Top 10 Tuesday: Series I’d Like to Finish or Continue with Someday

This week’s TTT topic is: book series I’ve given up on. I had a think about this for a little bit and since I didn’t feel comfortable including any series where I only read the first book before going, nah, not for me, I was running a bit short on selections. Instead I’m going with Jana’s (That Artsy Reader Girl) provided alternative which is: series I’d still like to finish someday. To give myself some more options, I’m also including series I want to continue with at some point. For me, this means the series hasn’t finished being written yet but I’m a little behind on it.

The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer

Related image

I only started this series last year so it’s definitely not the oldest unfinished one on my shelves. At this point I’ve only got one book to go, Winter, which is relatively sizeable. I’ve been really enjoying it so far, mostly because the characters are strong, different, funny, AND ethnically diverse, which is always great. It’s a really well done fairytale retelling series but there’s still a lot of originality which keeps it feeling fresh, fun and surprising.


The Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini

Image result for the inheritance cycle

It feels like I’ve had only one book left in this series FOREVER. Oh wait, it actually has been forever. I’ve reread books one and two quite a few times over the years, and read book three once, but for some reason I never make it all the way through. I get busy, or distracted, or something. I’m determined to get there though, it will happen! Watch out Eragon & Saphira, I’m coming for you…eventually.


The Mortal Instruments – Cassandra Clare

MI Covers

I gave up on this series after reading City of Fallen Angels years ago because it was so annoyingly bad. The problem is, I now really want to read The Dark Artifices and after reading about 180 pages into Lady Midnight, I found myself fairly lost. Then I realised some of the characters and backstory had been introduced in City of Heavenly Fire. I’m sure you can see where this going. So yes, I’m going to reread the first four books, finish the rest of the series and then finally make my way back to Lady Midnight. Lord save me from death by Clace angst.


The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater

Image result for The Raven cycle

The Raven Cycle is one of those series that I felt pressured to read because of the amount of love the books get online. I found The Raven Boys a bit of an average read. It had it’s moments, but the tone and plot was always slightly odd. However, still I persisted – I mean, people LOVE these books, right? I had to be missing something. This idea pushed me through the next two entries in the series and unfortunately I still don’t fully get the crazy level of devotion people have to them. However, because of all my answered questions, as well as the amount of time I’ve now invested, I feel like I have to finish it all off by reading The Raven King, so that’s what I’ll do.


Mistborn Trilogy – Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn

I read The Final Empire a few years ago back when I was at university and quite enjoyed it. The magic system was really original, the characters were interesting, the book got me with a twist about two thirds in, and I really loved the idea of the hero defeating the villain only to become one. I’ve had the second book for a while but haven’t been in the mood to read it yet. I’d definitely like to in the future though.


The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo

Image result for the grisha trilogy

Originally, after finishing Shadow and Bone I had intended not to read anymore of this series. Mostly because the plot felt a little mediocre and I found the idea of Mal as Alina’s love interest extremely boring. However recently I’ve been thinking that I might finish the series after all. This is in large part due to the fact that I’d like to get a proper introduction to Nikolai (everyone seems to adore him) so that if I end up wanting to read King of Scars, I’ll be able to do so.  I also happen to be a fan of The Darkling as a villain so if I keep going, I’ll get some more development with him too.


Poison Study Series – Maria V. Synder

Image result for poison study series

I read Poison Study a long time ago now, we’re talking way back, when I was in mid high school. At the time it seemed like another series I didn’t think I would continue with. Like the Grisha books though, recently I’ve been seriously considering going back to it. It seems weird but I think that now, having gotten a bit older and read more widely, I’d enjoy the book a lot more than I first did. Guess the only way to find out is a re-read.


Outlander Series – Diana Gabaldon

Outlander

This is the first series on my list that isn’t actually complete yet, although it’s about eight books plus several novellas and spin offs in already. These are really long novels at around a thousand pages each so they do take a fair amount of time to get through, which means you really need to be in the mood. I took a break after reading Drums of Autumn as it wasn’t exactly my favourite in the series and I’ve heard that the next one, The Fiery Cross is the low point in the books before they very successfully pick up again. The motivation isn’t there right now, but it will be further down the line.


A Song of Ice & Fire Series – George RR Martin

Image result for a song of ice and fire covers

This is another series which is still many years off being finished and one in which each installment is extremely chunky, requiring motivation and concentration. When I began these a few years ago I read several very close together and burnt myself out a little about two hundred pages into A Feast for Crows. I’d like to go back to the series some day but not right now. However, considering the pace at which Martin writes, I can probably take as much time as I need.


