Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:

If you’ve followed this blog for a substantial time you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Maggie Stiefvater. Well, at least most of her books. I think Stiefvater’s words are like music. She paints a picture with her tone and voice and it flows from the pages to take residence inside you. Having broken my heart with FOREVER (read review)
THE SCORPIO RACES was a redeemer for me. The book was poetic in the interaction of characters and the way the story played out. I was captivated, horrified and enlightened from one moment to another. I don’t know many authors that can accomplish this. If you haven’t had the honor of reading a Stiefvater piece — go out and buy THE SCORPIO RACES, you will not be disappointed, because while it is just a story about a girl, a boy and two horses – the writing in-between makes it resonate.

REVIEW:

On an island called Thisby water horses rise from the sea hungry and confused at the onset of winter. While their arrival is cause for terror as the horses feed on flesh, the islanders balance the fear of the horses with a race that they hold every year, called the Scorpio Race. The men of the island capture water horses and try to tame them, then they ride upon the shore in a bloody race that leaves a lot of people dead or seriously injured. This is the story of a girl named Kate and a boy named Sean. Both lost their parents to the horses and both are riding for very different reasons but in the end it breaks down to the same thing, they are chasing their dreams and trying to hold on to the unsteady life that is their island life.

Sean is the powerhouse, winner of four races, his horse Corr is a beast to be reckoned with. He is the races favorite, the horse whisperer that people call for him whenever the horses act up. Yet, even though he has won four races he is still indebted to his boss, who favors him, but not enough to give him the freedom he so desperately wants. To win this last race means freedom.

Kate Connelly is an orphan, her and her two brothers were left to fend for themselves on an unforgiving island. Her older brother has had enough and he is leaving her and her younger brother Finn. Without Gabe they will lose the house and be forced to work in the Mill or some other odd job that will mean overly hard work and bad living conditions. Kate signs up for the races to delay her brother’s departure and maybe save their house. She will be the first woman to ever enter the races and the other islanders are not taking kindly to her entry, especially when she decides to ride her own horse, an island pony, instead of a deadly water horse.

This is the story of a deadly race. People die, but in the midst of it all a boy and a girl find that they have more things to race for than just things like freedom and family. Just once they discover what they are truly racing for, will they survive?

Breathless, enchanting and horrific, Steifvater did not hold back anything. Stiefvater’s tales aren’t pretty little pieces; with candy and high schools and kisses… they are emotional and real. They sit in the pit of your stomach, sometimes hard to digest; yet the prose and lyrical writing makes it go down so easy. I would find myself fascinated with a description of a facial expression. I had never heard it described that way – but it made so much sense. Stiefvater sees the world in a different way and then expresses it in her writing, by the end of the story you’ll realize that you so desperately want to see the world how Maggie Stiefvater sees it…it would make life so much more interesting.

To be specific about this novel, the characters almost come to life. Kate (Puck) Connelly and Sean Kendrick are epic, they both have their little Idiosyncrasy which are so token Stiefvater. Their flaws and odd habits make them seem more real and relatable as opposed to some of the perfectly formed, über hotties with super powers that you see in other young adult novels. Then there is the setting of the novel…the cliffs of Thisby jump off the page with the wonderful descriptions, I could almost smell the sea as I turned the page. Then there was the story of the water horses, these great beasts that as the winter closed in on Thisby, would rise from the water and kill. They feasted on flesh, attacking humans, sheep and other domestic animals, even other horses. They are huge, menacing and fast, demons from the water that terrorized the island during a certain time each year. It seems so odd, but it was a wonderful story and definitely another PJV favorite. If you haven’t read any of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing you are really missing out. Why not start with THE SCORPIO RACES?

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Recommended for mature teens, there is violence and a bit of language. Nothing inappropriate. If you enjoyed her Wolves of Mercy Fall you will like this one. But, note there is more focus on the plot then there is on romance.


 

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Young Adult Novel

 

Review: Ashes by Ilsa Bick

Review: Ashes by Ilsa Bick

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:

ASHES by Ilsa Bick is a unique story of an apocalyptic event that will have your skin slithering and your heart pounding. Written in a militaristic style of attention to detail and precision writing I was instantly in love with the author’s style. I can’t wait to read more from this world and this author. ASHES if you love dystopian is a book you do not want to miss!

REVIEW:
Alex, our heroine is broken from the onset. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and battling the pain of the recent loss of her parents, she treks into the wilderness in what is a sort of abstract defining herself period. Intent on being alone she is slightly irritated when an older man and his very surly young granddaughter ask to join her camp. They have barely finished breakfast when something disastrous happens. Screaming pain, odd animal behavior and Alex’s world is suddenly much more complex than only five minutes earlier. Alex and the young girl, Ellie, must make their way out of the wilderness to what they believe is the safety of civilization. Yet, as they trek further towards what they believe to be safe territory a reality starts to unveil before them…and it is not comforting.

The first contact with other humans is the scariest thing you’ll read in ASHES as Bick describes in gruesome details how it would be to view a girl pop an eye out of someone’s socket. On top of the details there is the fact that Bick holds no punches, she lays everything out, gruesome, emotional and non-emotional. This isn’t a story of how the “most centered and perfect person” deals with an apocalypse – this is the story about someone real, someone that weighs out their own survival, deals with a new world where just the act of finding something to eat is a desperate search. Bick mixes apocalypse zombie fiction with dystopian political narratives and makes it into something that is a little more than the usual young adult fiction. This book will get you thinking, scare the crap out of you and have your heart-breaking all in one paragraph. DON’T MISS THIS ONE. I haven’t been this freaked out by a young adult novel in a long time.

