Friday, October 31, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #48 - Book Recommendation

A weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View

How it Works: 

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

This Week's Question: 

What books would you give to newbies in your favorite genre? (Ex. I'm a newbie to high fantasy and EVERYONE said to ease into it with Throne of Glass series) - suggested by Take Me Away 

This Week's Answer: 

So my two favorite genres are Historical Fiction and Fantasy. I feel like I talk about HF a lot. I did a Top Ten Tuesday a few months ago where I recommended HF books based on your other reading tastes so if you are interested in that you can check it out [HERE]

As for Fantasy I would recommend The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising). I think a lot of people don't like fantasy because the authors can overwhelm you with world-building and there's either too much or it's confusing. Leigh creates and interesting and fantastical world but she builds it slowly and definitely shows instead of tells.

And... it's not a genre (though it is Fantasy) but there is a lot of talk about Brandon Sanderson in the blogosphere these days and a lot of people are reading him for the first time. I've suggested first Sanderson reads to a few people but if you like Fantasy already check out Mistborn (it's flawless) but if you like Dystopian then check out Steelheart (it's amazing). ALSO... if you're just getting into audiobooks, Steelheart is a brilliant audiobook and you should start there!

Okay, that's it, I'm done. I have recommended enough books to you. But seriously, read Brandon Sanderson! He's my newest auto-buy author, he's brilliant. And there is a whole community of Sanderson fans that will support you through the feels and gush about him with you!

And remember this is a blog hop so take a look around and if you like what you see give me a follow and leave me a comment so I can follow back. I am indifferent to the manner in which you follow so pick your poison: GFC, Bloglovin, and/or Twitter.

Thanks for dropping by, Happy FF and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ARC Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Title: Rooms
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: September 23, 2014 by Ecco Books (Harper Collins)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways. 

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

*** I received an advance copy of this book free from the publisher at BEA for an honest view in return. This fact has not changed my opinion ***

I'm so glad I waited to read Rooms until the very end of October. This was the perfect book to read this time of year. The writing, the complex and mysterious characters, the intricate and exciting plot all screamed fall to me.

This is the first book I have read by Lauren Oliver and I was extremely impressed by her writing style. It flowed with grace and beauty. Sometimes when I'm reading I'll find quotes that strike me as interesting or deep and I'll want to write them down on a post-it note to remember later. It has been awhile since I've done that, but Rooms had me writing down more than a few quotes. I wouldn't have predicted that a book about ghosts would have had such a deep commentary about life, but it did. The book will keep you awake at night but not in the traditional scary story sense. It will keep you awake thinking and reflecting in a way that you didn't quite anticipate. But more than that, Lauren's prose perfectly established the mood of this story. It was atmospheric and mysterious. It was spooky but not scary. Throughout the book, I felt this sense of uncertainty and wonder, all established by Lauren's style of writing.

But in addition to her prose, when I say Lauren's writing I also mean her expert handling of the intricate plot of the story. This book is extremely layered. The pacing is a little slow at times, but it is also the kind of book that you can read 50 pages without even realizing it. I wasn't sure I was enjoying it until I got about three-quarters of the way in when I didn't want to put it down. That is the point where Lauren starts to peel back the layers and reveal truths she had been keeping under wraps. From there it's like a downward (upward?) spiral. It's big reveal after shocking twist, and the last 50 pages had me gasping audibly and holding back tears on a crowded bus. If you can be patient with this book, there is a big payoff at the end.

However, it may be a little too intricate. The book is told from a lot of different perspectives and from characters both living and dead. And while I understand it was a big part of the story, it was a little confusing. At the beginning of the book I would have said that this is more character-driven than plot-driven. It was more about learning the characters to establish the basis for the story. We need to be able to slowly learn from them their story and history, to see what they are holding back and what they don't want us to know. At least a few of them were unreliable narrators and I wasn't sure who to believe and that wasn't necessarily a good thing at times. I would also forget who was talking, I would mix characters and back stories up, and I would wonder why we were hearing from that character at that time. But then when the plot started to kick into high gear then it started to all make more sense. In the end it all ended up tying together and making sense. 