Red Sparrow Trilogy – Jason Matthews

Red Sparrow Series.jpg

I enjoyed the first book in this series a lot more than I thought I would when I read it a few months back (even with the constant references to Dominika’s clothing). I don’t read a lot of espionage or thrillers so it’s nice to have something different on occasion. After the end of book two, I’d like to continue on with the series and see where it leads.


Which series do you have plans on reaching the end of soonish (or sort of soonish, or maybe even just before you die)? Are there any series that you’ve given up on part way through because they declined in quality?

Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School

So, first up, sorry for the lack of posts last week. Turns out that getting home at 8 PM multiple days in a row is not conducive to publishing blog posts but I promise that this week I will back in full force – tags, memes, reviews and discussions. Let’s get the ball rolling with TTT.

This week’s topic is Back to School and the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish  have given us quite a bit of freedom as to how we interpret this. I’ve decided to go fairly literal and discuss books that involve schools or academies of some kind. It’s a bit of an odd collection of books but eh, my blog, my list. In no particular order…

1. Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

My current, amazing read. This novel features a “school” of sorts except that in this instance it’s focused on shaping its students into proficient assassins. With the teachers not above theft, poisoning, dismemberment, and torture, the trick is surviving the training process. Yikes!

2. Vampire Academy Series – Richelle Mead

I was the biggest fangirl of this series in my mid and later high school years. You’d think it’d be the most trope-y, lame thing ever, but it’s not (well, in my opinion). This series was when I first fell in love with one of my favourite authors – Richelle Mead.  A school that teaches it’s students to use elemental magic and kill bad vampires, yep, sign me up.

3. This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab

To be honest I actually wasn’t expecting a school setting for the first half of this book.  I don’t know what I was expecting, really. Regardless, the two main characters meet at school while one is doing reconnaissance and it all ends up a mess from there (for the characters that is, not the plot because this book was great!).

4. Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult

Quite a socially relevant book for the United States when it came out, a time in which school shootings were regularly in the news. It’s an interesting look at the students, teachers and families linked to a high school in the lead up to and aftermath of a shooting by one of the students. Both emotional and a little scary.

5. Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling

I’ll probably use Harry Potter on almost every list I ever create from here until the end of time but I think you can see why it’s justified here. Hogwarts: the most awesome magic school in literature. Enough said.

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

The events that make up this novel are triggered by the main character, Charlie, starting high school. It’s here that he meets the interesting cast of characters that we follow throughout that year. We get the usual high school story plot points – the big dance, relationship dramas, bullying, house parties – and yet they never seem to feel cliché here.

7. The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater

The focus of these books isn’t the school setting, especially considering the characters always seem to be busy dealing with other things like disappearing forests, mixed up timelines, searching for dead kings, and so on. However, Aglionby Academy does play a role in shaping the characters’ identities – Ronan’s disregard for his studies, Adam’s dedication to them, Gansey’s outward appearance as the almost stereotypical Aglionby student, etc. Plus, it’s the whole reason the boys are referred to as ‘The Raven Boys’.

8. The Austere Academy – Lemony Snickett

Across the thirteen books that make up A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaires find themselves in every possible setting you can imagine – a circus, a reptile house, ski slopes, a submarine, a mill, and of course, a prestigious preparatory academy. As with every book in the series, it’s weird and yet very enjoyable.

9. The Mediator Series – Meg Cabot

Going back to my tween years with this one. I used to love this series. Suze is a catholic school student with the ability to see ghosts. She often has to work with her school principal, Father Dominic, to work out what’s going on with restless spirits in order to get them to move on. The first book involves her trying to rid her school of a very angry former student turned poltergeist.

10. IT – Stephen King

I’m probably stretching things with this one but whatever. In one of the two concurrent story lines, the characters are all kids aged about 12 or 13 and attend the same school which is how they meet one another. It also means they all happen to attract the attention of the same awful, older bully.

Bad Boys, Fast Cars, and a Little Bit of Magic: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

4 stars

socks.jpg

“No one but Ronan knew the terrors that lived in his mind.
Plagues and devils, conquerors and beasts.”

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Usually, when I finish a book I know almost immediately exactly how I felt about it – what worked, what didn’t, whether I loved it, hated it, or whether it was just plain forgettable. The Dream Thieves was not one of those books. The Raven Cycle is a series that people seem to absolutely love. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t see at least one photo or post that relates to it and it’s the first series in a bookstore that I’ve ever seen with three different staff recommendation cards hanging off the shelf. And yet, here I am, halfway through and I have to confess that while I’ve very much enjoyed the first two books, I’m not head over heels in love. Yet.

