Posts Tagged ‘maggie stiefvater’

Top Ten Series (Weishi)

I’ve seen a lot of tags like this (mainly on youtube) and it looked fun.

Disclaimer: I have not read every series in existence, so this list is literally my favourite series of this exact moment. It is very subject to change in the future. But it’s late and I feel like procrastinating so this is going to happen.

A few ground rules before we go onwards:
1. No Harry Potter, because that’s too easy.
2. I must have read multiple books from the series for it to appear on this list. So stuff like Ender’s Game or The 5th Wave where I can’t be bothered to read the sequels/they haven’t been released yet aren’t going to be here.
3. Only ten can appear – no more; no less.

This is sort of in order, though in reality it varies greatly depending on my feelings on individual books/series not being finished/genres that are hard to compare.

1. Chaos Walking – Patrick Ness
Also known as my favourite dystopian/science-fiction series ever. Possibly my favourite series ever (if you don’t count the serious nostalgic appeal of the HP series) and I can’t thank Yanni enough for shoving it into my hands.

2. Anna – Kendare Blake
Best Paranormal/Horror Romance that I have ever read. Mainly because the humour was perfect and the characters were fun and likeable and believable and Cas Lowood. Seriously, just read it for Cas. You will not be disappointed.

3. Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy
Favourite Middle-Grade series that I ironically read once I was no longer middle-grade. And honestly, I’m thankful that I did, because my gore tolerance is not high and there is some throat-slitting/eye-gouging/body-slicing that goes on. Well, I suppose it is 11+. And yes, I do love PJO, but it’s the darkness and humour and overall characterisation that pushes SP to another level for me (not to mention the seriously brillant planning in the plot. A++).

4. Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater
The writing and the characters and the dialogue and the world and just everything. Most realistic fantasy series that I can think of, and the only one where I am utterly convinced that it should be shelved as contemporary, not paranormal, because it is so believable.

5. Legend – Marie Lu
You will fall in love with the characters, and then Lu will tear your heart out. Repeatedly. And just when the first book can’t get worse, there’s the second. And when you think you’ve finally been through your utmost capacity of pain, Champion piles you in feels. I honestly recommend this book to anyone I know who likes dystopians or action or interesting worlds.

6. Unwind – Neal Shusterman
Which not only has a great use of third-person present that I’ve never seen done so well, but is interesting and full of very relevant questions and also likes to stomp on your heart.
And I haven’t read Unsouled. I’m sorry! I’ve been busy! I will, I promise, just let me get through House of Hades and Allegiant and all those other books that have been staring at me for months.

7. Skinjacker – Neal Shusterman
I wanted to not include the same author twice on this list, but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t know which series to bump down because I absolutely love both. Everlost and all its sequels are just so clever. Shusterman explores every single aspect of his world and asks the right questions to keep you thinking.

8. Percy Jackson – Rick Riordan
This is only referring to the first five books of the original series, and not the spin-offs. While I do like Heroes of Olympus, I haven’t exactly made my mind up yet on particular aspects, whereas I have some serious love for the Olympians arc. Percy and all his humour was what really made the series for me.

9. Underdogs – Markus Zusak
This one is a weird place for me, because the books vary a lot. While all are brilliant (as to be expected from one of my favourite authors), the first and third are weaker than the completely spectacular and heart-breaking middle book. However, I also know that Fighting Ruben Wolfe would not be as strong if it was not bookended by great character development and relationship arcs from the other two books.
In summary, this order idea isn’t really working out but I’m sticking to my choices because we’re nearly finished anyway.

10. Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
The fact that this had illustrations (and absolutely gorgeous ones) bumped up my entire rating of this series. I love the steampunk setting and the world, and Deryn and Alek are awesome and endearing characters.

Do I have honourable mentions?
Nah, I don’t think so.
A lot of series I could put on here but 1. Haven’t read the second book or 2. the ending sucked. Endings are important, and if a series has a promising start but then goes swiftly downhill, I can’t do it. I can’t include it. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth no matter how good the first few books were. I won’t name any names here, but I’m sure you guys have a few (almost certainly accurate) guesses.

