Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

ThroneOfGlass
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
(Throne of Glass #1)
Published: 8-2-2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

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Art – Alessandro Taini    

I love this illustration of Celaena because it’s clear that she’s deadly and more than willing to kill. The rest of the cover is so dark that I wish it were a bit brighter. I like the title font and the little swirlies around the word ‘of.’

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Throne of Glass was a bit of a strange read for me. I was expecting to be blown away, based on all the buzz I’ve seen for this series online. And I just wasn’t all that impressed. I’ve read similar books that I liked better and many aspects of this book merely reminded me of those other books. So, basically, Throne of Glass didn’t really do anything to stand out in my mind, but was still a good read.

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  • Chaol – The young captain of the Guard is by far the most mysterious character and I found him to be the most interesting as well. While he is good friends with Dorian, Chaol has many immediate responsibilities and the prince just seems to be doing nothing while he waits to become important. The two are an interesting study in contrasts. Chaol is stoic, he doesn’t often voice his thoughts, yet he’s a steady presence in Celaena’s new life. Prince Dorian wears his heart on his sleeve and flits in and out of Celaena’s everyday, leaving her doubting his intentions. Chaol is my pick.
  • Celaena – Celaena is a strong character and a deadly assassin, but her flaws are still shown. She’s a young woman who knows countless ways to kill or maim someone and has survived the harshness of the salt mines. On the other hand, Celaena has never had the chance to have someone romantically interested in her or be interested in someone else. She’s thrown by the attention of Prince Dorian and Chaol, and is immediately suspicious of new people. Celaena also tends to jump to conclusions and put herself in danger.
  • Nehemia – Nehemia is a princess from a land that the king is currently trying to conquer. Her reasons for being at the castle are vague, and her history is mysterious. She proves to be a good friend to Celaena, who treats her with respect and is interested in learning about her people. Nehemia is smart and somewhat sneaky, loyal and strong.

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  • love triangle – This is a book about an assassin, so why must there still be a love triangle? Also, why are these guys so willing to trust this girl known as the deadliest assassin around? Does there really have to be a love triangle? Why can’t something else compelling happen between these characters?
  • competitors being killed – A major part of the plot revolves around the mysterious deaths of some of the competitors. What bothered me is that no one really seemed to care. Sure, most of the castle’s inhabitants didn’t know about the grisly murders, or the dangerous people competing. The general feeling is that no one’s going to miss a thief or assassin, but some of the chosen champions were soldiers. What’s strange is that none of the remaining champions seem all that concerned that they could be next. I can’t remember Dorian ever saying anything about it, and while Chaol is investigating, all of that takes place off-page.
  • lackluster – This book has all the ingredients of a blow-your-mind story. Female assassin, deadly competition, supernatural element, third person narration, two very different young men. But all of these things just didn’t capture my attention in an exciting way. It may have been my high expectations for this book, but I just wasn’t captivated. The supernatural element was what pushed the story, but I found it confusing and less interesting than if Celaena had no mystical force on her side, especially since she saw most of the challenges as jokes and not true tests.

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He was kind – unnaturally kind, for someone of his upbringing. He had a heart, she realized, and a conscience. He was different from the others. Timidly, almost clumsily, the assassin strode over to the Crown Prince and kissed him on the cheek. His skin was surprisingly hot, and she wondered if she’d kissed him properly as she pulled away and found his eyes bright and wide.

– pg. 276

Her doorknob clicked and her heart leapt into her throat. Was it time to finally sign her contract with the king? But it wasn’t Dorian or Nehemia, not even a page. The world stopped when Chaol entered instead.

– pg. 391

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3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

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A School for Unusual Girls – Kathleen Baldwin

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A School for Unusual Girls – Kathleen Baldwin
(Stranje House #1)
Published: 5-19-2015 by Tor Teen
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…

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Design – ?

This cover is decent. I love the color scheme and the eerie and misty feeling of the background. I also like that the girl looks like she’s in motion and that we aren’t seeing any defining features other than her hair color. The title treatment is elegant and I really like how the words fit together. Overall, I like this cover, but I think it needs a bit more to differentiate it from all the other boarding school historical books and the other girl in a pretty dress covers.

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I love this book. A School for Unusual Girls is a unique story with a smart, scientifically-inclined heroine. I’ve read a lot of ‘boarding school for special people’ books, and this one is, without a doubt, one of the best. As soon as I finished this book I was online looking for a sequel release date…only to remember that I had read an ARC. I want more of the Stranje House series now!