It’s interesting – because when I think about how I’d summarise the plot of this book if someone asked me to do so, I actually think I’d have very little substantive to say. There’s some discussion about a missing magical forest, some weird and confusing dreams, an ambiguous bad boy character with a thing for white Mitsubishis, and a cocktail party which ends in the usual disagreement between two of our raven boys.

It’s taken me a while to grasp this but unlike most of the books out there, and the ones I usually read, The Raven Cycle is not about the destination. This is a story very much about the journey and the characters on it. By the end of book one, the characters were almost nowhere near actually achieving their overarching goal. While I knew there were three more books to follow and thus a whole lot more plot to go, part of me couldn’t help but feel a little dissatisfied. Even the progress towards the goal itself was extremely minimal except for one major event at the very end of the book. You’d think that this would then pave the way to quicker and greater progress in book two but…nope. Not so much. Once again, I was left to read as the characters meandered around, making very little headway on their quest before BAM – something beneficial right at the end. It’s taken me some time to adjust, but I think I’m finally starting to get the way these stories work. And in order for them to work well, you need to love the characters. Cause if you don’t, let me tell you now, you are going to get bored quickly.

I have a great appreciation for each of the five central characters of The Raven Cycle. But just as people claimed I would, having now read book two, I have an even greater appreciation for Ronan Lynch. In book one, Ronan was probably the least developed character of the bunch. There was a degree of mystery about him but overall I couldn’t help but think of him as the stereotypical rich kid who’s decided to rebel a little in the late teenage years after being spoiled for so long. Let me say that Maggie definitely surprised me with where she took his character in The Dream Thieves. I had no idea what to expect as to the meaning of the title but it had definitely never crossed my mind that it could be so literal. And what a wonderfully done concept it was. Ronan became a much more complex and interesting character this time around, and we began to see some of the smaller and subtler details in his relationships with the rest of the boys, particularly Adam. Adam, himself, started to verge on annoying for me a couple of times during this book – it’s almost like we’re on a never-ending train of stubbornness and determination to prove oneself when it comes to Adam and it’s getting a little old. Comparatively, Gansey and Blue fell a little more into the background but I enjoyed reading about the smaller moments they shared with one another, something I know will continue in book three. Meanwhile, Noah is just, well, Noah.

I honestly have no idea where this series is going but I’m interested to find out. Every time I have a general idea of the rules and boundaries of what’s possible or likely to show up in Stiefvater’s Henrietta, West Virginia, something changes – disappearing magical forests, dream magic, even a giant mythical monster wrestling match. While book two still hasn’t hit the highs I expected for such a beloved series, I can surely say that this was an improvement on book one. For some reason I feel like giving it anything lower than four stars would be both wrong and unfair so four stars it is and here’s hoping book three finally gives me that magical falling in love moment.

4 stars

Psychics, Baby Birds, and Trees that Speak Latin: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

3.5 stars

IMG_2507

These days I have a habit of reading YA novels that all seem to blend into one another. They’re not bad, they’re not great, they just happen to sit in that weird three-star middle ground in which over time individual plot details are kind of forgotten. The Raven Boys is like this, and yet it’s not.

Who, What, Where?

Let’s set the scene a bit… The book focuses on five teenagers – four boys and a girl. Blue, the girl, is a member of a family of psychics, who while possessing no actual psychic abilities of her own does act as an amplifier for them and other mystical energies. She also happens to be worried about a prophecy which states if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. Then we have the boys – Gansey, Rowan, Adam, and Noah – students of the illustrious Aglionby academy who just happen to be trying to track down ley lines in the hopes of locating some really old dead guy’s tomb, waking him, and getting a wish granted.  Blue joins her aunt at an old church on St. Mark’s eve, a night on which psychics can see the ghosts of those set to die during the next 12 months. Blue somehow sees Gansey’s ghost and her aunt tells her it’s because either he’s the love of her love or she’s the reason he dies. Drama ensued. And there you have it.

Characters

The characters of The Raven Boys all have distinctive and well-constructed personalities. Each adds a little something different to the story and while they weren’t completely lovable, they’re definitely all very likeable (even Rowan whose personality is designed to set people on edge). This is important as while the story does deal with the group’s investigations into the mystical, much of it actually rests on the interactions between the characters and the things going on in their respective lives, especially the boys e.g. Adam’s troubles at home and future aspirations, Rowan’s family and schooling issues, etc.