Exploring old houses is something that I have always been extremely interested in. I always wonder what the house was like when it was first built, what certain rooms were used for, and what had happened there throughout it's history. I have wanted to read a book like that for some time and I found that in Rooms. It's not your typical haunted house story nor is it your typical mystery. It effortlessly combines elements of the two to make something unique and interesting. It's a book more about the secrets of a house and the people who have inhabited it. If you are looking for a "scare your pants off" Halloween story then keep moving. But for me it was perfect. It was an interesting combination of supernatural and mysterious. It was the perfect kind of mystery where the whole thing was so expertly planned that in the end little things made a huge difference. The end built to a thrilling climax that shocked me more than once. It was the essence of fall for me. It was a cold wind blowing by a dark and mysterious house full of secrets.

I give Rooms by Lauren Oliver a 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! If you are looking for an atmospheric novel that takes you on the mysterious exploration of an old house then I definitely suggest this book. It will appeal to fans of mysteries and thrillers more than fans of horror despite the supernatural elements. And while this is an adult book with sexual content and swearing it does have some crossover appeal. If Rooms isn't already on your list, add it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To Be Read Tag

Thanks to the very sweet Marly at Flyleaf Review for tagging me! I thought about filming a video version but I'm slightly behind on my reviews for the month so I thought this would be the perfect post!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
Not very well! I have a "to-read" shelf on Goodreads but I very rarely update it. I also have a Amazon wishlist that I am even worse at updating. I do plan out the books that I am going to read on my blog including review copies and I do this via an excel spreadsheet. I pull the pile and then it'll sit on my bookshelf to remind me what's next. And then of course there is my actual bookshelf. But mostly I just have a lot of different ways that I use very poorly.

Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?
I would say mostly print. I only recently decided I didn't hate e-books and I definitely prefer print books, I read them so much faster and as a slow reader that's a plus. And these days e-books aren't even that much cheaper so when I'm buying books I'd rather grab a paperback. I do have a handful of e-books that I picked up when they had good deals and I have some e-ARCs but I'd still say it's mostly print books.

My October TBR Stack
How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
This is a difficult question because at any given time I'm usually reading around 3 different books. I'll have and e-ARC which I decide based on release date, then a print book which is usually part of a series, and an audiobook. Plus on weekends I try to knock out a whole book. Plus because I do themed months on the blog, what I am going to read next revolves around that. I will say I usually pick the theme for the month based on ARCs I have or books I want to read that are coming out that month, or a particular holiday that occurs.

A book that's been on your TBR list the longest?
In terms of on a list that I have never bought? In the Woods by Tana French. Strangely enough I actually have the second book in this series but not the first which is why I haven't picked it up. In terms of a book that I've wanted to read for a long time probably As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner which most of my friends in HS read in AP English and I didn't.

A book that you recently added to your TBR pile?
The most recent addition to my TBR shelf on Goodreads was A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. The cover was just revealed and it is so so pretty! It reminds me of that dress Sansa wore in the most recent season of Game of Thrones, you know the dress #TeamSansa! Anyway it is also a retelling of Beauty and the Beast which incorporates fairy lore. And if Heir of Fire is any indication Sarah J. Maas know how to write about badass fairies!

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover:
I wouldn't say that it's strictly because of it's cover because the premise does sound good but I was definitely attracted to it because of the pretty pretty cover and that it Tangled Webs by Lee Bross. It's just so pretty with the black background that kind of looks like leather and the bright pink lace that has designs and the text inside of it.

A book on your TBR that you NEVER plan on actually reading:
Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think I added it to my Goodreads shelf when it was super trendy because the movie had come out. And despite liking memoirs I'm not a big fan of non-fiction and I am an even less fan of books about travel, I think it makes me jealous, but also bored.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you're excited for:
SO MANY! Seriously 2015 is full of amazing sounding books that I need in my life! I'm going to go with Firefight by Brandon Sanderson. For one reason it's Sanderson, he's flawless. But it's also the second book in The Reckoners trilogy and I LOVED the first book in this series. I WANT IT SO BAD! But also

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read except you:
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski. I know I saw a few people include this on their list of series they want to start but it's one of those books that I feel like most people in the blogosphere have read. Recently I have been seeing a lot about the second book in the trilogy and it reminded me that basically everyone besides me has read this book!

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you:
Probably The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. My brother who rarely reads fiction and almost never reads YA has read this! Plus I love Historical Fiction but I'm not usually a big fan of books set during World War II. Everyone raves about this book so I should really get around to reading it.

