Tuesday, July 30, 2013

[Review] The Dream Thieves *****

Firstly, I want to apologize to everyone who can't read these books yet. I feel like I'm living in a dream because I've been lucky enough to get my hands on ARCs of two books that I have been drooling over for almost a year. I hope that by reviewing these now it will excite anyone who reads this blog to go out and get these when they come out. PLEASE do! I'm ordering a signed copy from Fountain Bookstore as we speak!

The Story
The Dream Thieves continues where The Raven Boys left off, with a few of our favorites changed and secrets revealed. If you haven't read The Raven Boys yet, I won't spoil you on any of the juicy details, but I'll give you the short version of the tale: The story centers around Blue, a girl from a family of psychics and mediums who has no power of her own except to enhance the abilities of others. All her life she has been told that if she kisses her true love, she'll kill him. Luckily for Blue, she has no interest in finding her true love among the rich and statused Aglionby "Raven Boys," but in this case, finds friendship with four boys any way. While Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah may look rich and spoiled on the outside, they each harbor their own not-so-normal secrets, the biggest of which is that they're looking for a long dead Welsh king, who if found, can grant a wish to the one who finds him.

In this sequel, we have the boys and Blue continuing their search for the ley line and the reason why they haven't been able to find Cabeswater, the location closest to the ley line. This book is also about growth, and each of the characters begins to move toward their larger destiny and the truth of who they truly are.

What's So Great About It?
The hardest part about telling all of you why this book is so amazing is trying to do it without spoiling the best parts of the book (so here we go.) In a nutshell, it has to be the characters, their growth, and their changing interactions with one another. Throughout the first book the reader is baited with this idea that Blue might have to deal with the fact that she could potentially find her true love...and then what? You aren't given a definitive answer on this until this book, and believe me,  the wait is completely worth it. The problem over Blue's true love definitely isn't completed in this book, but you can see the beginnings of something that is really going to be hard for Blue to handle by the end of this series.

Then there's Ronan. Oh, Ronan. I have completely and utterly fallen head over heels for the way Maggie writes her characters and how she makes them seem so unbelievably real, especially when they are so breathtakingly flawed. This is what I've always been a fan of in books, and the broken ones always seem the most interesting to me. Just: Ronan. I wasn't a huge fan of him in the first book, and I'm thinking it was mostly because we didn't get to see much of the book from his perspective. Here there is enough to make any Ronan fan giddy and then some. The secret that Ronan discovers about himself not only changes what he thought he knew about his life, but contributes to the overall weirdness that is happening in general with the books' mythology in a spectacularly amazing way.

Why This Book?
If characters are what draw you deeply into a book, The Dream Thieves is something you need to get on your shelves. Maggie Stiefvater does an amazing job with using description as something that makes you truly feel what the characters are feeling in a way that I haven't encountered in many books, let alone in much YA, and it's this gift of hers that makes her such a fantastic writer and author. The connections that she creates between what she is trying to say and her reader is often times so good that it's painful. I found myself physically moved to stay in the world of her book, and when it was over, felt like I was leaving my own world behind. Perhaps that's a bit extreme of an example, but it's the best way I can describe the way Maggie sets up her worlds. I would HIGHLY recommend this book in a classroom, both middle school and high school. The prose might be a little much for the average 7/8th grader, but high school students will eat this up, especially the boys. There is enough racing and modified cars in this novel to get even a girl like me, who has fascination with muscle cars, squeeing over the detailing.

Pick up this book as soon as it comes out in September. No. Seriously. And if you don't have the first one, GET IT!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One day I'm going to need a library with a ladder

Organizing my book shelves today, I realized that my shelves have exploded since college. I read a lot as a kid, but never really kept my books, opting to donate them once I finished (my mom was big on clutter and books became clutter). It wasn't until I began to make my own money and could buy the books myself that I started to collect them. I've given them away over the years, donated some, and tried my best to only buy ones that I've really enjoyed or might read again. This hasn't always happened.

I also think that you can tell a lot about a person by their book collection. So, here's a glimpse into my psyche. It's kind of crazy.

My Essentials

As a writer, I think that my favorite book of all time is the Thesaurus. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one book, after I freaked out about having to CHOOSE one book, I would pick the Thesaurus. I'm pretty sure I own at least 10 of them. I don't remember what age I was when I understood the magic of this book, but once I did I couldn't get enough. I won't lie, sometimes I'll sit and just read it. Finding new words is amazing.
Other books included here: Baby Names for finding new names of characters. Dictionary of Difficult words for funsies, and Grammar for Dummies, because no one is ever a grammar expert and I will always be referring back to a book.

