Cover Reveal: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Have you guys seen the cover for Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater? The cover for the 3rd book in The Raven Cycle is absolutely beautiful! Check it out:

Release date isn’t until October of this year, but I’m dying to get a copy of this book and I’m still working on the second one. This is such a great series. If you haven’t looked into it yet, I highly suggest that you do. ūüėȬ†

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Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The-Raven-BoysTitle: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Published: 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-42492-9

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them‚ÄĒnot 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‚Äôt entirely explain. He has it all‚ÄĒfamily money, good looks, devoted friends‚ÄĒbut he‚Äôs 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.

 

I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting much from this book when I first picked it up. I struggled to get started and I couldn’t get my head into it.¬†But I was pleasantly surprised. I picked up the book this morning, about 40 pages into it already, and finished it within three hours. That to me constitutes a good read.

I’d been briefly informed about this book by a friend and I was vaguely interested in the plot. This book really swept me up and away in its story. The characters are full of surprises and each is very well rounded. Stiefvater does an excellent job of creating very distinct individuals in¬†this mismatched¬†group of students each of whom is complicated in his own way. Gansey is a mysterious individual who is driven by a mad passion for the otherworldly, but is weighed down by this growing whole inside of him caused by his inability to reconcile his flippant attitude for wealth and privilege with the fact that life it not as easy for those around them who are less fortunate than he.

I love how much this book defied my expectations. The world that Stiefvater creates is so in depth and well thought out and there are so many elements to the spiritual side of things, making her story all the more believable with the ley lines, divining rods, energy sources, psychometry, and the paranormal.   I had goosebumps on every other page, unsure of how things were going to develop and what twist was going to be thrown my way next.

I felt like the side story of Neeve (Blues “half aunt” as she is described at one point) was unnecessary and not completely fully formed. Mystery shrouds Neeve but it can leave the reader feeling confused and a little lots when reading her sections. Neeve’s actions are often unexplained and are disregarded as her being a mysterious presence to the other characters, unsure of her motives and her actions. To me, she was a character created to add that spooky, mystical edge to the story, but the story may in fact be stronger without her. I’m sure that any appearances she makes in subsequent books will help to strengthen her importance to the story.

Noah was another character who, realistically, was inessential until three quarters of the way through the book. There are reasons for this that become apparent near the end (and I wont reveal them here), but his presence is so sporadic for so long and then suddenly, he becomes crucial to the plot of the story. There needed to be more of him in the beginning.

The reason I mentioned that I didn’t expect much is because the first 40-50 pages for me were an awful bumpy ride. I found Stiefvater’s writing style in the beginning to be very choppy and almost forceful. I couldn’t get into the flow of the story and that was quite a struggle for me. You can tell that she hit her stride though a few chapters in as the story evens out and begins to unfold in a much more natural fashion. There are still a few hiccups along the way. Every so often, I’d read a sentence that was jarring in its irregularity and that ground my reading to a halt for a moment, but these sections were few and far between as the story progressed.

This book is clearly constructed as the start of a series. Stiefvater is thoughtful in her placement of plot elements and of her characters. She’s paced herself and although this book is packed completely full of characters and story, there is so much that she’s held back, which I’m sure will be revealed as the series continued. Overall, a really good read. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s definitely an enjoyable and mystical tale.

Review: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

The EnchantedTitle: The Enchanted

Author: Rene Denfeld

Published by: HarperCollins

Published: 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232333-0

The Enchanted: A Novel

Summary from Goodreads:

The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners’ pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

Beautiful and transcendent, The Enchanted reminds us of how our humanity connects us all, and how beauty and love exist even amidst the most nightmarish reality.

What I liked:  

Rene Denfeld is not just an author. She’s an artist. Her debut novel,¬†The Enchanted,¬†is a beautiful and haunting observation of life, death, and survival, and what place is better to observe this than a forgotten prison full of lost souls. Taking us into a correctional facility, Denfeld describes the hopelessness and cruelty of prison in the beautiful, silent observations of death row inmate, Arden, whose crimes are awful beyond description. Arden is a dreamer, and perhaps quite insane. He lives within the pages of books and, although has committed awful crimes, is ¬†very humane. He is probably the most perceptive character in the book and is able to read the other characters and his surroundings like no one else. This wonderful ability is contrasted with his desperate and unbearably sad situation in a way that is both stunning to read and extremely moving.