A book on your TBR that you're dying to read:
The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I have heard mostly rave reviews about this one and I'm really really excited to read it next month when I do a freebie theme. It's going to be my second read after I finish In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken which came out yesterday and I'm really excited about, so I am going to include it too. I'm so curious about what is going to happen to Ruby and everyone else!

The number of books on your Goodreads TBR shelf?
Currently it has 100 but it is about to get a lot more. I used to just use it for books I wanted to buy or pick up but now I'm going to add books I already have and need to read and even books I want to read that I haven't added. So sorry for the spam if you're my friend on Goodreads!

So now I have to tag people, right?

Stephanie at Her Reviews
Jessie at Jessie Reads Everything
Brittany at Please Feed the Bookworm
Elizabeth at Book YAbber

What's on your TBR list? Do we have any books in common? Are there any on my list you think I should read sooner rather than later? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Heroines to be for Halloween

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I love Halloween! I love any excuse to dress up in a costume and Halloween is one day a year where it is socially acceptable to dress up like someone or something else. In fact it's awkward if you're not dressed up. But in case you haven't thought of a costume or if you have, here are some bookish costumes that may even help you bookpush your favorite author or series on your unsuspecting friends or strangers.

1.) Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Let's start easy and work our way to the more difficult. If you're like me you have a Gryffindor tie hanging around from when you used to dress up for midnight showings. In a pinch you can just be Hermione for Halloween by teasing your hair. Side note: my best friend and I were going to be the grown up Golden Trio one Halloween and I was going to be Hermione. But then I moved.

3.) Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay is about to come out in about a month so this one is still pretty topical. It's not as popular as it was a few years ago but that shows you're bookish and not just following the trends. All you'll need is a leather jacket, leather books, a bow and arrow, and a side braid. Boom... Katniss!

4.) Manon Blackbeak in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Okay so at first I was going to suggest Cealena but Manon would be so much cooler! After reading Heir of Fire I seriously became Team Manon. All you'll need is a red cloak, vampire teeth (silver if you can find them), blond hair, and a dragon. Then when people ask if you're a vampire you can turn on the Manon snark and tell them to read Throne of Glass!

5.) Sansa Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
You guys probably know how deep my love of Sansa is. I have been in hardcore debates with people about how she's amazing, complex, and tough. But in the most reason season of Game of Thrones you get to see a part of that. I would be demure Lady Sansa trying to survive in Kings Landing surrounded by her enemies but Dark Sansa in the Eyrie would be pretty great too!

6.) Lady Stoneheart in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
I'm seriously considering changing my costume to Lady Stoneheart. If you've only seen the show Game of Thrones then you have no idea who this is and you probably won't. But if you have read the books you'll know how badass she is! Just wear Medieval garb and make up to look like your neck is cut, you're zombie pale, and that you have scratches on your cheeks.

7.) Vin in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
I would rock a mistcloak like whoa! Vin very quickly became one of my favorite characters of all time, she's a complex lady and super badass. Plus there are lots of options for which Vin to be. I would pick koloss sword wielding Vin personally. And again if no one knows who you are you can bookpush Mistborn on them!

8.) Lilac LaRoux in These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
That green dress is to die for! I mean seriously, if you have the opportunity to wear a gorgeous green silk ballgown then take the opportunity! That's really all this costume needs. If you can find someone to dress as Tarver or someone to become your Tarver all the better. And once again, this is the perfect opportunity to bookpush a great book!

9.) Cath Avery in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Want a bookish Halloween costume that looks like you're just wearing normal clothes? I got you covered. All you'll need is glasses, a t-shirt that says "Carry on Simon Snow, a cardigan and a Harry Potter book that you can add a new cover that says Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance. And then when people don't know who you are supposed to be you can bookpush Rainbow Rowell

My actual Halloween Costume:

10.) Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Okay so I didn't even know this was a book until recently but it fits! All you need is to make her hat, get an umbrella and a giant purse then wear a white button-down and a red bowtie and belt with a black skirt. Very simple, very easy.

How about you? What are your you planning to be for Halloween? Feel free to take any of these ideas if you are still looking for a costume! Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, October 27, 2014

ARC Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Published: October 21, 2014 by Scholastic
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel

*** I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest view in return. This fact has not changed my opinion ***

I feel like a broken record with this series. I just keep parroting the same thing over and over again. But seriously with every passing book The Raven Cycle series keeps getting better and better. The characters are well-rounded and likable, the plot is intricate and mysterious, and the writing is beautiful and engaging.