Throne of Glass III & The Raven Cycle III


I really like how they’re keeping the uk covers for this series.

And btw that cover is BADASS.

Of course I haven’t exactly read Crown of Midnight yet so I’m probably missing any continuing plot points that are evident to people who are caught up. However I will say that the outfit design is AWESOME and Celaena is looking KICKASS.


Oh my god.

Oh. My. God.


So yeah, that about covers my reaction.

The cover is GORGEOUS. I have no idea what the title refers to (though I do spot BLUE in there), and I like the change up from the three word titles that the first two had.

Who is this mysterious flowered person on the cover?

Will we ever know?

Yeah, probably.

Both of these books will be released sometime in 2014 so this year shall be filled with lots of great reading. And luckily, these book series are both longer than the usual trilogy length, so we won’t have to mourn the ending of them just yet.

2013 Wrap-Up

I really didn’t read that much in 2013. Sure, I hit my goodreads reading challenge for the year, but that was mainly due to half of my entries being manga or short stories.

But I read enough books to find some absolutely brilliant stories. It was hard to cut this list down to only five, and I could do the whole “top 13 of 2013”, but I’m not sure if I even have thirteen books that I absolutely loved. So five it is.

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath –  As soon as I finished the book, I went back and re-read it; memorised quotes from it; thought about it for days. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.

2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – A realistic, vivid fantasy with gorgeous writing. And yes, I did re-read this one. Twice.

3. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake – I have never been so emotionally affected by a book. Theseus Cassio Lockwood, why do you do this to me?

4. Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak – It was gritty and beautiful and made me tear up half a dozen times. I should expect nothing less from Markus Zusak.

5. Champion by Marie Lu – The final books in dystopians almost always disappoint. Champion, however, was thrilling, exciting, emotional, and above all, realistic. A brilliant conclusion to a brillant series.

We hope you’ve had an amazing year, read some great books, and we look forward to seeing you in 2014 for even more reading adventures!

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

Sometimes, books in a series can be very hard to review, as you never know what the author is planning next.

Maybe a character is left under-developed in this first book. But perhaps the author is only doing this to prepare ourselves for terrific, mind-blowing development in the next book. Or maybe the character is just going to die off screen and no one will surely give a crap.

So I’ll do my best, however this review is subject to change as we shall see in the future where Maggie Stiefvater takes these characters. Because, oh, it has such brilliant potential. And I would hate for a potentially awesome series to fall flat on its face.


So there’s a girl called Blue who is from a family of psychics, however is not psychic herself. When she kisses her true love, he’ll die – which is, you know, great. And then she finds this guy called Gansey who is meant to die within the next year, and he’s either her true love, or she’s going to kill him. Most likely both. Gansey’s obsessed with finding the “ley line” which is this cool supernatural thingy, so he, Blue, and his friends go and search for it. And also try not to die.


First Book

This is more of a Con to reviewing this particular book than a Con for the book.

Nothing much happens in this book, as a lot of it is just setting up for the bigger story as a whole, so it means that sometimes it can read slowly. This is made up for hugely with the amazing bromance and gorgeous writing style and awesome characters and so on. But nothing much happening means that it’s hard to tell if the story will speed up and become more interesting, or if it will stay at this slow walking pace.

Blue’s Friendship

Usually this wouldn’t be a problem in books, however because this book did almost everything so impeccably well, I’m being especially harsh on it.

I was hoping for a different scenario in which Blue’s friendship happens. I was wishing for more tension when Adam invited Blue over into the helicopter, however it was very easy and very fast. Her integration  into such a tightly knit group was slightly strange to me, however it’s most likely because of their shared interest in the supernatural, and will probably be played on more in the later books, and it didn’t bother me as if this happened in most books, I would barely notice it.



It’s the most obvious, because it’s the most brilliant.

Friendships are easy to write. Close friendships aren’t too hard either. However, making them believable is the hard part, especially a friendship as close as this one.

