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Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Spoiler Alert: If you have not read The Raven Boys, turn around. Do not read this review. Also, why the heck not? That book is wicked awesome.

The Excerpt:

That night, Niall Lynch came home in the blackness, and when he woke, he found Ronan standing above him in the small white master bedroom. The morning sun made them both snowy as angels, which was the better part of a lie already. Niall’s face was smeared with blood and blue petals.

“I was just dreaming of the day you were born,” Niall said, “Ronan.”

He wiped the blood on his forehead to show Ronan that there was no wound beneath it. The petals snared in the blood were shaped like tiny stars. Ronan was struck with how sure he was that they had come from his father’s mind. He’d never been more sure of anything.

The world gaped and stretched, suddenly infinite.

Ronan told him, “I know where the money comes from.”
“Don’t tell anyone,” his father said.

That was the first secret.

The second secret was perfect in its concealment. Ronan did not say it. Ronan did not think it. He never put lyrics to the second secret, the one he kept from himself.

But it still played in the background.

And then there was this: three years later, Ronan dreaming of his friend Richard C. Gansey III’s car. Gansey trusted him with all things, except for weapons. Never with weapons and never with this, not Gansey’s hell-tinged ’73 Camaro slicked with black stripes. In his waking hours, Ronan never got any farther than the passenger seat. When Gansey left town, he took the keys with him.

But in Ronan’s dream, Gansey was not there and the Camaro was. The car was poised on the sloped corner of an abandoned parking lot, mountains ghosted blue in the distance. Ronan’s hand closed around the driver’s side door handle. He tried his grip. It was a dream strength, only substantial enough to cling to the idea of opening the door. That was all right. Ronan sank into the driver’s seat. The mountains and the parking lot were a dream, but the smell of the interior was a memory: gasoline and vinyl and carpet and years whirring against one another.

The keys are in it, Ronan thought.

And they were.

The keys dangled from the ignition like metallic fruit, and Ronan spent a long moment holding them in his mind. He shuffled the keys from dream to memory and back again, and then he closed his palm around them. He felt the soft leather and the worn edge of the fob; the cold metal of the ring and the trunk key; the thin, sharp promise of the ignition key between his fingers.

Then he woke up.

When he opened his hand, the keys lay in his palm. Dream to reality.

This was his third secret.

The Review:

In the second book of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, readers pick up exactly where they left off with The Raven Boys. Adam has made a sacrifice to awaken the ley lines around Cabeswater, and Ronan is showcasing his talents by pulling more than ravens from dreams. Blue, still working with the prophecy of kissing then killing her love, is falling deeper in with her “boys,” while Gansey is pulling himself apart trying to keep everyone together while still questing for Glendower. Darker forces are at work, however, when a mysterious Grey Man appears with orders to take out the Greywaren, and everyone is in danger if the ley lines are compromised.

Stiefvater’s writing is evocative and poetic, and blends in the supernatural with discussions of class and opportunities (or lack thereof). The Dream Thieves focuses more on the characters themselves rather than on the hunt for Glendower, which is both powerful and haunting. Ronan can pull things out of his dreams- but how much can he pull before he loses himself? And what about the consequences of Adam’s sacrifice? Or Blue’s prophecy when she’s starting to fall for one of the boys? The Dream Thieves builds with exquisite pacing, with a thudding danger surrounding everything, and the book ends on a cliffhanger that leaves readers crying out for the next book- everything that you want in a story. 5 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend pairing it with books similar to Jeff Hirsch’s Magisterium or the Lynburn Legacy series for the paranormal factor.


This was me reading this (warning, I read it in ONE LONG SITTING):

I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. Or to be more accurate, I could not turn it off because it was an eARC. I was SO drawn into Ronan’s and Adam’s struggles with all the paranormal and family struggles that it was just insane. We find out ALL about Ronan’s family (AND OMG, you will FREAK), and WHY none of the Lynch boys can go back to the estate. Adam is having problems seeing things and battling with controlling the powers he’s gained from merging with Cabeswater. The creepy aunt has disappeared, but her scrying stuff is still in the attic, and someone has been using it- but we don’t know who or why. We start to learn more about Blue’s dad. Noah starts to disappear. And Gansey is trying to hold everything together…..
Oh, yeah, and there’s this hit man that’s moved into town, and has started falling in love with Blue’s mom. And trying to kill Ronan. Even though Ronan isn’t the only one who call pull stuff from dreams. And remember, Ronan’s dreams aren’t pretty, happy, fluffy things….
And then BOOM! It ends. And I have to wait another year or so for the next?!?!?!?!?!??!