A Quick Tour of My Shelves

I don't have enough. There are 4 in my apartment. Technically 5. The first two shelves are YA books that I haven't read yet and the two large cases consist of my favorites and my miscellaneous. The first black shelf I've read all of, the second is a collection of non-fiction, poetry, collections, grammar, psychology, philosophy, classics and etc.

Here's a close up if you're curious about what I consider to be amazing books. There are some doubles because I'm crazy like that. (The smaller shelf is my night stand. This is my unofficial 5th shelf because it always ends up holding the books I should read next.)

Getting a Closer Look

It's not that I'm running out of room, per say, but I don't have enough space to really place my books the way I want them to be. I actually have a good-sized collection of manga at my parents' house that never made it over to my apartment. So here's my latest acquisitions. As you can see, everything from Bride of the Water God  to psychology and Albert Camus ends up on my shelf.

My Attempt at Being an Academic

 I have always fought myself on "classics" as in I can't really get in to most of them. Jane Eyre  was the first "classic" that I really fell in love with and I didn't know it at the time, but Animal Farm also helped me get into them. Even today, I'm really picky about my classics, but I'm trying to broaden my reading variety. I always buy a copy of whatever I think I might like with the promise that I'll read them, even if I have to drag through because I'm also a proponent of reading certain literature just so that you have that background knowledge coughprideandprejudicecough. So here is my attempt to be academic with literature.

The Book You Buy Even When You Already Have It

These are my babies. For someone who collects books, there will always be an author or a certain book that you will buy no matter what. Robert Frost is one of those exceptions. I think I have five different copies of his "collected" works in different forms. One is small enough I can carry with me, another I have in my classroom library and these two I keep at home. You never know when you might need Frost.

 From My Hometown

I grew up in historical Gettysburg Pennsylvania and spent my childhood nose-deep in stories about ghosts (#1 most haunted town in the USA!). I even spent the past 4 summers as a ghost tour guide, taking people around the streets of Gettysburg telling a fraction of the never-ending tales of fallen soldiers. At Gettysburg is the diary of a girl who lived through the battle and something I read to gain more historical background about the battle. I absolutely love these books for their connection of history with the paranormal.

Poetry: My Not So Secret Love

I cant' exactly pin down when it was that I found myself obsessed with poetry. I knew I enjoyed it in high school (and wrote some terrible stuff myself), but it wasn't until college that I truly became a connoisseur and the words really slapped me in the face. What I love most about English and writing are the words. My favorite part is the way the sounds and meaning of words can come together and create this new meaning. I love connotation and denotation and how that can play together to make something new. Hence, Poetry. I got pulled into Ranier Maria Rilke by Maggie Stiefvater who quotes some of his work in her Wolves of Mercy Falls novels. Conrad Aiken I literally stumbled across in my college library. I pulled a book off the shelf of poetry, randomly opened it, and found "Sound of Breaking". I've never fallen in love with words so quickly.

I Fell in Love with Shakespeare Through Theater
Theater I fell in love with during high school after seeing my high school's production of Brigadoon. The following year I got into the pit orchestra and played flute for the next three years. I had always enjoyed theater in the way that most people do, through it's cousin the movie. Yet, I had never really put together the fact that plays are originally a story on a piece of paper that people bring to life with their words. This was how I finally fell in love with Shakespeare. Reading something and seeing it performed live are two completely separate experiences and when reading plays I feel it's imperative that you not only read, but see what's being written as well. Spring Awakening is definitely the pinnacle of what I love about theater. It started off as a banned play in Germany and became a rock musical that changed Broadway in 2005. I saw the musical before I read the play, but I came to love the words so much more by having seen them shown to me live on a stage. 

And Last, that Cute Factor

You see that empty space being occupied by relics of my childhood? That space wont' last long. Ever since I saw Beauty and the Beast and became complete enamored by the Beast because he gave Belle a LIBRARY, I always knew that would be my fate. Sometimes I sit at my shelves and just contemplate all of the eternity in front of me. So many lives and worlds and experiences, all cocooned in square inches of space that I can visit any time I want. There's something powerful about being able to collect such a thing, and the idea of having so much that I might need a ladder to access it all, makes me so terribly giddy. So, keep on reading, people. Keep on collecting. And yes, allow your cats to get in the pictures once in awhile. Here's Buffy, reminding me that there are live animals in my apartment as well as worlds.