Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Review)

22009560Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Format: E-book
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Pages: 400

Date Finished: March 13, 2015
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

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.

My Review

Another really good book in the series.  I’m ready for book 4!!!  Seriously, Stiefvater loves some cliff-hangers.

Cliffhanger! Hanging from a cliff!

She really is building quite a story here.  It has tons of depth which is typically missing from YA books.

As you know, in my reviews of the last two books, I drew some parallels to Arthurian Legend.  I’m struggling with this one.  I know there is something there, I’m just not seeing it.  I’m thinking maybe Blue’s mom, Maura, is a Lady of the Lake figure, but Persephone may fit that role as well.  Also, I’m pretty sure The Gray Man and Greenmantle have Arthurian parallels.  I’ll have to see what happens in the next book.  Hopefully, they will become more evident.  I’ll keep you updated.

Wrap-Up

Please read these books.  They are really well written and engaging.

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The Dream Thieves (Review)

18039177Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Format: E-book
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Pages: 453

Date Finished: February 21, 2015
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

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….

My Review

I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first, but it was pretty darn close.  This story just continues to go deeper and get richer as Maggie Stiefvater takes us along.  I’d have to say this is pretty much Ronan’s book.  It really delves into his story and the dream magic he can wield, but there were several other things going on as well.

  • There is the introduction of a new character, The Gray Man.  I’m not sure what I think about him.  He seems to be a pretty descent fellow to be a hit man, but the jury is still out.
  • Adam and Gansey are having some major bromance issues.  I like the authenticity of the relationships in these books.  These guys have issues with themselves and with each other.  It is not all “love you forever” like so many YA novels.  There is conflict and they stress each other out.
  • Gansey and Blue are trying to get their crap together.  They can’t decide what the heck they are doing.
  • Adam is struggling to figure out what the ley lines are doing to him.
  • Noah is just trying to stay visible.

So, as you can see, the author has seriously jammed a lot of stuff into 453 pages.

Smoking Merlin animated GIFIn my review of The Raven Boys I drew some parallels to Arthurian Legend.  The comparisons continue here.  Ronan is a pretty freaking awesome stand in for Merlin!  So, if Ronan is a wizard, then Kavinsky is a wizard as well.  I won’t give away any details here because I hate spoilers, but let’s just say there is an awesome wizards’ duel at the end of this book!  I haven’t figured out Noah’s parallel yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Wrap-Up

If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second.  Stiefvater doesn’t lose any steam.

The Raven Boys (Review)

15995747Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Format: E-book
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Pages: 468

Date Finished: January 31, 2015
4.5 Stars

Goodreads Description

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, 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 is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher 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 doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

My Review

I was surprised by how much I liked this book.  I was introduced to the series through everyone blogging about Blue Lily, Lily Blue last year, so I figured I’d give it a try.  I typically have a love/hate relationship with YA, but especially YA Fantasy.  The angst and the conspiracy theories kill me.  They tend to use the same stale tropes, and don’t get me started on YA dystopian!  Ugh!  Sorry, back to the review…

The initial premise of The Raven Boys is that Blue, the heroine, has been told her whole life that she will cause her true love to die when she kisses him.  So, I anticipated a lot of romancy, angsty crap, but I was surprised that the “love story” really took a back seat in the plot line.  The majority of the book was your introduction to Blue, her rambunctious family and the Raven Boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah.  The other major storyline is about Glendower, a lost Welsh king, who is supposedly in a deep sleep and if you wake him, he will grant you a wish.  He is also supposedly buried somewhere along the Ley Lines in North America.  This is the quest of Gansey and the Raven Boys, and it soon becomes the quest of Blue and her family as well.

Now, I will not go into a lot of depth about my theory of how Gansey mirrors King Arthur, Adam passes as Lancelot, Blue is a solid stand-in for Guinevere, and Glendower is the perfect Grail.  I will, however, state that I wrote my college thesis on Arthurian legend in literature, so it tends to jump out at me on various occasions.  This is a straight-up quest story if I’ve ever read one.  I highly recommend delving into some Arthurian legend and making the comparisons for yourself.  The parallels are not direct, but they are definitely there.  It is moments like these, that I wish I was an English major again.

Lastly, Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is stunning.  She truly has a mystical way with words.  I love the imagery her writing conjures.

Wrap-Up

Read it!!  It is one of the best YA books I’ve read.  4 1/2 stars!!