You know when you meet a group of friends, so incredibly and obviously close that you feel completely out of the loop, not because they’re excluding you, just because they are so freakishly in tune with each other? They share similar humour, manners of speaking and general interests. And of course, they each are different individuals, but you cannot deny those very prominent similarities that just develop after spending way too much time with each other.

Maggie Stiefvater portrayed that beautifully, while also having each character very distinct and different from one another. How? I have no idea. A lot of times while reading this book, I would pause and reread a few pages, just trying to digest how she was so brilliant at writing these characters and their relationships. I wanted to do a critical study of The Raven Boys and see how she made the descriptions so gorgeously vivid, and the characters so fleshed out.

The friendships have both tension and disagreements yet also intense care and fondness, and are brilliant portrayals (in the opinion of a girl who’s, obviously, never been to an exclusively male fancy private school) of high school students. She writes them with maturity, yet also a recklessness and naivety that comes with it.


I love all the characters. I am not going to go into all the reasons why I love the characters, because I’m lazy and this review would get far too long, but let me promise you that all these characters are very individual, fitting to their situations and ages, all hold prominence in the story, and are all important to the plot. With a possible exception to Persephone and Calla, who’s backstorys and intents have not been revealed to the fullest (though they probably will soon. I’m so freaking curious about Persephone), every character has this brilliant past that contributes to the story, and without them, the book would probably be very different. And they were likeable! Hooray!

Out of all the characters, I would say that Blue is the least developed (which is still extremely developed, however the standard of this book is just very high), however I have high hopes for her in the next books.

Writing Style

I’m pretty sure this book earns an entire star just for the absolutely amazingly fantabulous writing style.

Even if this book had been very bland in description, I still would have given it a high mark for the dialogue and characters alone, but add in the writing style of awesomeness and BAM, you have a great book. Just… the atmosphere and the word choice and the brilliance of it all is just… I want to read more Maggie Stiefvater books. I want to read them and let her magic with words soak into me like osmosis.


The romance between Blue and Gansey did not go the route I expected it to take (and by that I mean there wasn’t any romance between them). Our lovely author could have taken it the very obvious route, but instead, we have Adam pining after Blue. Hopefully, if this turns into a messy love triangle, it will be a good love triangle that’s necessary to the plot. And the romance between Adam and Blue was believable! Yes, YA fiction! You have done it! A romance that does not make me want to throw up!


  • “How do you feel about helicopters?”
    There was a long pause. “How do you mean? Ethically?”
    “As a mode of transportation.”
    “Faster than camels, but less sustainable.”
  • “He strode over to the ruined church. This, Blue had discovered, was how Gansey got places – striding. Walking was for ordinary people.”
  • “You are being self-pitying.”
    “I’m nearly done. You don’t have much more of this to bear.”
    “I like you better this way.”
    “Crushed and broken,” Gansey said. “Just the way women like ’em.”
  • “Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”
  • “In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.”
  • “Maura had decided sometime before Blue’s birth that it was barbaric to order children about, and so Blue had grown up surrounded by imperative question marks.”


I want to give this 5 stars very badly, but I’m going to withhold them for the very fact that it could go either way. This book does not scream to me immediate perfection, but I love it, all the same. And I am absolutely getting my hands on the sequel when it comes out. 4 3/4 shuriken stars. READ IT! Or don’t, if it doesn’t seem like your type of book, because it won’t be everyone’s.

This book has been a saviour throughout wading through bad books, trying to not wonder if I’ve just used up all the good books, and that all books I stumble upon will be inherently bad. It’s given me a new source of hope that there are brilliant YA fiction books with good character development, solid plot, interesting characters, good writing and originality still out there, waiting to be read.

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio RacesI had mixed feelings before reading this book.

A while ago, I tried reading Shiver – probably the most well-known book by Maggie Stiefvater – and never finished it. I got up to chapter 2 and never went any further. It certainly wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t interesting, either. I had to return it to the library, and never had the compulsion to take it out again.

But The Scorpio Races was on sale, so I bought it. And this is what happened.

Plot Summary

People race flesh-eating horses and try not to die.