One of the things that I love about this novel is that Denfeld gives names to the prisoners, but reduces the prison employees–the warden, the priest, the guard, and most importantly, the lady– to basic nouns, removing their names and their identities. Denfeld reverses the general convention where inmates are thought of as faceless numbers and it is the people on the “outside” who become faceless. I think she does this in part, at least, to demonstrate that we all struggle with morality, we all face trials, and we are all prisoners to death. The lady is one who is a foil to death row inmate, York. They both face extraordinarily similar upbringings, childhoods wracked by abuse and misfortune. The lady is easily interchangeable with York apart from the fact that she made the choice to turn her situation around and make something of herself instead of choosing violence. The Enchanted is a story of how humans deal with the situations they face and the consequences and the shame that accompany our actions.

What I would have liked to see:

There is one character whose story was so touching and tragic: the white haired boy. He is a prime example of a victim of corruption, greed, and abuse. He is a target and a scapegoat and it is in his story that we see the most violent inner workings of the prison life. I would have liked to get to know him better. We observe him through a 3rd person narrator, but we don’t really get to understand him as we do Arden and the lady.

The same goes for the warden. The warden faces death up close in both his work life and his personal life. He is a compassionate and lonely character who I would have enjoyed getting to know better. But the story wasn’t about him and I liked that his story, although also very sad, was secondary to the struggle of the lady and the hope of Arden.

Overall, this book was a wonderful read. It’s short and compact, but vast in its descriptions and observations. I give is 4.5 stars out of 5. I loved it and I’ve already got it set aside to be reread. I don’t think it’s a novel that can be fully digested in one single read. It’s one for a reread and then another reread and perhaps many more after that.

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

12812550Title: Days of Blood and Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company a division of Hachette Book Group

Published: 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-13397-5

 

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is‚ÄĒand¬†what¬†she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed¬†Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices,¬†Days of Blood & Starlight¬†finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

What I liked:

I’ve mentioned before that this novel’s tone is completely different from¬†Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s dark and it’s unforgiving. It deals with subject matter in a way that is not often seen in such detail in Y.A. novels. The subjects are tremendously moving in their horror and their sadness because it is all to easy to imagine these horrible realities. Taylor does not try to gloss over war or to romanticize it in any way. She portrays war the way it really is: dirty, violent, and often cruel. Taylor’s words have a sense of truth to them, not in the fictional content of course, but in the trials the character face on a daily bases: love, betrayal, anger, fear, etc. Their emotions are experienced and dealt with in a very realistic way. I think that’s, in part, why I really connected with this book.

Continuing on this vein of truthfulness, I really enjoyed the fact that actions have consequences and Taylor follows through with these consequences. In her story, if one character hurts another, that pain is not forgotten at the bat of an eye. Characters struggle to comprehend the actions of those around them, to deal with the pain, not knowing if it’s possible to move past it. They struggle to forgive and forget, if forgiveness is even possible. Harsh actions are not let go of with a kiss or a hug. Not everything is heroic and often character are forced to do things that go against their moral code. Often it’s not only a question of can they forgive those around them, it’s a question of can they forgive themselves.

This novel is also full of deception, which I loved! I’ve been joking that Taylor should have renamed the story “High-Stakes Deception.” In this terrible world, each character is trying to survive and to find a shred of happiness or peace somewhere. No one quite knows who is friend or who is enemy, and in a war that’s lasted for centuries, I believe that deception and lies come with the territory.

What I didn’t like:

Zuzana, in this novel, wasn’t as believable as I’d have liked. She really just goes with the flow as she learns about a supernatural world, taking everything is stride and participating in the fantastical world of Karou’s existence. She provides a lot of comic relief, but often times, she is so willing to accept Karou’s world, that I doubted her sincerity as a character. It was a little hard to accept her reactions and her participation in Karou’s complication and unusual situation.

Overall, this book was great. It caught me off guard with it’s tone and its subject matter. I never knew what to expect, where the story was going or how things were going to turn out in the end. Taylor is a master with words. She reveals exactly what’s important when she deems it to be important and you, as the reader, don’t even see it coming and it sweeps you right off your feet. I’m looking forward to picking up my copy of¬†Dreams of Gods and Monsters.¬†

 

Worn Pages and Ink nominated for a Liebster Award!

Thanks to Karen at One More Page… for the nomination for a Liebster Award. Karen and I met through Twitter and our love of books. This is a great way for me to start off my day!