The Glass Magician (Review)

22341276Title: The Glass Magician
Author:  Charlie N. Holmberg
Genre:  Fantasy; Urban Fantasy

Publisher: 47North
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Netgalley ARC
Pages: 224

Date Finished: December 8, 2014
3.5 Starts

Goodreads Description

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

My Review

After my luke-warm review of The Paper Magician, I finally decided to give The Glass Magician a shot.  It was better, but still not fabulous.  It only received a 1/2 star more.  Once again, the concept was really good.  The characters were likeable and the plot was decent, but it was missing that spark that ignited the burn to read it.  Do you guys know what I’m talking about?  Avid readers will know what I’m saying.  There is something that draws you to a really good book.  It sucks you in.  Sometimes you don’t even know exactly what draws you in, but I know this didn’t do it for me.

Much like the first book, the middle was slow.  Holmberg has really strong beginnings.  Then it seems like she loses her way a little in the middle and then pulls it all together in the end.  I’m not sure if I would recommend these books or not.  I know I won’t be reading any more of them.  With that being said, I’m sure there is a group of people this book will appeal to.  It has beautiful magic in it which is really unique, plus there’s a little romance.  Like I said, it just didn’t do it for me.

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley, 47North, and Charlie Holmberg for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

Once Upon A Time is Now (The Grimm Curse #1) (Review)

9952991Title: Once Upon A Time is Now (The Grimm Curse #1)
Author:  Stephen Carpenter
Genre:  Urban Fantasy & YA
Release Date:  December 10, 2010
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  83

Date Finished: November 16, 2014
3.5 Starts

Goodreads Description

Fifteen year-old Jake Grimm is the last living descendent of the Brothers Grimm, who wrote the famous fairy tales in the 1800’s. But Jake grew up with foster parents in Los Angeles, never knowing his true destiny until he ran away from his unhappy foster home, to the place of his birth–Woodland–a small town nestled deep in a Northwestern forest.

In Woodland, Jake discovers that the famous fairy tales are all real, and they are happening today. And Jake, as the last living Grimm, is the only one who can stop the witches, big bad wolves, and evil stepmothers who are all alive and well, and about to wreak havoc in the small town of Woodland, following the death of Jake’s great-uncle Eustace.

But these fairy tales creatures are not like those in the old stories. Woodland is a modern place, and the creatures Jake battles seem like completely normal, modern people–to everyone but Jake. Only Jake can see them for what they really are, and, together with his friend and apprentice, Madeleine, he must fight to prevent the evil that is all around the unsuspecting teens at Woodland High. 

My Review

When I found out Stephen Carpenter was one of the creators of Grimm (one of my favorite TV shows) I decided to give this book a shot.  It is similar to Grimm, but with a more pronounced YA vibe.  The main character, Jake, is only fifteen and has no idea what he is.  He gets pushed into the deep end of this crazy new world immediately upon arriving in Woodland.  Luckily, Madeleine shows up to help him along.

At only 83 pages, this tale was short and sweet.  It held a good bit of action, but I really would’ve enjoyed a little more build up.  The characters needed some fleshing out as well.

Overall, it was a pretty decent read.  I’d like to read a few more in the series to get a feel for whether they build or remain self-contained fairy tales.

Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6) (Review)

20818790Title: Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6)
Author:  Leigh Bardugo
Genre:  Fantasy & YA
Publisher:  Tor
Release Date:  June, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  32

Date Finished: November 17, 2014
3 Stars

Goodreads Description

In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things.

My Review

This folk tale relates to The Grisha trilogy in that it is set in the same world.  It does not have any of the same characters, so if you’re looking for Alina or Mal, you will be disappointed.

I didn’t like Little Knife as good as Bardugo’s first two folk tales, but it was still pretty good.  It had a wham-o ending.

I think Bardugo should seriously dedicate the majority of her writing to folk/fairy tales.  She has quite a talent for it.

The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5) (Review)

17790188Title: The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5)
Author:  Leigh Bardugo
Genre:  Fantasy & YA
Publisher:  Tor
Release Date:  June, 2013
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  32

Date Finished: November 16, 2014
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

In Ravka, just because you avoid one trap, it doesn’t mean you’ll escape the next.

My Review

This folk tale relates to The Grisha trilogy in that it is set in the same world.  It does not have any of the same characters, so if you’re looking for Alina or Mal, you will be disappointed.

This was definitely Bardugo’s homage to Aesop, as it was a fable through and through.  The moral of the story?  Cleverness may get you far, but wisdom is the key to survival.

Fun read!