Thursday Thoughts: My New YA Library Book Club Read The Raven Boys and LOVED It

Monday night, I had my first young adult book club at the library. I chose The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater for our first read (duh). I was a little worried that my teens weren’t going to like it – not because it isn’t GREAT (because it is. Like, seriously), The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvaterbut because it is quite different from most of the books I’ve seen them read. I was so overwhelmed with happiness at their reactions to the book and our discussion, which, by the way, lasted an hour and a half! We talked about the characters and the setting (we loved everything about both), the magic and the journey that each of the characters are on, what all of the characters are looking for (like Adam is looking for a family and Ronan is looking for redemption) and which of the characters was everyone’s favorite (Ronan, obviously). We discussed the fact that the romance was more of an underlying theme in the book and that the friendships and bonds between the characters was the most important aspect. We chatted about Blue and how being the only non-psychic in her family makes her different from a group of people that are already different and how that shaped who she was as a person. We swooned over characters (mostly Ronan and Gansey) and were creeped out by others (Whelk and Noah – half of us loved Noah and half thought he was weird). It was a brilliant discussion and I was so impressed with my teens.

I promise this isn’t a whole post about me being excited and happy with the turnout (even though I TOTALLY AM). One thing I asked them to do was to come up with ONE word to describe each of the characters and the book overall. I adore this series, so I thought it’d be fun to share these descriptions with you guys.

ADAM
Relatable // Underdog // Brave // Emotionally strong (okay, two words. Whatever)

GANSEY
Irritating (she wanted me to point out she only felt this way at first) // The perfect guy // Smart // Huggable (she didn’t want me to share this one but it’s too cute)

BLUE
Spunky // Quirky // Sassy // Outsider // Relatable

NOAH
Creepy // Confusing // Weird // Wonderful // They liked his name

RONAN (aka my boo)
Dangerous // *heart eyes emoji* // Indescribable // Sweet AND salty // Bada$$ (she said bad a-word. Lolz.) // Everyone’s favorite

THE BOOK OVERALL
Sad // Intelligent // Mesmerizing // Complex // Smoldering (I said this one and they all agreed) // Enchanting // Perfect (I was over the moon when they said this)

——————–

As I’m sure you can all imagine, I was unbelievably happy about their reaction and the fact that it went so well. After our discussion, I told them I was going to let them make suggestions for our next read and then we’d draw it out of a hat if we couldn’t come to a consensus. This was when my little librarian heart grew three sizes: they said they’d actually rather I decide because they trust my judgment and they knew I’d get them to read something they wouldn’t usually pick. I could have CRIED, you guys. I gave them a few suggestions and told them what the books were about (and maybe got a little too passionate about a few of them), and they decided to go with…MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold. YES YES YES. I cannot wait to discuss this book with them! We also decided on the two months following September: we’ll be reading I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (asdfjkl) and The Young Elites by Marie Lu (ASDFJKL;). I’m just really glad that I’ve got teens who are willing to try new things and who want to read and who love TRB and…

I just have a lot feelings gif

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My Entry for The Raven Cycle Art Contest

So you may have heard that Maggie Stiefvater is hosting an art contest for a chance to win one of ten decks of the tarot cards she drew for the Blue Lily, Lily Blue blog tour. They printed some extras and she’s giving ten decks away. I have like a genuine need to have these. They are absolutely beautiful and I adore this series and Maggie’s artwork. Anyway, you have to post your entry on your blog or Twitter or whatever. I thought you guys might enjoy seeing my Raven Cycle/Ronan inspired artwork. If not, I mean, just disregard this post. Ha.

Ronan is probably my favorite character from the series (along with Chainsaw, and closely followed by Noah). I think Ronan is a fascinating character, and his ability to pull things from his dreams is both incredible and terrifying. I think my artwork reflects him and myself; at least I hope it does. Let me know what you think in the comments, please! And if you want to enter the contest, you have three days left. Enter HEREDSCN0008

ARC Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue
So if you’ve read my reviews of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, you could probably tell that I LOVE The Raven Cycle series. I was super excited to get approved for an e-ARC of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and I was not disappointed.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, young adult
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
416 pages, hardcover

WHY? WHY IS IT OVER??? WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT SO LONG TO FIND OUT WHAT’S NEXT?? Ahhh.

Okay. Breathe, Stefani. Breathe.

If you haven’t read either of the other two books in the series, this review might contain some spoilers. If you haven’t read either of the other two books in the series, what the heck are you doing with your life?? Seriously. Drop everything, and go read them.

This book picks up where The Dream Thieves left off. Everyone is heading back to school. Blue’s mother is still missing. The Gray Man is still in Henriette, but now so is his employer, Greenmantle. I don’t want to give anything else about the plot away, so if you need more, check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

This book was all about character development. Stiefvater continues to develop the characters in these books in such a subtle and careful way. The characters develop in ways that make you wonder if you haven’t always known that about said character. Stiefvater is a master of her craft.

The Raven Cycle series hypnotizes you when you turn the first page. The books put you under a spell. I don’t think about whether the book is good or not. I completely forget that I’m even reading a book and I float through the pages spellbound by the magic and power of Stiefvater’s words.

The pacing in this book was perfect. It had me on the edge of my seat or relaxed and grinning like a fool when I needed to be. This book had more Gansey and Blue moments that the other two, which was lovely. SPOILER if you haven’t read: I wish it had a few more Ronan and Adam moments. I ship them SO hard.

Even though there’s A LOT happening in this book (mysterious caves, lawsuits, missing people, new characters, tombs, death) this book is about friendship: the friendship between five people who are all in love with each other in different ways. The friendships between the Raven Boys and Blue are beautiful, obsessive, loyal, and downright real. Love love love.

Also, the ending.