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  • Georgie – Our heroine, Georgie, is smart. She knows it and refuses to pretend otherwise to fit in. Even when her experiments go wrong, Georgie doesn’t waste time moping – she can’t stop thinking of solutions to the problem. Georgie’s introduction to Stranje House is unusual, and she’s really never given much by way of explanation, so she goes about finding her own answers. I love Georgie’s intelligence, courage, and willingness to do everything possible to help her friends and country.
  • Sebastian – From their first meeting, Georgie and Sebastian’s relationship is deeply interesting. Although Sebastian knows a few unusual girls, he’s never met someone quite like Georgie. My favorite romances are the slow-burning ones, and this one is great. Georgie and Sebastian have a sweet chemistry but are too preoccupied with matters of life and death to act on it. Sebastian is a gentleman, he’s smart, and he respects Georgie. That’s particularly important in a historical society that ignores women.
  • alternate history – This story is an alternate version of what happened following Napoleon’s exile to Elba. Georgie and Sebastian’s work to find a formula for invisible ink is for the army to use instead of codes that can be broken. If their ink formula doesn’t work, it could mean death for thousands of soldiers. I am unspeakably awful at history, so I appreciated the author’s note briefly detailing what actually happened, and I had no trouble following the events of the story. I really enjoy this twist on history that so heavily relies on young adults and science.
  • Tess + Ravencross – We get to see more of Tess than of the other girls, and while I find her running around outside to be strange, I really like her fiery spirit and determination. Although we don’t have all the details about the two men of Ravencross, that aspect of the story is really interesting. Lord Ravencross is very distant and brooding, but he clearly has a heart and it shows in his actions, especially those that involve helping Tess. The sequel is Tess’ story and I can’t wait to read more about Tess and Ravencross. Their relationship was very well developed, especially since they were not the main focus of the book.

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  • Stranje House explanations – There are no explanations given to Georgie about the torture of the other girls until very late in the book. The explanations were too little, too late, and it didn’t make any sense to keep that info from Georgie for so long. The other girls keep putting off telling Georgie what’s going on like they don’t trust her, which is really confusing. There’s no actual reason that she should be left out of the loop, which makes the lack of explanation very annoying.
  • other girls – There aren’t very many other girls at Stranje House, making it more curious when they aren’t given much personality or development. Georgie is at the House because she’s wildly intelligent and won’t conform to fit in. We’re given this reason outright and I assume it’s the same for the others, yet they act like they are there against their will. This may just be related to withholding info from Georgie, but I disliked it. It also seems like one of the girls possesses some kind of paranormal ability, which is very strange given the rest of the characters and story has nothing to do with the paranormal at all.

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Squaring his shoulders, he towered over me. “What I am about to tell you must be kept in strictest confidence. You will never tell anyone.” He grabbed my shoulders. “Anyone. Do you understand me? Lives depend on you keeping silent. My life.”

– Sebastian  Loc. 1380

“Good heavens, Emma, the child might put a torch to our entire neighborhood. We could all be killed in our sleep.”

“In our sleep. Oh, dear. That would, indeed, be a tragedy.” Miss Stranje set her teacup on its saucer. “We really ought to be awake for such a momentous occasion.”

– Lady Pinswary + Miss Stranje  Loc. 1946

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5 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)

Halton Cray – N.B. Roberts

HaltonCray
Halton Cray – N.B. Roberts
(Shadows of the World #1)
Published: 10-8-2014 by Amazon Digital
Get the book: Amazon

When Alexandra Turner takes a job at the eerie Tudor mansion, Halton Cray, she needs all her wit and spirit to cope with the enigmatic Thom Rues. While a near constant fog envelopes the estate, Alex begins questioning the bizarre things she’s seeing around him, as gossip circulates that Thom is more than just different. Determined not to let rumours influence her, Alex tries to learn who he really is, even as he provokes her with his dark sense of humour. But discovery of Thom’s terrible secret propels Alex’s life in a direction she could have never predicted.

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Photo – Andrea Hubner

I like this cover overall. It’s the little details that bring it down. I really like the photo of the girl, especially the way you can’t see her whole face and how her hair is blowing wildly and obscuring the background. It’s a huge plus that the heroine is actually a redhead. The background is suitably eerie for the tone of this book, with just enough detail to make it interesting. What I don’t like is the title font, although it could have been worse, or the golden color of the author’s name. It does kind of look self-published and needs a little pop.