First the characters. I have such feels for every one of them! I've said it before and I'll say it again, these characters are so real I can't help but love them. The more time we spend with them the more that they grow on me. The more that I learn about them, the more I like them. What I love about these characters that Maggie has created is that they are not perfect. They have strengths and weaknesses which makes them the kind of complex and well-rounded characters that are always more interesting to read about. It's hard to pinpoint who is the main character here. Gansey is determined and intelligent but single-minded and kind of selfish. Ronan who is tough with this hard exterior has a heart of gold and a dark sense of humor that I love. Adam is independent and hard-working but also stubborn and headstrong (side note I'm loving his development with the magical elements of the story). And Blue who is sassy and tough but puts up this wall so that others can't connect. That's sort of a theme with these characters. While they make up this great group and are amazing friends, they feel like no one understands them and won't really let others get close to them. It makes for some interesting ships (ugh, these ships are so amazing and so frustrating).

As the title may lead you to believe however, I'd say this is Blue's book. She is the focal point for the main plot thread of this book. She is the one who has to resolve the conflict for us to reach the exciting climax we have become accustomed to in this series. But that doesn't mean that Gansey, Adam, and Ronan don't get a ton of screen time too. The more time I spend with this series the more I realize that it is a coming-of-age story disguised as a supernatural adventure (I mean Maggie did use the word bildungsroman in the last book). Each of these characters have to come to some sort of enlightened development and learn who they are. In this book it was Blue who got that opportunity (plus Adam a little bit but who's keeping track). And along the way there were mysteries that were established and resolved, and tons of big reveals that led to more than one shocking surprise that left me confused and entertained.

That's one of the things that I love about this series, the plot is so intricate and expertly executed. I said it in my review of The Dream Thieves and it is less evident here but it is still true. With each book there is the larger plot that takes up the basis for the series and a specific plot to that book with a clear conflict and a clear climax. But until that climax, things are very complicated and confusing. I will say, in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I was less annoyed by the constantly changing perspectives. It's something that I generally don't love but it seemed to work in this one. Perhaps because each smaller plotline seemed to lead to the same place. As the series winds down the steps are leading to the main conclusion of the series that began in The Raven Boys and as the focus narrows things start making more sense. I'm excited for that conclusion, especially after the way this book ended.  

But I'm also not ready for it all to end! I've really enjoyed the time I have spend in the world of The Raven Cycle and Henrietta, Virginia. It is the perfect combination of Supernatural and Low Fantasy. There is definitely magic at work here, and the magic is growing with each passing book. The focus of this magic is also shifting from the general magic within the world to the individual character's magic (and that's all I will say about that). Plus Maggie does a great job of immersing us in this world of magic and intrigue. Her writing is gorgeous and lyrical. It gives the reader this sense of pleasant unease that perfectly compliments the world of magic and mystery. And this time it was easy to just fall into the world and read chunks of the book at a time. Maybe that's because it had more action and adventure, or maybe it's because I'm more used to the style. Either way it was a great continuation to this series.

I give Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater a 9.5 out of 10

Buy, Borrow, or Bypass: Buy! I have fallen hard for this series and Blue Lily, Lily Blue is just the latest in a fantastic Supernatural Fantasy with complex and likable characters, an intricate plot full of adventure, and with beautiful writing that helps you fall head first into this world. Run to your bookstore and pick up a copy if you haven't yet!

If you have read Blue Lily, Lily Blue what did you think? Are you as hooked on this series as I am? Leave me a comment with you thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #47 - Top Five Death Scenes

A weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View

How it Works: 

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

This Week's Question: 

Characters, sometimes our favorites, die during books. If you'd get to choose who would you bring back? - Submitted by Howling for Books   

This Week's Answer: 

Beware of Spoilers!!!! I like spoilers but I know most people don't so I have hidden the character name, highlight it to see who it is but you have been warned!

Can I say everyone? I am such an emotional wreck all the time that I sob like a baby through most death scenes. But in the interest of not overwhelming you in pain and sadness here are the ones that still really stick with me and hit me hard. My top 5 death scenes, get the tissues ready!