Karen has given me 11 questions to answer so you guys can get to know me a bit better. So, here are my answers:

liebster2

1. How long have you been blogging? What made you want to start book blogging?

I’ve been blogging for six months now. I’ve tried and failed to start a blog in years past and the reason those attempts failed was because I wasn’t talking about something that I was truly passionate about. I began my blog in my final year at school in a post-graduate program for book publishing. My previous four years of university had taken away the enjoyment of reading. Before I started the blog it’d been ages since I’d really read anything for pleasure. Being immersed in books and book culture in the program inspired me to begin reading for fun. The blog became a way for me to hold myself accountable not only to read the books I wanted, but to write about them and share my thoughts and my opinions with other book bloggers. Writing this blog has sparked a fire in me to read more and more and more!

2. Have you always been a reader or was reading a hobby that developed as you grew up?

I’ve always been a voracious reader. There’s a story floating around my family that when I was just 6, a friend of the family was absolutely shocked one day when she came over to find me reading a novel well beyond what should be my reading level. I’m that kid that went to the library and took out the maximum number of book to read each week and when I ran out of things to read, I would write. It’s always been a passion for me.


3. Do you have any books that you attribute your love of reading to? Are there any titles that were really influential to you?

Definitely when I was younger, the Thoroughbred series and The Babysitters Club series were hugely influential on me and my love of reading. I loved that the series continued on and on. It was something to wait for and to look forward to buying or borrowing the newest book. Because both series are so vast in number, they definitely covered a large number of years in my childhood.


4. What is your favourite part about having a book blog?

The people I’m meeting, no doubt. As an obsessed book lover, all of my closest friends over the years have been enthusiastic readers and book lovers as well. But book blogging has introduced me to a world of book lovers that before, I only used to dream about. It’s wonderful talking to people about the stories we’re reading, going to events were we meet the authors, and just getting to know other people who share the same love. It’s not a love that can be understood by everyone.


5. Do you have a specific way that you organize your bookshelves? If so, what made you choose that system?

Alphabetical, always. I’ve thought about rearranging things according to colour. Have you seen those pictures of rainbow bookshelves floating around on Pinterest? But I’ve decided that I love alphabetical. It makes everything easy to find. But right now, at this transitional time in my life, many of my books, sadly, are imprisoned in boxes, awaiting the day when I finally have a permanent residence where they can be freed and happy on their new shelves. That day will hopefully come to pass soon.


6. What is one thing about you that most of your readers don’t know?

I’m terrible at telling jokes. I’m not usually the funny one in a group, but I love to laugh. I love books that make me laugh.


7. Do you annotate your books or do you like to keep them clean and pristine?

Until university, I’d been a bit of a freak about keeping my books in pristine condition. I didn’t write in them, dog-ear them, highlight them, or even crack the spine. Four years of university as an English Lit major changes things a bit. My university novels and anthologies are, of course, marked up to the point of no return and I love them even more. I’ve come to adore that personal touch hidden like secrets in the pages of books. I’ve switched to buying used books for this fact, because I love to see other peoples thoughts on the stories. I generally stick to dog-earring pages with my favourite passages or underlining in pencil.


8. Does a book’s cover influence whether you pick up the book or not? Have you read any books despite not liking its cover and been surprised by how much you liked the contents?

Most definitely. An intriguing cover draws me right away. It sets the book’s tone from the get go. It’s a crucial element in determining if I even consider picking up a book. I know that I probably should be more open, but I know the types and tones of books that I like, so I seek that out in a cover because the chances that I’ll enjoy the book are much greater if I’m drawn to the cover.


9. Where is your favourite place to read?

I don’t think I can pin it down to one particular place. I read wherever and whenever, as long as I’m reading. If I had to pick one place, I guess I’d say in my room. I have this cozy red chair with a blanket that my grandmother knit me hanging on the back. It sits in a big bay window from which I can see over the tops of the houses, across the city, to the lake. The house faces the south so the sun shines in creating a pillow of warmth where my chair sits, perfectly angled into the light.


10. What upcoming 2014 book are you most excited to read?

All of them! Ha, ha, I don’t know. I’m really open to reading whatever I learn about and whatever comes across my path. I don’t pick out particular books generally. I’ve been reading the¬†Daughter of Smoke and Bone¬†series by Laini Taylor so at the moment, I’m dying to go pick up a copy of¬†Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I’m also going to start¬†The Enchanted¬†by Rene Denfield this weekend.


11. What book do you wish everyone would read?

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book for me, was one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. Still to this day (I read this years ago) it strikes me to the core. I found it an honest and raw portrayal of death, loss, and grief that resonates with me on so many levels. It’s full of beautiful prose and stunning imagery.

