to wrap the story up. Regardless, I expect great things from the sequel The Dream Thieves.

Quotes: “My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

“Adam had once told Gansey, “Rags to riches isn’t a story anyone wants to hear until after it’s done.”

Rating/Recommendations: I recommend this book for fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s previous books or anyone who reads YA and wants to read something mildly creepy and unusual. I give this book 4/5 for originality, but some minor flaws and pacing issues that were easy to overlook.

4 blue jays