- Beth in Little Women which gets me ever single time, without fail! 
- Fred in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because it was so senseless! 
- Julia aka Verity in Code Name Verity because I still think they wouldn't possibly go through with it! 
- Daniel in Strange and Ever After because it was such a heroic and perfectly in character death! 
- Last but certainly not least Vin and Elend in The Hero of Ages because it was both of them in the span of twenty pages and THE SCENE WITH THE DAISIES! 

Excuse me while I sob into a puddle of my own tears and resent this question forever! Help me wallow on the comments section by telling me how much these deaths wrecked you. Or tell me what your most emotional death scenes were. Misery loves company! Leave me your thoughts in a comment.

 And remember this is a blog hop so take a look around and if you like what you see give me a follow and leave me a comment so I can follow back. I am indifferent to the manner in which you follow so pick your poison: GFC, Bloglovin, and/or Twitter.

Thanks for dropping by, Happy FF and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves
Series: The Raven Cycle #2
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: October 2013 by Scholastic

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis:  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...

*** This is the second book in a serious and this review may inadvertently contain spoilers for The Raven Boys. Read that first if you haven't! Here's my review to encourage you!***

I was blown away by how much I enjoyed reading The Raven Boys. I mean, I know everyone raves about it but I try to be cautiously skeptical and optimistic at the same time. But The Raven Boys was full of mystery, brilliant characters, and an interesting plot. So after a few weeks I was excited to continue with the story of Blue and the Raven Boys.

I wanted to just dive right back into this world and devour the book whole but Maggie's writing doesn't allow a person to do that. It sounds like a bad thing but really it's not. Maggie's writing is lyrical and poetic. This is not a fast-paced book, it causes you to slow down and take in every word. Her writing is the kind where you feel the power of the words. And while reading The Dream Thieves I was struck with my conflicting desires to fall into the book head first, and my desire to make it last. The latter definitely won out.

But Maggie's writing also brilliantly sets a mood that is atmospheric and interesting. The Dream Thieves didn't really feel as complicated as The Raven Boys but it was still full of mystery and adventure. This one definitely had more of what I would call magic to it. In The Raven Boys we got to explore some of the inherit magic and mystery in the town of Henrietta as well as it's connection to the psychics who are a part of the story. In The Dream Thieves we got all that and more. We were hit with a huge reveal at the end of The Raven Boys, and this book spend the bulk of it's time exploring that magic.

Speaking of that storyline, I was again struck by the plotting in this book. With a lot of series, they tend to just advance the larger plot and forget about the individual plot of each book. Maggie, however, doesn't do that. The Dream Thieves has it's own very specific storyline that has a clear resolution. But it also continues the story that began in The Raven Boys. We get to explore the consequences of the decision made at the end of the last book as we move forward with the grand scheme of things. And yes, the search for Glendower and Blue's curse takes a backseat, it is never forgotten.

As a personal preference however, I rarely enjoy when a book changes perspectives so much. In The Dream Thieves, like The Raven Boys we got to see the book from all different sides. And while it is good to vary the voice and to get inside the head of the characters who are all so complex and interesting, for me that makes things muddled and confusing. I would sometimes forget who was narrating a portion and when we would return to a character I would forget what had happened to them in previous sections. The changing perspectives were made a little easier by the fact that the characters are all so complex and enjoyable however.

Seriously, these characters are fantastic. The relationships that were build in The Raven Boys (and by relationships I mean between the characters and me) were only developed and solidified in The Dream Thieves. Blue and each of the boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah are such different and interesting characters. They made me laugh as well as cry. They each have strengths and weaknesses, they are smart and stupid. And they also all have flaws, none of them are perfect or cliche. They are well-rounded and likable. One of their greatest strengths is their friendship. This is a series about a strong group of friends coming together to achieve their goals. But I was so glad that we got to spend more time learning more about Ronan in this book. He may be my favorite. He's a mystery wrapped in an enigma and I love that he's a tough guy with a heart if gold. The Dream Thieves is without a doubt Ronan's book.

This series is getting better and more enthralling with each passing book. The plot thickens and gets more engaging, the characters get more exciting, and as we explore more of the world it becomes more intriguing and mysterious. When I finished I immediately picked up Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I'm not prepared to let it go!

I give The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! This series is a definite buy! Get prepared to fall into the world of mystery and friendship with gorgeous writing and complex and likable characters.

