Make Way For the Raven King

17378508

Title/Author: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date/Publisher: October 21, 2014/Scholastic Press
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Rating: 5 stars

From Goodreads:

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.

picadillypink

This series is killing me. Not just the wait and the anticipation and the not knowing – but all of these things plus my Ronan feelings – and I’m basically dead.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue starts a month after the events of The Dream Thieves. I thought this was fine, because while I want to see every minute of every character’s day, I understand why it’s not really possible. The gap in time did kind of set up for the other weird jumps in the story, and those I had more of an issue with: Adam is at [the place] waiting for his [thing] to start, and Gansey and Ronan rush in and Gansey [noise] to the [person] and then the scene is over. I WANTED TO KNOW THE OUTCOME.

I loved the new character perspectives. Greenmantle is not a scary crime boss, he’s hilarious. His wife, Piper, is also hilarious and I actually liked them whenever they came up on their own together. When they’re with the Gray Man or the Raven Boys or the women of 300 Fox Way I can remember they’re the bad guys, but when they weren’t, I thought they were a lot of fun.

Jesse Dittley was also terrific – the Dittleys have guarded the cursed cave forever, slowly dying off as they’ve had to sacrifice themselves to it. The things that have happened to him and his family could have made him a very hard and angry person, so I extra loved his easy friendship with Blue.

“I don’t want to make a bigger cage. I want to open the door.”

 

There are caves and adventures and death and SO MANY THINGS happening. Blue Lily, Lily Blue does not have the singular focus of The Dream Thieves (Ronan), instead painting a broader picture of all the characters. Gansey seems withdrawn – but it might just be that we spend less time with him, Adam is waking up (either to or from what appears to be an existential crisis), Ronan seems like less of a shit, though he assures us it’s not true. Even Noah seems to be evolving through death. The Raven Boys are becoming Raven Men.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue does focus a bit more on Blue this time around, since it’s her mother underground, needing to be found. She learns a lot more about herself and her abilities, and WOW she is hit with so much in this book. I thought, based on the title, this would be her book, and it is in a way.

I just can’t believe how close we are to the end, when it seems like there is still so far to go and one more book is not enough time with these characters and this world. I feel like I’m mourning the end of the series already, when I still have a year to wait for it!

“I hear if you want magic done,” he said, “you ask a magician.”

 

And I can’t wait to read Maggie’s re-cap of Blue Lily, Lily Blue on The Recaptains next year. They’re every bit as good and entertaining as the books.
hallowreads

 

ARC Review: Rowdy

20530956

Title/Author: Rowdy by Jay Crownover
Publication Date/Publisher: October 23, 2014/William Morrow Paperbacks
Series: Yes, Marked Men #5
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: 2 stars
From Goodreads:

After the only girl he ever loved told him that he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and set out to live up to his nickname. A good ol’ boy looking for good times and good friends, Rowdy refuses to take anything too seriously, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Burned by love once, he isn’t going to let himself trust a woman again. But that’s before his new co-worker arrives, a ghost from the past who’s suddenly making him question every lesson he ever learned.

Salem Cruz grew up in house with too many rules and too little fun—a world of unhappiness she couldn’t wait to forget. But one nice thing from childhood has stayed with her; the memory of the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who’d been head over heels in love with her little sister.

Now, fate and an old friend have brought her and Rowdy together, and Salem is determined to show him that once upon a time he picked the wrong sister. A mission that is working perfectly—until the one person that ties them together appears, threatening to tear them apart for good.

picadillypink
I think I’m done with the Marked Men series. Since each book needs to top the previous ones drama-wise, the series has reached the point where there is TOO MUCH going on and I am not interested in reading about drama for drama’s sake.


I’ve realized what my issue with the covers is: there is so much emphasis on the guy’s tattoos and the cover models do not have those tattoos. They have maybe the same general look, but literally the only thing that sets these 5 guys apart from each other is their tattoos.


When people spend a lot of time together, they become very similar. There are tiny other differences, but it’s the personal style and tattoos that actually set them apart. They all have the exact same voice, and 5 books is enough of that for me.


Rowdy is kind of a greaser…but also a cowboy. I did a google image search for greaser cowboy and the results are confusing and hilarious. He’s got the pompadour hairdo…but wears cowboy boots and sometimes a cowboy hat in DENVER lest we ever forget for one second that he and Salem are from Texas. Salem has the rockabilly/pin-up girl look, so we know they’re obviously meant to be. She has basically the exact same personality as Cora, and of course everyone just loves her right away.


