Audio Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

One of my favorite series I’ve read in the last few years is the Raven Boys Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. The most recent of these is Blue Lily, Lily Blue. When it finally finally was available to read I knew that I wouldn’t get it from my library for several months, so I used a credit on Audible and got to read it a whole lot quicker. I’ve read some of Stiefvater’s books via eaudible versions and I really liked her Shiver Trilogy that way. While I really enjoyed the continuing adventures of the Raven Boys and Blue, since I read the first two books in hardcover I had the voices of the characters already set in my head and so the voices that the narrator, Will Patton, used were not my own and that threw me. I reconciled most of them except for his version of Blue which was really different than my own.

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Summary from Amazon:

The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, number one New York Times best-selling author Maggie Stiefvater.

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 really enjoy the otherness of and strange mystical adventures in The Raven Cycle Series. Interestingly, while each book has sections from the perspective of all of the characters, I felt that The Raven Boys had a slight focus on Gansey, The Dream Thieves centered around Ronan’s abilities, and in Blue Lily, Lily Blue the core of the story revolved around Blue and her interactions with The Raven Boys as she falls madly in love with all of them. After being accused of being crazy for being in love with them all.

Orla wasn’t wrong, of course. But what she didn’t realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.

What makes this book stand out from other Young Adult fiction is this all encompassing love for each other that the characters feel and live even as their lives are turned around and around with the mythical search Gansey is determined to solve and conquer and understand. Since they want that for him, that want it for themselves as well, and the unit stands firm against grey men and assassination attempts.

I also always enjoy the narrative based on the town of Henrietta, I can picture it perfectly because I can see the bits and pieces from the author’s home town, where I coincidentally also grew up, emerge on the scene and it is just a delight. For me, it gives the series a grounding that I haven’t felt in any other series, not even the ones about Chicago (which aren’t always accurate). But by making up a town while using parts from a real one, Stiefvater gives solid footing to an otherwise otherworldly story.

My favorite quote from the book, because it at once reminded me of where I grew up, made me laugh at its accuracy, and sad all at once for its truth was:

Blue had discovered that there were two distinct stereotypes for the rural population of her part of Virginia: the neighbors who loaned one another cups of sugar and knew everything about everyone, and the rednecks who stood on their porches with shotguns and shouted racist things when they got drunk. Because she grew up so thoroughly entrenched in the first group, she hadn’t believed in the second group until well into her teens. School had taught her that the two kinds were almost never born into the same litter.

The third installment of The Raven Boys Cycle continues to intrigue and mystify. While Stiefvater weaves a tale that is its own throughout the book, more mysteries are created than solved and pathways are taken that I never expected. I love this series for its characters, its setting, and its mythology. The interwoven roads are leading somewhere spectacular and I can’t wait to discover what the journey brings.

Some day I’m going to turn to some self righteous prick trying to talk above me and say, “Don’t you Richard Gansey the Third me.” And they will have no idea what I’m say, but I’ll just laugh to myself and enjoy my little inside joke.

Check out some really good fan art by shardsofmyheart on DeviantArt.

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyers

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Summary from Goodreads:

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

What I enjoy about Meyers characters is that they are all interesting and quite different. The three girls have very distinct personalities, and Cress is no exception. I also enjoyed the fact that Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress have learned skill sets throughout the years and they are smart and know how to use those skill sets while trying to save the world. They make for very strong female role models in that respect. However, their ability to handle romance is altogether lacking. I guess though, that is why these would be considered young adult reading.

Because she has been sheltered all of her life from the outside world, Cress is not able to handle her infatuation with Thorne, who is a complete jerk to her nearly all of the time. It was a little frustrating, even though I understand that because of her limited access to the outside world she would not be able to handle a sudden immersion in that outside world. Unlike Rapunzel of Tangled, she has a hard time using her learned skill set and her brains when confronted with the unknown. Arguably, by the end of the book she has learned some lessons, and therefore, she remains an interesting and dimensional character. Just one I would like to take by the shoulders and shake.