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Halton Cray is an eerie story following Alex as she works at a creepy old mansion with a mysterious tenant. This book has it all; a feisty heroine, great chemistry, a mysterious guy, a creepy haunted house. The atmosphere of this tale is like a ghost story. It’s a slow-building mystery and a slow-burning romance. This is an enthralling story that I really enjoyed and definitely recommend.

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  • Alex’s decision – This is gonna be incredibly vague to avoid spoilers, so try to just go with it. In the middle of this story, Alex makes an important decision about her life. She makes it quickly due to the time-sensitive situation she and Thom are in, but she fully commits to that decision. I really admire the way she makes that tough call, and I love that Thom is a character who respects Alex’s choice immediately. She makes her choice and asks him not to interfere, and he simply does as she wants instead of acting selfishly, which he easily could have done. There is no prolonged scene of Thom trying to change her mind, although of course he does make an attempt, and his nearly unquestioning acceptance of Alex’s decision is wonderful. I wish more book boyfriends and significant others were so confident in their partner’s ability to make choices of their own and support those choices.
  • atmosphere – I love the setting, the pacing, and the eeriness of Halton Cray. Alex’s new job is at an old mansion rumored to be haunted; in fact, she takes over for an employee who literally ran away from the place. Much of the book takes place while Alex is working in the mansion, giving her plenty of exposure to strange noises, strange people, and Thom’s strange behavior. The ghost stories, along with the creepy things Alex experiences as work, build up her suspicions about Thom and the house slowly. Everything is done gradually and convincingly so I was just as uncertain about things as Alex was and I never guessed Thom’s secret.
  • Alex + Thom – Alex is a strong and stubborn character who sticks to her guns. Thom is a mysterious guy who keeps to himself except to tease and provoke Alex. Most people are naturally repelled by Thom, but Alex decides to befriend him. Their banter while they get to know each other is highly entertaining, even if it has Alex sometimes questioning her sanity. The chemistry between these two is great even before any feelings are admitted. They are each strong-willed people throughout the twists and obstacles of the story.
  • story – Although this is a paranormal romance, much of it reads like a contemporary story, which I really enjoyed. Alex is just going about her everyday life while noticing the occasional impossibility and being slowly drawn in to the mystery surrounding the mansion and Thom. There’s definitely a big helping of the paranormal in Halton Cray, but it’s done in a way that’s different from a lot of other paranormal books. There’s no ‘I’m special, I’m the chosen one’ cliche. There’s no adjusting to new powers or a new world. There’s just Alex, learning about things she didn’t know existed or happened.

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  • 2 parts – I felt like this book’s tone and pace were a bit too different from one half to the other. The first half builds everything up very slowly, while the second half launches into action and keeps going until the end. The section before Alex discovers Thom’s secret and the section following the revelation are so different that it threw me off. Of course the sections need to be different, but I really liked the eerie feel of the first half and it took a little time to get used to the faster pace of the second half.
  • dramatic speeches – Thom has the tendency to make long and dramatic speeches and declarations – to himself, to Alex, and about pretty much whatever he has on his mind. Following the revelation of Thom’s secret, he rants about that secret, likes to make undying declarations of devotion, and generally speaks in an old-fashioned manner. Much of this comes from who Thom is and what his secret and story is, which is great. However, the grand declarations of adoration got to be a bit much for me.

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He didn’t move for a moment. His eyes remained fixed on mine as though something strange had caught his attention. Almost certainly the wet strands of hair falling into my face. he looked from my eyes to my mouth and inclined his head a little towards me. I felt confusion with a racing in my chest. Then he bit his lower rip, took his arm away and turned abruptly for the stairs.

– Alex + Thom  Loc. 1859

“Thom, I can’t leave them. There’s something in there, and it’s not right – it doesn’t seem like a normal person. Just help me, please?”

“I will always-” he rushed to say before hesitating. He got next to me, grabbed my arm firmly and spoke rapidly in my ear. “I know about the person in that room, Alex. Listen to me! It won’t harm them; do you understand?”

– Alex + Thom  Loc. 3365

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Etiquette & Espionage – Gail Carriger

EtiquetteAndEspionage
Etiquette & Espionage – Gail Carriger
(Finishing School #1)
Published: 2-5-2013 by Little, Brown
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

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Design – Alison Impey       Photo – Carrie Schechter

I really like the covers for this series. I love the rich background color, with the ornate pattern modified with gears. The girl’s pose is dynamic, and I love how she’s holding the scissors like a weapon. I like how the girl is in black and white because the gold of the scissors and the ampersand stands out even more. The dramatic lighting is eye-drawing and I love how the ampersand is woven behind and in front of the title.