Fine, I’ll give you the official blurb from my copy of the book:

Every year, the Scorpio Races are run on the beaches of Skarmouth. Every year, the sea washes blood from the sand. To race the savage water horses can mean death, but the danger is irresistible. (Awesome, right?)

When Puck enters the races to save her family, she is (and this is where the summary becomes terrible and cliché and completely misleading) drawn to the mysterious Sean, the only person on the island capable of taming the beasts.

Even if they stay together, can they stay alive? (It sounds exactly like a bad YA romance now, doesn’t it?)

A breathtaking ride that will make your heart race. (And even more misleading information was given out on the damn UK edition)



That blurb (I’m looking at you up there) is incredibly misleading.

First of all, Sean isn’t exactly mysterious. I mean, he’s sort of mysterious to Puck – in that brooding, silent way – but half the book is told from his perspective. Yep, we spend half of this 400+ page book in this guy’s head, listening to his thoughts and fears and ambitions and emotions. Doesn’t make him very mysterious to us.

And also, the blurb makes it sound like this entire book is going to pivot around their romance (which it does not. I counted two kisses total, and both are extremely short). The story is really about family and friendship and loyalty and fighting gender roles and the power of the underdog and so on and so on. The romance does not hold very much gravity towards the story, which is a nice change in YA fiction.

And lastly, it’s not a fast book. It’s not action packed and full of the races, it’s mostly the build-up towards the races that matters. It’s how the races affect the characters and how the races reflect the attitude of the island as a whole. It’s a lot of world building and it’s very atmospheric with character development and a really interesting back story; not just battle scenes and race scenes and bloody fight scenes.

No Sequel

The rational part of me is happy. The book doesn’t make sense to be part of a series, it’s centred around the races and how they affect this one storyline and it’s very inclusive and ties up all the ends. I prefer an author to take the decision and know when to end their story or stop writing about their world instead of carry it on and on and on until it’s dragging and repetitive and irrelevant. (e.g. what I’m worried The Mortal Instruments will turn into, since Cassandra Clare plans to end up with a lot of freaking books just based around shadowhunters. Three was enough, six was more than enough, but now…)

Please welcome irrational me to the stage, who is going to speak. And irrational me begs for more about Puck and Sean and the entire world because it was so intense and evocative and emotionally investing and I fell in love with the characters, even the hateful ones like the Malverns, because they were all so real with little quirks and traits and were so well developed. And, most importantly, completely believable. At least a little novella to maybe just to see how our characters are doing?


Puck and Sean were kind of indistinguishable. Not in terms of personality, in terms of their Point of Views. At times, I lost track of who was speaking and what was happening, or I’d think I knew and then suddenly they’d talk about themselves in a different gender and I’d get confused. But it wasn’t really much of an issue.

The Name “Puck”

Can someone please explain to me how you get “Puck” from “Kate”? I was really hoping that name would be explained, but nope.


I will put it this way, if I stay up late reading a book, I know that that book is good. The only times I will do that is if I either get really hooked, the book is so fast paced that I can’t bear to put it down, or the storyline keeps ending in cliffhangers.

The book was neither fast paced, nor riddled with cliffhangers.

And when I finished it, damn, I felt empty. I felt so out of touch with the reality of the world, so out of touch sitting in my room, isntead of the gloomy beaches in Thisby, that I went back to reread the last chapter, just because I didn’t want to leave the amazing, immersive world of The Scorpio Races.


The book was incredibly atmospheric. I really want to reread it, not only because I loved it, but also because I want to know how Maggie Stiefvater created such an intense, chilling mood, and made me feel like it was really on this cold, unwelcoming beach, looking out to the dangerous sea. It was all so incredibly vivid, incredibly real, and so completely addicting. She has a brilliant way with creating such wonderful imagery, that in some ways it reminded me of The Night Circus, another book with gorgeous language and very clear pictures. Maggie Stiefvater is certainly a very very good writer.