My irritation with Cress’ inability to deal with Thorne aside, the series itself is one of my favorites. The story arc for each book quite wonderfully feeds into the overall story arc of the series and when I came to the end of Cress I was again dismayed I didn’t have the next book in my hands already. Meyers weaves a wonderful retelling of stories that we already know, and she does it in such a way that they are new and exciting and original and all their own. Her female characters are heroines in the true sense, they save themselves, they use their learned skill sets to make the world a better place, and their male companions do not take over as so often happens in female protagonist books.

If you like fairy tale retellings and original characters full of surprises check out the Lunar Chronicle series by Marissa Meyers.

Coffee Shops, a Book Store, and Exploring the City.

I met up with my sister this week and we decided to do a bit of exploring near my new home. We found a cool coffee shop where my sister did some studying and and I some reading.

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Then we walked across the street to check out a really fun bookstore. It had two floors. On the top floor was an area where you can sit down and do a community puzzle.

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Or you can sit up there while reading, drinking coffee, or people watching the downstairs. And there are half a dozen comfy couches and chairs to choose from.

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The place was filled with hundreds of books, movies, and records. I ended up getting a couple, of course.  I really want to go back and check out all the little nooks and crannies, and books.

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Throwback Thursday: Senior Photos (of High School, I Think)

Well, it’s throwback Thursday and I found some photos us girls took a while ago to commemorate graduating from high school. I think. Honestly, it’s hard for me to tell how old we are, because in my mind we always look like that. Except for the bad hair days, those just don’t exist in my memory. These photos always make me laugh because I remember the day quite vividly and we had so much fun and then they turned out like album covers to a band we never had. Oh man, we thought we were being so cool with our Charlie Angel’s poses.

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My sister took most of the photos, she did a great job. Though she really could have used a production assistant. Not the best director.

“Jami, you look uncomfortable.” Was her note to me.

This after I had climbed over and among the rocks, lying down on them in the creek bed trying to get the pose she wanted. I said through gritted teeth, “That’s because I am uncomfortable.”

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Mockingjay Part 1 is the continuing story of Katniss Everdeen based on the popular young adult novels by Suzanne Collins. Katniss Everdeen is played by Jennifer Lawrence and also stars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, her two romantic interests, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks, as Katniss’ mentors, and Julianne Moore and Donald Sutherland, as two opposing politician types.

mockingjaySummary from Wikipedia

The story continues to follow Katniss Everdeen; having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion, a mockingjay, against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

I give Jennifer Lawrence all due credit for this being an excellent film. Also, the writers, they deserve a huge round of applause. I found the story engaging and the characters believable. This was not the case for the book Mockingjay. I thought the book was the poorest installment in the series and only finished it because I wanted to know what the writer thought happened, but it was not what I expected from a book that followed the Hunger Games.

With Jennifer Lawrence as their paintbrush, the writers paint a picture of a bewildered young woman trying to take care of the people she love, trying to rise to the occasion, and trying to handle all the of the responsibilities that have been thrust upon her while remaining true to who she is as a person. Katniss is a great heroine, because she isn’t perfect, she has her faults, but she tries, she grows, and she succeeds. That is amazing, and Lawrence took the character by the throat and pushed her to new levels as a role model. (Can you tell, I have a small crush on Jennifer Lawrence?)

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I really wish there had been more of Peeta in this first part, that was the only thing I was disappointed about. I wish there had been less Gale. Such a whiny character who busy so readily into the dogma of a military regime. Ugh. I didn’t like him in the books and I still don’t like him in the movie rendition of the story. But Peeta, I rooted for him in the books, and I love him in the movie version. So, I wish there had been a bit more about him.

Another brilliant piece of casting was Elizabeth Banks as Effie. She added warmth, spirit, and depth to a character that had very little of those qualities. Plus, she pulled off some amazingly outrageous costumes. I love how Banks is able to take on and slip into a role instead of turning the role into a version of herself. So, maybe I have a little girl crush on her as well.