My favorite part of Rowdy was seeing what all the characters I already know are up to. I wish the series had continued with characters that are marked in other ways and not just guys in the shop – Jet has tattoos but he’s a friend of the shop and Rome is marked with his scar instead of ink.


Part of it may be that this series is actually being moved to the backburner. Crownover is also writing her Welcome to the Point series, which is a little darker and may explain some events that may have bled over into Rowdy. On top of that other series, Marked Men is getting a spin-off series with at least 5 books which seem to be about the guys at the new tattoo shop: Saints of Denver. That shop is one of the main locations in Rowdy, yet we never even learn any of the new artist’s names.

DNF Review: The Fall

18241263

Title/Author: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Publication Date/Publisher: October 7, 2014/Greenwillow Books
Series: No
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: DNF @ 41%
From Goodreads:
Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

picadillypink
The Fall should have been a perfect Hallow-read, but I never felt any kind of terror or a shiver of thrill up my spine while reading almost the first half of the book.

The Fall opens with Madeline waking up in a coffin. And then flashes back to her as a child. Then back to “present day” Madeline and back and forth, jumping around in years that made it very difficult for me to remember the order things were happening. I don’t often look at chapter headings, especially when Chapter XX is included, so it’s partially my own fault, but I also feel like nothing was really happening?

Madeline can’t leave the house. Her twin brother got to go away to school because the house didn’t choose him. There is a family curse that results in…something? The doctors that live in the house call them fits, but I’m not familiar with The Fall of the House of Usher to be able to know what’s really going on. I read the spoilery plot on wikipedia and I can see the parallels and how the story might have been going in that direction, but eh.

SORT OF SPOILERY THINGS BELOW SO MAYBE DON’T READ PAST
THE HALLOW-READS GRAPHIC IF YOU’RE NOT INTO THAT
hallowreads

Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Places Books Make Me Want to Go

toptentuespbh

This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit – Fictional or Real. Let’s start this one off right:

  1. HOGWARTS HOGWARTS HOGGY WOGGY HOGWARTS – from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  2. Australia – I would probably not last long in Australia, but so many of my favorite books come from there that I should probably just go (and be killed by heat, birds, and spiders) – from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
  3. Prague, based solely on The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series because I had no inclination to go there before reading that series
  4. OASIS – I tried to play Second Life and I never felt the desire to murder my Sims and I do often think that the world is awful enough that we should just move into a virtual world so…. – from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  5. London Below – I haven’t even been to London Above, but I feel my priorities are straight – from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  6. North Star, Texas is a definite must for food and Friday Night Lights reenacting – from Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
  7. The Shire – I need to be the tallest person around for once in my life and hobbit holes are super cute, so it’s pretty much the perfect place for me – from The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  8. 300 Fox Way – I almost went with Monmouth Manufacturing (and I alllllmost went with Thisby), but I could probably move into 300 Fox Way and it would be a while before anyone noticed – from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
  9. Fairyland, because why not go to the most magical place of all – from The Fairyland series by Catherynne M Valente

The Past is a Ghost

13579626

Title/Author: Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Publication Date/Publisher: September 23, 2014/Harper Collins
Series: No
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Rating: 3 stars

From Goodreads:

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

picadillypink

I saved Rooms for part of my Hallow-reads series because it’s about ghosts, but there is not one spooky thing about it.

 

Rooms has a lot of characters, each with a lot going on. I didn’t have a problem remembering who was who or who had what going on in their life…it’s just a lot. Especially when some of the narrators are no longer living.

 

Multiple generations of ghosts living in one house! And they don’t like each other! Or the living family who is imposing on them after the Walker patriarch’s passing. One of the ghosts, Alice, seems to be the original owner of the Walker house. The other ghost, Sandra, lived there after Alice…well, during Alice. Then Sandra also died and now they’re stuck together.

 

If I was a ghost, I would be haunting the crap out of some fools, not just complaining about them to my ghost frenemies. Aside from that, I loved how connected everything was, and they way the story was told: room by room throughout the big house.

 

sumcomp
We’ve got The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I’d say that those are all accurate if what you’re looking for is a non-frightening adult ghost story.
hallowreads

ARC Review: The Fine Are of Pretending

17696131

Title/Author: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
Publication Date/Publisher: September 30, 2014/Spencer Hill Contemporary
Series: The Fine Art of Pretending #1
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Rating: 2 stars

From Goodreads:

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

picadillypink

Sometimes you just need a fluffy book to read in the tub. The Fine Art of Pretending was that book for me.