Take 10: Myths Made Real, when the world of myth invades the real world

“If I wasn’t careful, I had no doubt this monstrous wonderland would swallow Alice whole . . .” – My Soul to Save, Rachel Vincent

With All My Soul, book 7 in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, is scheduled for publication on April 1, 2013.  Soul Screamers is an urban fantasy about bean sidhe (banshee) Kaylee Cavanaugh.  Kaylee must balance her life as a high school student while trying to prevent the Netherworld from bleeding over into it.  There are hellions, reapers and more out to steal her soul.  Oh yeah, and we people are about to die, she starts screaming.

A Banshee is a woman from Irish mythology who begins to wail when someone is about to die.  A banshee is considered by some to be a type of fairy or a representative of the Underworld. You can find out more about the Soul Screamers series at http://rachelvincent.com/soulscreamers.htm.  Also, The Soul Screamers series has a huge following on Tumblr so check it out.  If you are not reading the Soul Screamers series, you are missing a great paranormal series that has developed a complex mythology based on characters not typically seen in today’s paranormal romance; there are plenty of vampires, werewolves and angels, so I recommend that you try Soul Screamers for something new and very interesting.

Want to dip your toe into more of the underworld? Check out these books.

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
Megan Chase finally learns the reason she has never felt like she truly fit into this world, she is the daughter of the mythical faerie king.
“I licked my lips and whispered, “Is this where you say you’ll kill me?”
One corner of his lips curled. “If you like,” he murmured, a flicker of amusement finally crossing his face. “Though it’s gotten far too interesting for that.”  – The Iron King, The Iron Fey book 1
Misfit by Jon Skovron
Jael discovers that she is part-demon the same time that she discovers that there are those among the demon world that want her dead.
“The stuff you do is way more important than the stuff you believe.”
The Fury Trilogy by Elizabeth Miles
Three strange girls visit the town of Ascension, Maine during a snowy winter and life is never the same as a deadly plan for revenge is put into place.
“Sometimes sorry isn’t enough . . .”
Croak by Gina Damico
Lex gets shipped off to live with her uncle who decides he is going to teach her the family business: reaping.
“Life isn’t fair. Why should death be any different?”
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Kate must pass a series of seven tests in order to make a deal with Hades and keep her dying mother alive.
“Me?” The corner of his mouth twitched. “I rule the dead. I am not one of them” 
The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
Aeslyn has always seen the faeiries, but they suddenly seem to be taking an interest in her.
“And he smiled at her, truly smiled- wicked and lovely…” 
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
A family curse, a haunting mystery, and the tragic love between a mermaid and a mortal weave their way into this haunting tale of love and death over the years.
“The more she loved, the more she ached.” 
The Reaper Diaries by Michelle Vail
At the age of 16, Molly is sent to an elite boarding school where she is trained to be a necromancer.
“The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird . . .”
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue is drawn to the Raven Boys, who are on a quest of their own to wake a sleeping spirit.
“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.”

YA Greek Mythology on Goodreads
YA Mermaids on Goodreads

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Book Review: The Curiositites: a collection of stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff

A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.

Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.

A world where fires never go out (with references to ice cream.)

Are you curious?

The Curiosities began as a writing experiment between three friends, popular YA Lit writers Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Breena Yovanoff.  And it ended with an awesome epic amazing curiously awesome collection of short stories.

The Curiosities is a fun look not only into the paranormal world, but into the world of writing and at a glimpse into the life of 3 friends who happen to be writers.  These stories are unedited and contain a variety of hand written notes throughout; in fact at one point, one of the authors circles a bunch of “it is” in one story and says that if she was editing the story, she would use more contractions.  Some of the other notes include:

“Full disclosure: I still don’t really know what this title means. But I liked how it sounded.” (p. 212)

“I almost convinced myself I could give this story a less unhappy ending, but that wouldn’t really be in keeping with the prompt.” (p. 78)

“Contrary to popular belief, this IS an ending.” (p. 10)

There are notes about the stories, notes about each other as a writer and fun things like a hand drawn diagram of Brenna’s brain, Tessa’s liver and Maggie’s heart.