One of the main things that stood out in this book was Bick’s voice. Where most female authors possess a, well, to put it bluntly female tone, with focus on love and internalizing emotional trauma, Bick almost had a man’s tone. I may be off at times, but I do believe there is a big difference in the writings of a man and woman. Men tend to take an outside in approach, females inside out. This I believe is why men tend to be so good at writing horror and mystery, women dramas and romance. Stereo typical, yes, but it is a majority, not across the board. There of course are great romantic male authors, just like there are some amazing mystery writers that are female. Now, let me bring it back to Bick. Bick parleyed both worlds. Alex while, very internalized also had a broad viewing, the best of both worlds. The narrative was almost militaristic, which would make sense with Bick’s military background. It led to a highly original tone and a book that shouldn’t be passed up.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
Dystopian and apocalypse fans run, don’t walk to get this book. You will not be disappointed. This has violence and some sexual undertones so it is recommended for mature teens.

 
 

Young Adult Novel
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Review: Vanish {Firelight #2} by Sophie Jordan

Review: Vanish {Firelight #2} by Sophie Jordan

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:

For a second in series, VANISH was handled fantastically. Sophie Jordan had my anxiety levels up and I really felt for these characters. Heartache for Jacinda, pity and disgust for the mom and a sort of fear and happiness for Tamra — along with a slew of other emotions for the secondary characters that were introduced or brought back in the second novel. Intense elicited emotions is what I live for in a book – the plot might have a few holes but if the book creeps in and forces unique emotional responses from me, I’m in love. Top this with a good plot, great character building and on-your-toes twists and turns…well I’m smitten with Sophie Jordan and her fire-breathing creations.

REVIEW:

Jacinda has sacrificed herself again. Back to the pride they go with Cassian as their guide and the newly manifested Tamra. Yet, all she can think of is Will. Her love for him is so intense but she must protect him, her family and herself at all costs. And that means the pride, Cassian and the rules they will inflict on her – just hopefully, with her willful return her wings will not be clipped.

If her young adult books are this good I must go out and buy her adult novels, because I’m now a big fan girl of Sophie Jordan. To carry a second book this well takes talent – as I’ve noticed after a few badly digested second novels that I’ve recently read. This is a series that you don’t want to pass up, but it is highly suggested that you read book one.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Recommended for paranormal romance fans and young adult. Go back and read the first one if you haven’t yet, this is not a stand-alone. This is also recommended for more mature teens because some items might be a bit harder for a younger teen to process, yet, nothing at all explicit or out of order.


 
 

Young Adult Novel

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Time of the Faeries: Afterlight, End of the World by J. Corsentino

Time of the Faeries: Afterlight, End of the World by J. Corsentino

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:

Stunning is the first thing that comes to mind when I looked through this book. I was blow away by the visual explosion of the imagery. Often in fantasy art the imaginary will have a cheesy feel about it, all starbursts and unicorns with rainbows is the only way I can describe it. The type of artwork you pick up at the dollar store and see on the wall of 12 year olds or trailer parks (still have nothing wrong with trailers!). But, Corsentino’s work I am drooling over. I can’t believe he attained such realism with his shots. And I have to be honest, I had a very hard time actually reading the text because my eyes kept being drawn to the artwork. The story was just a little bit of bonus.

Review:

Afterlight, End of the World is the story of the Angels, which is dubbed the Angel Apocalypse. The world is ravaged by war and with the coming of the angels a renaissance period begins, but at the cost of our free will. A few humans revolt and the angels turn against the humans…it was quite a riveting story. Not quite as riviting as the imagery, but still something that held my attention. I would highly recommend this book for fantasy lovers – I want a big pretty book to sit on my coffee table and be able to flip through constantly. It is so very pretty. If you have the chance, check out ‘Afterlight, End of the World’ and here, love on some images to get your motivated.


 

 

 

Horror Recommendation: Darkfall by Dean Koontz

Horror Recommendation: Darkfall by Dean Koontz

The scariest book I’ve ever read actually happens to be a non-fiction book. ‘Communion’ by Whitley Strieber, it’s about alien abductions and is probably the reason I’m addicted to the History Channel and scared to death of alien abductions. Yet, topping my charts in the fiction category there are two power house writers that instantly come to mind, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Those two men defined my nightmares in my tween and teen years.

The cake topper, so-to-speak was a book called ‘Darkfall’ by Dean Koontz. The book covers a winter landscape and a city stalked by what the authorities fear is a psychopath. But as odd sounds are heard and silver eyes are seen the true horror of what is killing becomes known. Koontz is one of the masters of horror and if you are looking for some thrills and chills his books are where to meander towards. I would highly recommend his earlier titles, because like a good deal of authors their earlier work has something to prove – so it will stick with you.

Koontz’s timing and suspense are what keep you enthralled and the graphic detail that he goes into will chill you to the bone.  Koontz can just paint a picture of horrific proportions that is completely evil.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Recommended for horror fans, there are explicit scenes of violence and language. I read this one when I was young and I’m not scarred for life.

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