Have you read The Dream Thieves? What did you think? Am I prepared for the feels in Blue Lily, Lily Blue? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. As always thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Discussion Post: My Thoughts On How Rating Books is Hard and Opinions

I had been mulling over this topic for about a week now and in light of some recent drama this weekend I considered not posting it because it kind of relates. I may be overreacting a little but, it's a stretch to connect the two, but I think what happened has made us all a little worried about what we say and do, and that's not right. I usually try not to get involved with such situations within the community. But I don't at all agree with the behavior of the person in question and I did not want to let their abhorrent actions, their consequent bragging about it, and the fitting response from many people in this community stop me from expressing my opinion about something just because it kind of relates to the sticky situation. Plus I feel like it is even more important to be said. So here it is, my thoughts on some of the challenges of rating and reviewing books.

Book blogging, book reviewing, and rating books is hard! Knowing what to say is not easy, especially when it comes to books you may not have liked or had some problems with. Of course it's not easy to rate and review a book that you did love. I still can't write a review of The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson because feels threaten to overtake me, even now, but it's much less complicated. When you can gush about a book and talk about it's fabulousness it's a much more enjoyable review to write and to read. There won't be hurt feelings and everyone reading it will be encouraged to pick it up because you just raved about it.

But what about those books that we didn't like? Lately I've been trying not to review books that I truly hated. Mostly because I've tried to stop reading (aka DNF) those books before I grow to forever resent them (I still hold a grudge against a certain witch book I read about a year and a half ago and when I saw a friend was starting it on Goodreads I seriously considered telling her to stop immediately). There are too many books out there in the world to not read something I enjoy. But what about those middle of the road books? You know, the ones that were just okay. The ones that were enjoyable but you had some issues with.

Because reviewing and rating books is so difficult I find that it's natural to compare them to other books. As a book reviewer and blogger I try to be open-minded and impartial but when it comes right down to it, that's really hard. Pitting books against each other is probably not a good idea but relating them to other books you have read recently is so common. It's kind of one of the downfalls of doing themed months here. I compare all the fantasies I'm reading and then it's not a fair fight. I was just saying on twitter yesterday that I probably disliked a book because I read it at the same time as The Grisha trilogy and A Song of Ice and Fire. And comparing these books doesn't give you the most honest feelings usually. Like in September I had a stellar reading month. I read some truly mind-blowing fantasy that I just loved. But so far this month I have been let down by some books that I really thought I would enjoy. So was I tougher on a book in September (like Winterspell) because everything was amazing and easier on a book in October (like Blackbird) because I hadn't read something I really enjoyed in awhile. I wish I could say no, but the answer is yes. I will judge and compare books against my most recent reads especially if they are similar.  So if I'm having a reading slump I may be tougher on a book than I mean to be and vice versa. So then how do you qualify and quantify your feelings on a book?

The most common way to express your thoughts on a book is to offer a rating of it. On Goodreads this is a star rating from 1-5. You may have noticed that I use a 10 star rating. For me I think this offers up much more flexibility. On Goodreads 5 stars means you loved a book. And I have loved books that I thought could use some improvements. Whether they had plot issues, the pacing was a bit inconsistent, or I didn't like the characters, my enjoyment of the book is often not greatly affected by these criticisms. Very few things are perfect. And as far as I'm concerned I often criticize the things I love and I don't like being hard on those who can't handle it. Seriously, I can be incredibly mean to some of my best friends. But it comes from a place of love. And by criticizing a book I am not saying it is bad, I am just expressing my opinion.

Plus these posts are nothing more than my opinion anyway. I mean it's right there in the name of my blog, My "Thoughts" not My "Facts," it's just one amateurs opinion on something. And with all opinions you should take it with a grain of salt. I would never begrudge a person their opinion, nor would I get mad at them for expressing it. But know this, we all have different experiences and tastes. I can think something very different about a book than you did and neither of us are right or wrong. I see it all the time, people loving a book that I hated and vice versa. All I really try to do is make my posts as honest as possible and express my feelings about the book to the best of my ability, so that anyone reading can make an educated decision about whether they want to pick up a book or not. Or if you have already read the book to have a dialogue. Aren't we all here to connect with one another? To share? If you read one of my reviews and it starts a conversation or you are convinced to read or not read a book then my work her is done. And while I would love this to be a dialogue between me and you, it's really just a way for me to express those feelings.