Karen’s Pick for a Holiday Season Gift Book

There are other fun asides in this book, such as this list:

How to End a Story When You’re Stuck:
Kill Someone
Kill Everyone
Burn Things Down (apparently Maggie Stiefvater has someone inside her always saying “fire, fire”)
Make Them Kiss
Get the Paino Wire
Start Over
It Was All a Dream
End Mid-Sente . . .

Most of the short stories in this collection are good, unlike a lot of other short story collections.  But in many ways, that hardly seems like the point of this book.  No, this is a heartfelt look into the life of a writer and into a friendship – and it is truly quite glorious.  I really loved this book.  It is creative, interesting, and such an intimate look in the writing process, friendship, and the hearts (and brain and liver) of three very talented ya writers.

Here is my caveat: I don’t know about you, but my teens don’t really check out short story collections.  I don’t know why, but they don’t.  They never have.  And this book seems like a real fan’s book.  I imagine that the audience for this book is limited, maybe to three types of people: 1) those that are interested in learning more about the art of writing, 2) fangirls (and guys) – those who are fans to any one of or all of these ya authors and 3) me people like me who love a good story.  I can also seeing this be a huge success in the classroom as it kind of lifts the veil to the writing and editing process and behind the curtain you see the editing wizard.

To be honest, this is a 5 star book and I highly recommend it, with the above mentioned caveat.  And I think this is a great holiday gift book to anyone who would put themselves in the above categories.

P.S. – there is a really interesting twist on the zombie story in here.
So tell me, do your teens read short story collections, or are they dust collectors at your library too?/

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.” – first line, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press, September 2012
ISBN 978-545-42492-9

All souls that will die in the next 12 months travel the ghost road on St. Mark’s Eve, which is where you will find Blue Sargent.  Although Blue comes from a family with intense psychic powers, the only power Blue has in the power to emphasize theirs.  She does not see what they see until the night she sees a spirit who identifies himself only as Gansey on the path.

“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.”

Soon, Blue and Gansey are joined together in a quest to find the ley line, a place of intense magic and deep, powerful secrets that runs through their town.

The Raven Boys is pure, magical storytelling; rich in its use of language and fully fleshed out characters.  Even the shadows and the auras around the edges of the characters have meaning.  Every flick of the wrist, every thread out of place, every accent on the tongue – they all have meaning.  And each character plays off of the other like the pinball bouncing around inside the game, every action causes a reaction and even the details that you think don’t matter sometimes do.  In fact, you will want to re-read this book simply to see the pieces that you missed and see how they all fit together.

I have often said that I wish that I reviewed books based on their quotability factor (or at least I have thought it in my head), and The Raven Boys was full of quotes that I read over and over again.  My favorite was the way that Stiefvater the various Raven Boys; Noah is smudgy, Adam has a weathered look to his uniform that indicates his real status in life, Ronan is sharp and Gansey has layers that sometimes slip.  In fact, each of the 4 Raven Boys are their own treasures to uncover and each page you turn brings new insight.  Each of the boys will break your heart in their own ways, not just in swoony ways, but in the depths of their stories and in the revelation of their secrets.

I don’t even have the skill to tell you how amazingly good this book was.  It was lush.  It was haunting.  And in many ways, for me, it is this generation’s It by Stephen King; here is a story about a group of people who become friends, drawn together by a magical quest with their fates tied into one another in ways both horrific and divine.  This time there is no clown in the sewer, but very real people motivated by greed to unlock a magical door that can only be compared to Arthur attempting to pull Excalibur out of the stone.  And like all magical quests, things are often not what they seem, nor are the people who take them.

Anyone who has ever entered the woods and felt that they were in a magical place will recognize at once the glory that Stiefvater brings to The Raven Boys; here the woods are truly magical and time acts as if there are no rules.  Here there are legends of sleeping kings who offer a promise and trees that speak in Latin.  Here is the glory of fantasy right in a town that looks like yours or mine – and that makes the magic that much beautiful because, for just a moment, you think you can walk outside and find it yourself.

Your teen readers will devour this book, more than once I imagine.  5 out of 5 stars for its magnificent storytelling and amazing character development.  Highly recommended.