Romance

One of the main pet peeves I have with YA novels is insta-love. So many good books in this category have been let down by laziness in developing romantic relationships. I have no idea if this will become a problem later in the series but it wasn’t in this book. Blue has feelings for Adam and vice versa but it’s the kind of gradual and slightly awkward relationship development you’d expect from a couple of teens who haven’t been in a relationship before. It’s believable and not overly annoying (yet). However, trying to avoid spoilers, it’s very easy to see that this (a) won’t last or (b) will turn into a love triangle very soon based on insights Blue gains during the book about Gansey. If so, I hope that either relationship will develop gradually *fingers crossed* but I have serious concerns about the kissing-prophecy angst that’s teased to come.

Plot

In terms of the book’s plot, I liked the idea of it in theory – ley lines, magical energies, ghosts, rituals, etc. but for most of the book I was a little confused. Specific information did come out over time and yet I’m still sitting here feeling slightly hazy on a lot of details. I have to expect that books two-four in the series will add the extra clarification. The first half of the book can be a little slow for those who need big dramatic storylines but for those invested in the characters, it moves along at a nice, relaxed pace. One thing I do wish had packed a little more punch was the story’s climax which felt a little on the flat side, despite the actions of one character which I’m sure will cause tension later on. The group’s overarching goals weren’t fully realised in this book but steps were taken in the right direction so as to show to a degree where the later books are heading. As to how there’s three books worth of plot after this, I’m unsure but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Writing

On the whole, Maggie’s quality of writing is good. It’s third-person, clear, doesn’t overdo the extraneous details and still manages to paint a good picture of events as well as characters’ thoughts. The chapters aren’t ridiculously long – which is good for those who liked defined places to stop reading – and there aren’t so many characters that you find yourself losing track of them all.  My only minor complaint here is that at some points it can take a little bit of time to work out exactly whose perspective a new chapter is being written from. This aside, she has a lovely style which is easy to spend a lazy afternoon with.Divider

Final Verdict: While The Raven Boys won’t be as forgettable as many of the other 3-star YA reads I’ve tackled in recent months, it still lacks the magic spark needed to bump it up to the greatness of a 4.0, particularly when it comes to a memorable and dramatic conclusion.

3.5 Stars

June TBR

When I began my blog, one of my main motivations was the desire to encourage myself to read more and get back on track with old reading habits. So, in pursuit of that I’ve decided to set myself a reading goal of six books this month! In recent months I’ve only really been making it through about two a month, so this is kind of a big deal for me. Fingers crossed I can pull it off.  I’m not allowed to buy any books this month because the TBR pile is getting out of control (but birthday gifts are of course exempt from the rule). Here are the books I’m hoping to be able to cross off that massive TBR list this month:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J. Maas)

ACOWAR

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

I’ve actually just finished this as of yesterday afternoon so clearly I’m off to a great start on my goal. My goodness, it was thick (I think I need to aim for something under 500 pages for my next book) but honestly once you hit a major war in a book, it’s pretty difficult to put down.

The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater)

The Raven Boys

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 Gansey is different. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more. 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 told by her psychic family that she will kill her true love. 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 heard this is a great book so I’m really excited to give it a go. Hopefully the plot is as good as people have said and I’m left eager to get stuck into the rest of the series. I read a couple of Maggie’s Shiver novels ages ago and the writing was quite lovely. Also, I’ve heard she designed all the stunning covers for this series herself!

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

The Night Circus

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

This has been on my shelf since last year. I keep putting it off for some reason so I definitely think it’s time to get into it this month. Thanks to Beth from Reading Every Night for the reminder in her Standalone Sunday post from the other day.

This Savage Song (V. E. Schwab)

TSS

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I enjoyed Schwab’s novel Vicious and absolutely loved her Darker Shade of Magic books. With the sequel, Our Dark Duet, coming out this month there’s no better time to get stuck into reading This Savage Song.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows)

GLPPS

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

It’s important to have a little variety amongst all the YA and fantasy going on. I’ve heard lovely things about this particular book. I don’t usually like novels told in letters or messages, diary entries, etc. I’m hoping this will be one of the rare exceptions I come across.

Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor)

strange the dreamer.jpg

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep

I didn’t fall in love with Daughter of Smoke and Bone the way a lot of other people did so I’m hoping this will be the book that shows me the magic of Laini Taylor. I just couldn’t resist the gorgeous cover! I’ve heard that a couple of people felt this book was extremely overrated and then there were others who thought it was amazing so hopefully I end up falling in the latter camp.

BONUS – If I manage to somehow exceed my own expectations:

The Bone Season Series

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

I read both The Bone Season and The Mime Order shortly after each was released and loved them. I really, really want to read The Song Rising but unfortunately with the time between book releases, I feel like I’ve forgotten a lot of important details so I’d love to do a re-read of the first two books before tackling book 3. I guess we’ll see what happens.

What books are you planning to hit up this month?


Follow my blog with Bloglovin