So here is one of my feelings. You are all fantastic! About a year I decided to blog more consistently and that is when I found this community and it has been truly amazing. I have met and spoken with some lovely, intelligent, and hilarious people. I can't say that I have regretted a single interaction I have had with a blogger and author. You have introduced me to some amazing books that have become some favorites, some authors that are now auto-buys, and have allowed me to talk about books with you. It still boggles my mind that people actually read my reviews. Even when I am feeling like so small a part of this community I realize that I am still a part of it. Thank you all for indulging me in this hobby to express my opinions on something that we all love... Books. Thanks for reading my reviews, commenting, and following! And of course HAPPY READING!

Oh but wait, I almost forgot. What do you think? Leave me a comment about your thoughts on rating and reviewing books. What are some of the challenges you have? And seriously... GROUP HUG!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Series I Want to Start

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Mostly or Completely Out 

1.) His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers - Add to Goodreads
This is the kind of series that I would absolutely love. Historical Fiction set during the Middle Ages and it is about nuns who are also assassins. I've heard great things about it and with the third book Moral Heart coming out, I really wish I was more on top of reading this series, I even got the first two books from Netgalley!

2.) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - Add to Goodreads
I feel like everyone has read this series except me! When I first heard about it, it sounded like generic dystopia but everyone raves about it. Plus I hear it's set in a virtual reality which sounds pretty cool. I've only read one book set in a virtual reality game, Ready Player One, but I really liked it. Plus I hear good things about these characters.

3.) Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch - Add to Goodreads
Add this to the list of "books recommended by Nikki which will destroy my TBR." No, that's half true. I've heard really good things about this series from bloggers who have the same taste in fantasy as I do (including Nikki). It definitely sounds like a great book. I mean my OTSP Secret Sister even bought me the first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora!

Just One Book Out ... More Coming

4.) Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch - Add to Goodreads
I've been seeing this book everywhere now that it's finally out. I've wanted to read for quite some time and I'm excited to start a new YA fantasy series. I've head a lot of great things from fellow bloggers, especially about the ship. I'm so interested in this world and magical system! This book has been on my list for awhile and I'm hoping to get to it next month when I'm not tied to a theme.

5.) Of Metal and Wishes by Sara Fine - Add to Goodreads
So I've heard this is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, which I love. It sounds similarly dark and dramatic with Gothic elements. I mean it references a ghost in a slaughterhouse... Ah-mazing! Plus I have heard really good things about it. I think it's a duology and I plan to read it when book 2, Of Dreams and Rust comes out next year.

6.) The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkowski - Add to Goodreads
Seriously everyone raves about this trilogy. It has a girl in a pretty dress cover which you know I'm a sucker for and sounds really good. Not sure why I haven't started it yet but I plan to read it when the second book, The Winner's Crime comes out in March.

7.) The Young Elites by Marie Lu - Add to Goodreads
This is the one on the list that I may be most excited about. It was the one you all overwhelmingly voted on when I asked you to help me pick my November reads. I recently won a copy so it will be one of my first reads next month! I love villain stories and I hear this one is really dark and does things you least expect!

Soon to Be Out 

8.) The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia Gray - Add to Goodreads
Seriously I am so excited for this new series. The first book, A Thousand Pieces of You comes out in a few weeks and I have already pre-ordered which I rarely do. Parallel universes including a future version of London, Tsarist Russia, and a place where there are underwater buildings! So much excite!

9.) Red Queen Trilogy by Victoria Aveyard - Add to Goodreads
I need this book in my life! It comes out next February but I seriously need it! It sounds like my favorite kind of fantasy. It combines magical powers with political intrigue. I love the idea of the hierarchical and a hero who breaks the mold and can change society. Am I drooling? I feel like I'm drooling!

10.) A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab - Add to Goodreads
A magician who can travel in parallel universes. Sold. Four different Londons each darker than the last. Further sold. Main character is an ambassador and a smugglers. Yup, I need it. Adult fantasy written by Victoria Scwab. I NEED IT NOW!

11.) The Dregs Duology by Leigh Bardugo - Add to Goodreads
Let's be real, this book had me at Leigh Bardugo. But it's set in the same universe as The Grisha Trilogy and is about a crew of misfits who join together Ocean's Eleven style to do what I only assume is to rob something. This past week Leigh announced the characters and a new name of book 1, Six of Crows, on her tumblr do now I'm even more in love!

How about you? Are you excited to read any of these series like me? Have you read any, what did you think? What new series are you excited to start? Leave a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!