Predictable from page 1, The Fine Art of Pretending starts out okay-ish, gets a little better, and then takes a nosedive. My favorite trope is THE FAKE COUPLE and while Aly and Brandon are fake-together, everything is fine. I might have gone 4 stars….until they fake-breakup and spend 30% of the book whining about how much they love each other but can’t be together for whatever reasons and of course never tell the other one how they feel.

Then there is the message that “boys will only notice you if you wear revealing clothes and a lot of makeup and basically change your whole outward appearance and personality”. The book opens in a Forever 21 dressing room full of bandage dresses and mini-est skirts and a bangin’ bod that Aly keeps covered in baggy clothes. Aly THE VOLLEYBALL PLAYER is somehow able to keep her body a secret from the entire school?! Did the author not Google Image search “high school volleyball” like I did?

Brandon, for his part, is not much better. His role as Aly’s best friend/fake-love interest/and protector is annoying. He steps in to save her from everything, when he’s not pushing her to do things she might not really want to do (sing in public, not like, sexy stuff). They ARE southern though, which I didn’t realize until everyone starts saying “ya’ll” towards the end of the book.

I will probably not be continuing this series. I have a guess who the next book will be about (Gabi and Carlos?), and while I will probably like Gabi more than I liked Aly, I just can’t imagine the next book will be that much different than The Fine Art of Pretending.

Fear Cuts Deeper Than Swords

20419044

Title/Author: Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
Publication Date/Publisher: September 23, 2014/Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Messenger of Fear #1
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Rating: 2 stars

From Goodreads:

I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out…

picadillypink

So far, I’m 0 for 0 in most anticipated titles in the back half of 2014. Everything has been a DNF or 2 stars…BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE COME FIX THIS.

Messenger of Fear takes a very interesting concept, and completely bungles it. It sounds like the book is going to be about The Messenger doling out punishment via games and seeing characters have to live out their greatest fear. Instead, Messenger of Fear is about Mara becoming the new Messenger, and her apprenticeship to the position.

There is some decent gore – a girl is chopped into puzzle pieces and her boyfriend has 1 minute to put her back together – but we only see two games and two instances of punishment, which makes the synopsis quite deceiving. I read this as part of my new Hallow-Reads feature for the month of October, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the lack of gross stuff going on.

Messenger of Fear ends in a strange place. It’s not a cliffhanger really, but there is a lot of vague set-up for the mythology of The Messenger and his world and no answers. Who are these other supernatural beings that keep showing up? Who is Ariadne? (Oh wait, I just googled Ariadne so I guess I know what her deal is going to be – I thought Michael Grant was just really into Inception).

tumblr_md1cngldzP1qdlh1io1_500
Luckily, Messenger of Fear is a very fast read. I read the whole thing (minus the last chapter) in bed, so it couldn’t have taken even 2 hours. I’m still very interested in what this story could have been, but I don’t think it’s enough to continue the series.
hallowreads

ARC Review: Dad is Fat

16141924

Title/Author: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Publication Date/Publisher: April 22, 2014/Three Rivers Press
Series: No
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Blogging for Books and Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: 3 stars
From Goodreads:
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald’s, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins (“celebrities for little kids”) to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.
picadillypink
This isn’t the type of book I normally review, but I was eager to try out Blogging for Books, and this is the only title that really grabbed me at the time.

It’s not important to be familiar with Jim Gaffigan’s comedy to enjoy this book (though I am). Dad is Fat is about raising his five children in a two bedroom apartment in New York and just having kids in general. Personally, I do not really want or enjoy children, so this was more cautionary tale for me than anything. But it’s like I was reading it for tips or anything.

The biggest detraction in Dad is Fat, for me, is the…I’m not sure how to say this. There aren’t religious undertones and Catholicism isn’t being PUSHED on anyone here, but there’s only so many times I care to hear about how you have 5 kids because you’re Catholic (zero times is the amount of times), or about any kind of religion at all, ever. But that’s just me.

DNF: Volume Four

It’s been a few months since my last DNF Roundup, and a lot of the books I’ve DNFed since then….well. I couldn’t even get through enough of them to write a mini DNF review, or I read enough to warrant a full review. Here are the reviews that are left:

Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan: Why does this family let their 16 year old daughter carry so much influence over everything they do? Because she has a genius level IQ? That doesn’t make her life-smart. Josie is overly quirky, and just all around awful. She’s not emotionally mature enough to just let her sister marry whoever she chooses, because Josie doesn’t like him. Geoff, the fiancé in question, is only horrible because he acts JUST LIKE JOSIE. Non-Josie-wise, the book wasn’t really working for me either. The “ohmyg*d” language…if you’re so morally opposed to saying it, just say something else entirely. A straight male character can’t say whether another male is attractive, because DUH, he’s a straight male. I checked with my (MANLY! FIREFIGHTER!) husband, and he said “stop talking to me while I watch my boyfriend Leo in Shutter Island for the 9000th time”, so take that book, with your religious undertones.