Another way that it’s similar to the Night Circus, is what the book centres around. Really, Puck and Sean are minor characters in this book, the main being the Scorpio Races. As they show, the Island is a character. It is harsh and unforgiving and dangerous, but Puck loves it all the same, the way Sean loves the beastly creatures that are the water horses (I would give it the proper name, but frankly, my bookshelf is too far away and I’m feeling particularly lazy at the moment).


I really loved how the book felt like a fairytale. Again, I don’t know how, and I don’t know what Maggie Stiefvater did to make it feel that way. I loved Thisby, this island that seemed timeless, and it’s strange customs and it’s mystical, mysterious, gothic quality that it had. I haven’t read a lot of Fairytale-esque books, but of the ones I have read, I’ve always loved. So maybe it’s my own personal taste that made me love the dark fairytale this is.

Love Triangle

You may wonder why this is in the Pros section. Most times, I absolutely despise the love triangle. But this time, it wasn’t a typical love triangle, but something much, much better.

Puck needs to win the race because she’s extremely poor and soon to be evicted from her home. It’s her last, desperate chance to be able to support her family. Sean’s favourite horse is Corr, who he absolutely loves, and the owner will only let Sean buy his horse if Sean wins. Puck’s not torn between Sean and another sexy guy, she’s torn between him and her love for her family. Because they can’t both win, so inevitably, one of them is going to lose something they love.

And that is why I love this conflict so much. Even though both of them really do like each other (it’s more like adorable, awkward teenage romance than full-blown starcrossed love that will beat the universe), their bonds of friendship and family are far more important.


The minor characters were all brilliantly three dimensional. Sometimes crass and scary and dangerous and idiotic and hypocritical and manipulative, but possessing good qualities like loyalty and kindness and generosity…etc. They were all developed and distinguishable, instead of bland clichés made to make the main characters look better.

Puck and Sean were brilliant and very believable. They were realistic and actually likeable, which is a nice change to what usually happens with me and characters. And they felt really three dimensional; they didn’t take one cliché and build around it like most books do, even my favourite books, as it’s very hard not to do that. But they felt like real, breathing, living people. And their love of wild, dangerous things was a really nice aspect. We can see how much Sean cares for the water horses, how he devotes his entire life to understanding and caring for them, even though they could kill him. We see Puck’s complete longing to stay on the harsh island forever, and how she is unable to understand why people would want to leave. It echoed the whole reason why the races exist in the first place, because the people couldn’t resist the temptation of danger.

Believable Romance

I actually routed for Puck and Sean to get together. Puck feels awkward and unsure when talking to Sean, and vice versa, but they also bicker and disagree and it’s nice to see something that could realistically happen. And their relationship is actually built on liking each other’s personality, and lots of long talks, instead of a conversation then ten make out scenes like a lot of YA romance. It’s the type of romance I would reread because it’s not really heavily spread on or nauseatingly sugary, as we see that they value their friendship and respect even more than their romance.


  • “You leave nothing to assumption,” Dory Maud says. “You swallow her with your eyes. I’m surprised there’s any of her left for the rest of us to see.”
  • “It’s easy to convince men to love you, Puck. All you have to do is be a mountain they have to climb or a poem they don’t understand.”
  • “The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.”
  • “Shhhhhh, shhhhhh, says the sea, but I don’t believe her.”
  • “We are shoulder to shoulder due to the size of the cab, and if Gratton is made of flour and potatoes, Sean is made of stone and driftwood and possibly those prickly anemones that sometimes wash up on shore.”
  • “There are too many people on horseback today trying to prove themselves, trying to prepare, trying to get faster. They haven’t discovered yet that it’s not the fastest who make it to race day.
    You only have to be the fastest of those who are left.”


I was contemplating how to rate this. I knew it would be high, since I loved it, but I didn’t know how high. My instant thought was 5 shuriken stars, but I was reluctant. But really, there’s nothing substantial I didn’t like about the book. Just thinking about it makes me want to reread it (I reread some of it to put off work and it was still as awesome as the first time), and I loved the many themes touched upon, as well as the characters, the entire atmosphere and the world building of this fantasy setting. So what the hell, I’m going to give it 5 shuriken stars, because the more I think about it, the more it is one of my favourite books.