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Etiquette & Espionage is Gail Carriger’s YA series debut. Sophronia is young and intelligent, curious and mischievous, causing her mother to ship her off to finishing school. Sophronia is plunged headlong into mysterious plots, lessons on discreet methods of murder, and the exploration of her new environment. This book takes place in the same steampunk world as The Parasol Protectorate series. It’s fun and quirky with no shortage of action and intrigue.

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  • Sophronia – Sophronia is curious, confident, and not content to sit by while exciting things happen around her. She is constantly sneaking out, climbing around the airborne school, and exploring forbidden areas like the boiler room. I love her attitude about her friends’ differences, her hesitance about violence, and her unwavering pursuit of the truth. Sophronia isn’t afraid to get into dangerous situations, and she’s determined to figure out what Monique is hiding. She’s kind and humble, but she’s straightforward and not afraid to tell someone they’re wrong.
  • Soap – Sophronia makes fast friends with Soap, one of the young men working in the boiler room that keeps the school afloat. Soap is charming and eager to participate in Sophronia’s adventures. He wants to make sure Sophronia is safe on her outlandish exploits, but he does so in a way that’s purely helpful instead of condescending. Seeing as Sophronia is only 14, I appreciated she and Soap’s relationship being mostly friendship with some mild flirting.
  • plot – Etiquette & Espionage is about adventure and mystery. There are a few intriguing guys – Soap and a mysterious student at the boys’ evil genius academy, but there is no love triangle, or even romance really. It’s all about what Sophronia’s focused on – discovering and exploring everything about the school, and figuring out what Monique stole and where she hid it.

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  • Monique – One of my YA pet peeves is conflict with a snobby or popular classmate. I have no particular reason – it just usually seems like such a shallow conflict and I’d rather read about some other kind of conflict. Monique is snobby and older. It would have been fine if she hadn’t been punished by being demoted to the first years’ dorm and classes. I understand that the punishment put her under closer surveillance by Sophronia, but Monique is one of those characters with no evident positive traits. I like that she seems to be good at deception and plotting, but I just didn’t enjoy reading scenes that included her.
  • relation to Parasol Protectorate – I have read and enjoyed all five books in the Parasol Protectorate series, which are adult books (because sex) in the same world as this one. It was a bit distracting to me because in this story there are people who are related to characters in the Parasol Protectorate and my brain would just latch on to these names and try to figure out how they were related, and whether this book took place before or after that series. I’ve decided that this series is before the other chronologically.

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“I didn’t hear or see anything. Although I have been wondering, sir, how you eat? Or should I say who?”

The vampire said nothing.

Have I revealed that I saw too much? Quietly Sophronia added, “And the soot on my dress, sir?”

“I didn’t see anything.” Professor Braithwope smiled down at her, showing a small hint of fang.

Sophronia grinned back. “I’m glad we understand each other, sir.”

– Sophronia + Professor Braithwope  loc. 2751

“Thank you kindly for your help,” said Sophronia, rather awkwardly formal.

” ‘Course, miss,” said Soap, coming in far too close and tucking a loose bit of Sophronia’s hair behind her ear before swinging himself back over the railing and clambering away.

Dimity gave Sophronia a long, suspicious look.

– loc. 3281

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater
(The Raven Cycle #3)
Published: 10-21-2014 by Scholastic Press
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

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.

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Design – Christopher Stengel       Art – Adam S. Doyle

I continue to adore the eerie paintings by Adam S. Doyle used on these covers. I like that these covers are printed on a satiny paper, giving them a bit of shine. This cover just feels a bit too buys, just like the first two, but I love the colors of this one.

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These books are addicting and engrossing, which made this one seem so short even though it’s just under 400 pages. Each book in this series is amazing, but Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the one I enjoyed the least so far. Everything’s escalating, but it’s quiet at the same time. There’s less searching and more danger, and everything is strange.