 

Thank you again Karen for the nomination! I hope you all enjoy reading my answers as much as I enjoyed writing them! I am going to nominate Christa from More Than Just Magic and Angel from Mermaid Vision Books to win the Liebster Award!

 

Here are my questions:

My questions:
1. How long have you been blogging? What made you want to start book blogging?
2. Have you always been a reader or was reading a hobby that developed as you grew up?
3. Do you have a least favourite book? Why or why not?
4. What is your favourite part about having a book blog?
5. Do you have a specific way that you organize your bookshelves? If so, what made you choose that system?
6. What is one fun fact that you want your followers to know?
7. Do you annotate your books or do you like to keep them clean and pristine?
8. Does a book’s cover influence whether you pick up the book or not? Have you read any books despite not liking its cover and been surprised by how much you liked the contents?
9. Where is your favourite place to read?
10. What upcoming 2014 book are you most excited to read?
11. What advice would you give to aspiring book bloggers?

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a really fun one and of course, as always, I have too many things to fit into a list of just 10. The topic is:¬†Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books) That I’d Like To Own.

1. My dream library. Like any bookworm (and book collector) I fantasize about how I’d like to store and display my abundant volumes. This will be the first thing I go for once I’m a home owner. I’d like, not only to have the shelves custom built, I’d like to continue to collect various unique copies of¬†The Great Gatsby to highlight within my library.

2. I’d love to get a bookish phone case. I already have a custom book cover for my tablet (a repurposed book from a company called ReAuthored which you can check out here.¬†I’ve seen lots of cute cases with bookshelves on the back, with cover artwork, and even with Scrabble tiles. I’m always on the lookout.

3. Have you see those Shakespearean insult mugs? Yeah. One of those would be really cool to have. I seem to have inadvertently started collecting mugs and I think Shakespearean insults are hilarious, so this would be the perfect thing to enjoy my morning coffee out of.

4. I love the Penguin book cover tote bags. What’s better for a booknerd that a tote with your favourite title displayed on the side. Penguin has such classic covers, it’d be the perfect thing to carry my own books around in.

5. Literary t-shirt. It’s always great finding a unique t-shirt to dress up with a skirt or to wear with skinnies, but a literary t-shirt would be awesome. I’ve seen some cool Gatsby book cover t-shirts that are really cool, but most book cover shirts that I’ve seen would be a nice addition to the wardrobe.

6. As decor for my home, I think I’d like to get those invisible book shelves that make your books look like they’re floating on the wall. I wouldn’t want to display all my books this way, but it’d be a really unique way to show off your favourite books.

7. A piece of book art. Now I know that this one is, technically a book, but I’ve seen some really cool repurposed books turned into pieces of art, whether paper cutting or sculpture. I think it would be a nice addition to the library or a great conversation piece to display in the living room.

8. A cozy reading chair is something that any book fanatic needs. I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect chair. It needs to have a tall back, be deep but not too deep, be well padded, and it must have a bold pattern on it. The perfect reading chair needs to make a statement. It needs to proclaim to the world that it is the best spot in the world.

9. A bookish piece of jewelry, perhaps a necklace or a bracelet. There are some really cute literary inspired pieces out there like a hobbit door or the deathly hallows. I’d like to find something that’s a little bit different, but is still recognizable as being literature-inspired.

10. A literary board game is great way to spend an afternoon with my book-loving friends. I’ve seen¬†Pride and Prejudice inspired games and I’m sure there are plenty others inspired by the many, many books in existence. I love when friends and family get away from technology for a bit to have a little fun with a tradition board game, and it’d be cute to add that literary twist.

Thoughts on Days of Blood and Starlight

I’m about 200 pages into¬†Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight¬†and I thought I’d post my feelings about the book thus far.

Making my way through this 500+ page novel,¬†I’m struck by her talent as a captivating¬†storyteller. This book presents a huge contrast from¬†Daughter of Smoke and Bone in both tone and plot. Whereas book one was light hearted with sinister undertones, book two is devastating in the destruction of centuries-old war.

At this point in the story, I feel burdened (as I’m sure many of the characters do) by the bleak outlook that the plot presents. All that seems to hover on the horizon is more death, each battle more violent and malicious than the last.

What I’m really enjoying so far is Taylor’s accurate portrayal of cutthroat war and desolation. The acts of torture and vengeance that are committed, too terrible to mention (with worse to come, I’m sure), reveal the truth of two desperate races with no ability to perceive or achieve peace.

I’m hoping that this tale will have an ending at least a bit happier than it’s rising action. We’ll see what is to come.