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Effie by Pseudolirium on DeviantArt

While I am still a little sore that they decided to take a rather unremarkable book and elongate it into two movies (for the sake of extra coins in the pocket I can only assume), but I ended up quite enjoying the film, more than I thought I would. And I swear it had nothing to do with the several cocktails I consumed. Ok, maybe a little. The movie was well paced, well written, and excellently acted. My only other complaint is that the ending was a little rushed, and my sister turned away from the screen for a few minutes to pay her bill and missed a crucial piece that just kind of flew by at the end. However, I’m looking forward to part 2 and then a Hunger Games marathon some time in the future when I can sit down and watch all four movies and revel in my girl crushes.

 

eBook Review: Witch Hunt

Occasionally I like to browse the Kindle store and download a free book to try out a new author or series. So far I have about a 50/50 success rate with these free books. One of my surprisingly good finds was Witch Hunt by S.M. Reine, the first book in her Preternatural Affairs series.

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Goodreads Summary:

A brutal murder.

There are scratches on Cèsar Hawke’s arms, a discharged Glock on his coffee table, and a dead woman in his bathtub. Yeah, maybe he brought the waitress home for some fun — he was too drunk to remember it — but he knows for a fact that he didn’t kill her. He’s an agent with the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He doesn’t hurt people. He saves them.

The cops disagree. Now Cèsar is running.

The search for a shaman.

Isobel Stonecrow speaks with the dead…for the right price. She brings closure to the bereaved and heals broken hearts. But when she resurrects someone for the wrong client, she ends up on the OPA’s most wanted list.

One risky solution.

Tracking down Isobel is the last case assigned to Cèsar before he bolts. If he finds her, he can prove that he didn’t kill that waitress. He can clear his name, get his job back, and bring justice to the victim.

She’s just one witch. Cèsar has bagged a dozen witches before.

How hard can one more be?

I liked this book so much that when I was finished with it, I bought the second ebook in the series and started reading it immediately. The male protagonist is a witch and works for a secret government order that hunts down witches who misuse their powers. Basically he’s a witch cop hunting down white collar criminals when he is accused of a murder he doesn’t think he committed. With no one coming to rescue him, he must take his detective skills and solve his first murder in order to clear his name.

Witch Hunt reminded me of the Dresden series without being a copycat. Cèsar is a good male lead. Cèsar may be a little clueless as he discovers areas of his universe he never knew about before, but as he learns new information the reader experiences a fun peek into a well thought out universe. While a rather grisly tale of murder, demons, and bad witches, the story has more than a few bright spots of humor and tongue in cheek wit that keeps the tone light and urban fantasy rather than horror. Plus, Cèsar has an affection for the cancelled television show Firefly, how can you not love him?

The murder mystery solving is fast paced and adventure packed. I was never bored, in fact I finished the book in one day. Reine’s writing is good and she knows how to keep pace while giving enough exposition to engage the reader in the universe. If you like the Dresden Files series and urban fantasy in general check out this paranormal mystery series, a fun, engaging read.

Nodds & Nends: BookBub, KissCam, and Street Lights Dancing

Here are some nerdy odds and ends I’ve found the internets here of late.

My mother sent me a link to this website that will send you info on free or cheap ebooks from the genres that you like. I’ve downloaded one book so far, and … well, it’s a weird premise for a book. But anyway. The concept behind this website is really cool. So check out BookBub if you are interested in getting info on free ebooks.

This video popped up on the internets. I don’t know if it is so nerdy, as much as, well, funny. Also, it is a reminder that when you are with a person hanging out, try to stay off your phone and actually spend time with the person you are with. Or a giant red bull will cart away your lover and she will happily go.

Check out this hot/cold Tetris coffee mug. I hate Tetris with a passion. Hate it. But the mug is cool.

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Remember my post about the guy who can make hoops dance? Well @LindzeePoi sent me a link to his latest video, Street Lights. His work is mesmerizing and always makes me smile. I find it amazing how the lights seem to be separate entities from him, chasing each other around his body, just wonderful work. Plus the music is by Lindsey Sterling, I love her!

I know how I always talk about Chris being a viking, well I decided to give it a try too. I think I managed fairly well. (I discovered its about angles and not showing my very short legs.)

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