TroyGif

The bottom line: My only complaint is that I read this book on my Kindle. I wish it had been a print book so I could flip its pages and feel the magic brushing off on my fingers with each turn. I will most definitely be buying a print copy of this. I cannot wait to reread The Raven Cycle books.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Read So Far in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

NOTE: All book titles are linked to my review of the book except the last two, which are linked to their Goodreads page. Also, each book is followed by my rating; you can check out my rating system to see each rating explained.

The Maze Runner    Love Letters to the Dead    Since You've Been Gone

1. The Maze Runner by James Dashner – 9 (practically perfect)
2. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira – 9
3. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – 9

Anna and the French Kiss     Lola and the Boy Next Door     It's Kind of a Funny Story
4. Anna and the French Kiss – 7 (Pretty good) / Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – 8 (Freaking fantastic)
5. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini – 10 (Perfection)

Gone    The Raven Boys    Attachments
6. Gone by Michael Grant – 8
7. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – 9
8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – 8

And those read before I started my blog (Linked to Goodreads)

The Bling Ring     Will Grayson, Will Grayson

9. The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World by Nancy Jo Sales
10. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

 

What are the best books you’ve read this year? Did you participate in TTT? Link me to it in the comments!

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys

Title: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Supernatural/Paranormal

Publisher: Scholastic

Publication Date: September 2012

Paperback: 408

Stand alone or series: Start of a series

How did I get this book: Bought

 

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from Goodreads):

“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.

What I thought:

It took me about 30-40 pages for me to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked. I couldn’t read this book quickly, like I usually do, but it wasn’t because it was hard to read. It was because the prose made you slow down to savor the words and feel the magic surrounding them.

The Raven Boys is just gorgeous. There were several times that I got goosebumps because I could actually feel the magic in the book. The prose was absolutely beautiful. Let me give you a couple examples of this:

“This was a beautiful, old wood, all massive oak and ash trees finding footing among great slabs of cracked stone. Ferns sprang from rocks and verdant moss grew up the sides of the tree trucks. The air itself was scented with green and growing and water. The light was golden through the leaves. Everything was alive, alive.” – page 219

“The air moved slowly around his body, somehow tangible, gold-flaked, every dust mote a lantern.” –I’ve lost the page for this! L

“When Adam got to Cabeswater, it felt like a living being. The wind through the leaves was like the bellows of an exhaled breath and the hiss of the rain on the canopy like a sucked-in sigh.” – page 381

Asdfjkl; – so pretty! Safe to say I was captivated with the prose and it drew me in and wrapped around me like a warm blanket.

As for the characters: I loved them all! Stiefvater has a way of writing each of the characters so carefully that each of them feels developed even if they aren’t central to the story. Blue was fascinating: the daughter of a psychic who doesn’t have the abilities of the rest of her family, but amplifies the abilities of those who do. She was different and strange and wonderful. I found myself wanting to go on these adventures with the Raven Boys, and I was glad to put myself in Blue’s shoes to do so. And the Raven Boys – oh, man. They had such an air about them. They were real, quirky, relatable, sarcastic, and I loved them. Even Ronan.

The story was so unique and interesting, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Maggie Stiefvater is a master storyteller, and I was very excited to read another book by her (I loved her Wolves of Mercy Falls series). I liked that though the romance was central to the summary, it was more like an underlying theme throughout the book. It was there, but it wasn’t being thrown at you. It made it more beautiful that way.

I will say that the book is one of those smoldering, slow to burn novels. It never feels boring or sluggish though. It’s just not going to give away its secrets all at once. This may bother some people, but I really enjoyed it. It felt even more powerful because of that. But it does take a bit to get into the story and might make it seem confusing at time because there is just so much happening.

Also, I won’t give anything away, but that last line?! I literally said “What?” out loud about ten times when I finished. You can ask my family. They were just staring at me, but they’re so used to outbursts like this that they just let it go. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.

The bottom line:

Magical, beautiful, smoldering, lovely. All words to describe this book. You can feel the magic in the narrative coming off of the book’s pages.

Rating: 9 – Practically perfect

Reading next: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

 

Have you read The Raven Boys? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Bout of Books – Wrap up!

So I’m sure you noticed this past week I participated in Bout of Books, especially if you follow me on Twitter.

I had a blast! Though I didn’t reach my book goal because I was/still am sick, I thought I did pretty well anyway.

Here’s my wrap-up.

Books I read (these are all linked to my reviews):

  1. Gone by Michael Grant (558 pages)
  2. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (449 pages)
  3. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner (308 pages)
  4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman (234 pages)
  5. And I read half of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (I read 212 pages of 408)

I read a total of 1,761 pages! My goal was to read five books and post five reviews. I read 4.5 of 5, so that’s not too shabby. I also posted 4 of 5 reviews.

Challenges I participated in:

  1. Books I’m Looking Forward to
  2. Spell It Out
  3. Rainbow of Books

My goal was participate in at least two challenges, so I definitely met that goal. These challenges were really fun! I loved digging through my bookshelf to find all the colors of the rainbow and to spell out TARDIS with the first letter of titles!

Twitter chats:

I participated in the Saturday Bout of Books challenge on Twitters. I found some new, amazing book blogs/BookTube channels to follow, which is awesome! Here’s my favorite tweet (this was in response to what is your favorite mythical creature):

https://twitter.com/katieyatesbooks/status/467695385721704448

So funny. The Twitter chat was really fun, so I’m definitely glad I participated in it.

The bottom line:

Overall, I had a really great Bout of Books. I was sinusy sick for most of it, which sucked because I had a sinus headache pretty much the whole time I was reading. I’m really glad I participated in the readathon and I can’t wait for the next one! Did you participate in Bout of Books? Link me up to your wrap up post/video so I can see what you read!