SINNER by Maggie Stiefvater Book Review
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3.5
Publication Date: July 1st 2014 by Scholastic Press
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |
Book Summary: Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?
Book Review Overview:
- It’s been a while since I read Forever, but I was able to jump into SINNER without getting lost
- Cole and Isabel still have kick-ass chemistry
- Couldn’t put it down
I fangirled when I first heard about SINNER by Maggie Stiefvater. The ending of Forever had left me aching for more Isabel/Cole, and I was a little bummed out that their ending had been so open. Luckily, Maggie Stiefvater had blessed me with this companion novel in which Cole St. Clair returns to Los Angeles to find Isabel Culpeper. But returning to LA also means returning to his rock star lifestyle – the lifestyle that ultimately had led to his downfall. Cole returns to the spotlight despite the risks in order to also return to Isabel’s life.
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater Book Review
Series: The Raven Cycle, #1
Publication Date: September 18th 2012 by Scholastic Press
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |
Book Summary: “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.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Book Review Overview:
- Unlike any other mythology-based YA book out there
- Fascinating three-dimensional characters; I can’t pick a favorite one
- Promising start of a new series
Let’s face it: mythology-based young adult novels have flooded the market. Some are obviously not well done as the others. THE RAVEN BOYS blew my expectations to a whole new level. The combination of the supernatural, paranormal, and mythology based on Glendower, a Welsh ruler, worked effortlessly in another unique and fascinating novel by Maggie Stiefvater.
What made THE RAVEN BOYS so successful in its execution is Maggie Stiefvater’s ability to craft such-three dimensional characters. The raven boys, Blue, Blue’s mother, and the psychics living at 300 Fox Way had so much depth to them. Maggie Stiefvater is able to craft such intricate backstories for each character so that you feel as if you know them personally. It is hard to pick just one character that I loved because I just felt like I got to know all of them at a personal level, but there is still definitely a lot more that I can learn about the characters in the subsequent novels.
Stiefvater does continue to write in alternating third-person perspectives like her previous novels, but the focus leans most towards Blue and Gansey. Blue Sargent, our main protagonist, has lived with her mother in a house full of psychics since the day she was born. Though her mother and her aunts were all born with the gift, Blue does not have the gift of sight. She is only able to amplify the energy of others, but no one knows why. Since she was little, Blue had been told that if she kissed her true love, he would die. This was the hook that initially propelled me to read THE RAVEN BOYS. Blue is fated to meet her true love, but she doesn’t know who he is and exactly under what circumstances will lead to his death. I found it fascinating to see her struggle between living her life the way she wants to and living her life controlled by her fate.
Like any other Stiefvater novel, there is a hint of romance in THE RAVEN BOYS. THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater is not centered around an epic love story like her previous Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but more about this epic quest to find Glendower and to learn how these people are all interconnected through fate. I sense an epic love triangle in the future books, but surprisingly, I’m not quite bothered by it. I think it will be interesting to see how Maggie Stiefvater pulls it off. It will definitely be a question of fate: who is truly Blue’s soul mate? While off to a good start, I can’t wait to see how Stiefvater will continue to develop the relationships between the characters in the future books.
It amazes me that Maggie Stiefvater is able to pull off a novel with a combination of ghosts, psychics, Welsh mythology, and I guess a little bit of witchcraft. It works. Honestly, I was most fascinated with the psychics at 300 Fox Way and I loved the scenes in which we got to see the women use their powers. The tarot card readings were my favorite part, and like the characters, I loved to compare the predictions to what actually happened in the novel. I think what Maggie Stiefater had set out to do was quite ambitious, but she manages to pull it off successfully in THE RAVEN BOYS.
After 400-something pages, it is a bit disappointing that THE RAVEN BOYS is only the first of a series. Lots of questions were left unanswered and the search for Glendower has only just begun. However, I was left with a sense of satisfaction after finishing the book and I honestly cannot wait to read more. THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater does not end on an epic cliffhanger – thankfully – but it does end with a surprising statement that will only entice your desire for the next book.
I may be just a tiny bit biased, but at the end of the day, Maggie Stiefvater still continues to be one of the most brilliant writers in the young adult genre today. Stiefvater has a magical way with words and THE RAVEN BOYS is a promising start of a new series.
About the Author
All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.
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MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama Book Review
Publication Date: September 4th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: – Poor
Book Summary: Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.
Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama Book Review Overview:
- Lack of suspense due to the alternating timelines
- Unrelatable protagonist
- Interesting premise but failed to grab me overall
MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama is a genre-bending mix of historical, paranormal, and fantastical centered around hauntings and mermaids. Hester is determined to figure out the cause of a century-old curse that causes the women in her family to die after childbirth. By digging through the past, Hester uncovers secrets and mysteries that have long been forgotten.
First of all, I felt a lack of connection between myself as a reader and Hester. Maybe she’s just a bit mature for her age, I don’t know. I do know that I am well past the targeted audience for MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama and I couldn’t quite relate to Hester’s intense worry about not ever becoming a mother. Hester prevents herself from ever getting too close to any guy because she knows that in the future, giving birth to a child means her premature death. Um, okay, but do you really worry about all this while still in high school? Falling in love with someone in high school doesn’t mean you’re going to get hitched and have a baby… And if Hester didn’t want to ever risk having a baby in the future, there are modern alternatives such as surrogate mothers and adoption. But let’s not get carried away…
Initially, I loved the alternating timelines between the present and the past, but as the plot moved along in MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama, the alternating timelines were detrimental to my enjoyment. For the most part, the alternating timelines ruined any surprises for the reader along the way. Because I knew what happened in the 19th century, I spent the majority of the book waiting for Hester to just figure it all out already. The clues are laid out for the reader, so instead of discovering something new along with Hester, the reader has to impatiently wait for Hester to catch up (which only happens at the end of the book, go figure). It made reading the chapter set in the 19th century fascinating, but the chapters in present day a bit on the dull side.
The love connection between Ezra and Hester just didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel any connection between them. It was a little disappointing that there was so much emphasis on the romance between the two of them when it really wasn’t a spark. Don’t read MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama if you expect some heavy romance.
Fama creates an interesting world regarding the mermaids, but I think it could have used a little more development. This is a serious mermaid book, and I was quite lost in all the folklore.
Unfortunately, MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama was just not the book for me. The fantastical and paranormal elements just did not work to my liking.
Why I’m Biased: My best friend,Caitlin, started reading Monstrous Beauty before I had a chance to pick it up. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get into it either. I went into Monstrous Beauty with a bit of negativity, I guess. Also, the author’s blog post on ARCs doesn’t really settle well with me either (post has been removed).
Other Book Reviews:
The Blair Book Project
About the Author
Elizabeth Fama is the author of Monstrous Beauty (FSG 2012), and Overboard (Cricket Books 2002), an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.
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