Wild by Alex Mallory: One of my most anticipated titles of the summer and it was such a disappointment for me. I made it 33% and I think that’s far enough to have given it a fair shake. Basically, when the girl broke the Tarzan boy SLASH CREEPY STRANGER LIVING IN THE WOODS out of the hospital, I just couldn’t.

Undead With Benefits by Jeff Hart: I mostly enjoyed the first installment in this series – Eat, Brains, Love – but the continuation still feels pointless, even after reading 43% of it. It follows the normal zombie storyline: become infected, search for cure in walled off area, government corruption, blahblahblah. The humor is not even working for me as well this time and at one point it is insinuated that dinosaurs and man coexisted so…done. It’s a fast read and I could probably finish it and find it mostly painless, but the more I think about it, the more I don’t want to be thinking about it any longer.

Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo: Worst family ever. The story starts with Leigh as a 14 year old who reads chunky classics, for school and for FUN – Thomas Hardy is her boyfriend. But she doesn’t know what The Shire is.

Starry Night by Isabel Gillies: 5% might not be a fair shake, but I just couldn’t. No thank you, every cliché ever. Boring girls in high school say Starry Night is their favorite painting EVERRRR. If Wren is so artsy-fartsy, I want her to have a different OMG FAVE.

Paperback Recap: September 2014

sept14

 

September was…a month. I celebrated my second anniversary of marriage (fourth of dating) and my contract with the college ended, so I spent about two weeks being unemployed and one additional week being technically employed but waiting for background and drug tests to clear.

favorites1

Favorite Books in September: I had a Maggie Stiefvater re-read in September, so obviously The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, and The Scorpio Races were the best. I also got a little too excited and read Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You (also terrific), even though it doesn’t come out until March.

Favorite Movie/TV in September: Still working through Teen Wolf and Doctor Who episodes. I really need to finally watch the So You Think You Can Dance finale (it was spoiled for me on facebook) and get caught up on The League‘s new season.

Favorite Musical Discovery of September: Hoodie Allen. Um, why did no one tell me about this? I listened to the entire spotify catalog on REPEAT for like three days straight and I hope my neighbors didn’t judge me like I judge their music I can hear through the walls.

Favorite PR of September: Front Squat 1RM @ 190# (failed attempt at 195#)//Free standing hand stand push ups – first day I tried I literally skidded across the floor – on my face! Went back for more the next day and did quite a few! They’re not pretty and I can’t do more than one at a time, but they’ll come along. Overhead Squat: 113#, up from 90# last year – I obviously hadn’t tested this in a while, and I was having a bad lifting day so I decided to max something out. I failed at #125 which was too big a jump AND more than I can clean/jerk, so I missed the behind the head jerk and kind of crashed the bar onto my head (safely!). Back Squat 5RM @ 180#, up from 175# and Back Squat 3RM @ 205#, up from 185# about 9 months ago.

You might not know this, but I really like to squat.

I’m doing the Crossfit Team Series workout with a team in my gym and one of the workouts in the most recent set of events was a 2 rep max bench press. I did 125#, which is not a PR, but only 4 girls in my division and area (Northern California – very competitive) benched more than me, and 4 girls benched the same as me.

ALSO! Coming in right at the last minute: Earlier this summer I said I wanted to workout without a shirt on and on Monday I did it! It’s kind of a weird goal to have, but if there was ever a workout that called for it, it was Team SuperMurph (run 1500m as a team carrying a 14# ball, 100 pullups, 200 burpees, 300 wallballs @ 14#, run 1500m as a team carrying 14# ball). I lost it somewhere in the first half of the wallballs and finished the workout.

Top Blog Thing in September: Nothing very exciting this month, but I do have some fun things going on in October!

Favorite Search Term in September: Did I change something? I’m not getting the hilarious search terms I used to. Anyway, the only contender this month is “i wanna punch someone in the throat” because girl, me too.

 

whatelse

The whole month was basically consumed by job searching, curating spotify playlists, doing gym rat stuff with my friends, and zero reading. At the time of this writing, I’ve only read 15 books in September. I’m about to finish 1 more, and estimate that I will end the month with 17 books read. My Goodreads challenge is only 3 books ahead!! I spent the whole year at 12 books ahead! I don’t know how to enter my re-reads, or else I’d really be doing great. The next book I finish will be my 200th book of the year.