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  • Ronan + Adam – Ronan’s character development continues to be awesome. He’s so angry and volatile that it really means something whenever Ronan does something selfless or kind. He’s somewhat conflicted about his dreaming and what’s necessary in their quest for Glendower. Adam is finally beginning to put aside his pride sometimes and accept the kindness of his friends. He’s continuing to deal with learning how to communicate with Cabeswater and the fallout of his father’s arrest. Ronan and Adam are the ones who have changed the most, and they seem to be developing a closer relationship, possibly a romantic one. I love the small ways Ronan supports Adam, especially because Ronan has a difficult time showing affection of any kind, and Adam has trouble accepting affection. I really like the two of them hanging out together and plotting things.
  • Gansey – Gansey’s up to something at the school that he hasn’t let anyone else in on, which is worrying. His fear of wasps is resurfacing and he’s no longer the clear leader of the group. Overall, Gansey is more and more human, less hero. He’s getting closer and closer to finding Glendower, but what happens when he does? What favor does he request? What does he do when his lifelong quest is over? And what kills him and will anyone tell him he’s fated to die?
  • Blue – I love Blue. She’s a short, pink pocket knife carrying spitfire. She does what she has to in order to help Gansey and the guys, and in order to find her missing mother. Blue is her own person and she makes sure everyone knows it. Something’s happening with Blue being an energy source and not appearing between the mirrors in the attic, but we have no idea what yet. The way Blue interacts with her family, with the Grey Man, and with the guys is always entertaining.
  • Blue + Gansey – Both Blue and Gansey are practicing a great deal of restraint when it comes to their mutual attraction. Obviously, they can’t kiss due to the prophecy of Blue killing her true love, but they’re also trying to deny their feelings for each other. I love how they spend time together constantly, but they only focus on finding Glendower. It’s only late at night, when they’re alone and lonely, that they ever reach out to each other. The fourth and final books is sure to be a heartbreaker.

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  • Greenmantle + Piper – While I do like that Piper seems to be the more important of these two, their presence is annoying. Much like the Gray Man in the second book (who I like in this book), it’s hard to pull your thoughts away from Blue and the Raven Boys to focus on new characters. Much of the time, Greenmantle and Piper are simply arguing with each other, which isn’t exactly interesting.
  • slow – While the first two books certainly established a dreamy and fantastic atmosphere, this book just seems slower. There’s more planning and thinking, and less action involved this time. The group knows they’re getting dangerously close to finding Glendower, but there’s more hesitation now, as well as more people looking for the sleeping king. To me, this book was just less exciting than the first two.

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She wished she could still evoke that Blue who despised him. She wished she knew if Adam would feel terrible about this. She wished she knew if fighting this feeling would make Gansey’s foretold end destroy her any less.

– pg. 67

Ducking his head, he pulled off his ghost light and hung it over her shoulder. She didn’t bother to say, ‘But you’ll be waiting in darkness.’ Nor did she say, ‘If I vanish immediately into the lake, you’ll have to find your way out of here sightless.’ Because he’d already known both these things when he’d given it to her.

– Ronan + Blue  pg. 367

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

ToAllTheBoysI'veLovedBefore
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
Published: 1-1-2014 by Simon & Schuster 
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

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Design – Lucy Ruth Cummins       Photo – Anna Wolf       Hand-Lettering – Nancy Howell

I really like this cover. It’s fresh and different while still being true to the book. The hand-lettering is my favorite part. I love how it perfectly fills the space, how it’s slightly slanted, and how it looks like it was done with marker – the variations in darkness are so interesting. I absolutely love how the title is written down the left side of the cover and the nontraditional placement of the author’s name. The spaced out pink lines about the author are nicely done because it doesn’t overpower the cover. The photo choice is perfectly minimal while still being interesting and thankfully this isn’t another whitewashed cover. Isn’t it sad that I’m thankful for that?

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I cannot figure out why so many people absolutely love this book. I barely made it through the first few chapters because I just wasn’t interested or drawn in at all. Lara Jean is dull, Margot is controlling, and neither love interest is actually interesting. This book took me a very long time to get into and I just didn’t really care what happened.

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  • Kitty + Peter – My favorite relationship in this story is the friendship between 9-year-old Kitty and Lara Jean’s fake boyfriend Peter. Most of Peter’s better qualities show when he’s interacting with Kitty. He pays attention to her, doesn’t talk down to her, and seems to genuinely enjoy seeing her, which is really sweet. None of Peter’s angst over his ex or selfishness toward Lara Jean show when he’s talking to Kitty. How the person you’re dating treats your family is really important and Peter is great with Lara Jean’s family.
  • family adjustment – I like how Lara Jean, Kitty, and their father had to adjust to Margot’s absence. Every family is unique and has its own way of communicating and relating to each other. Your family kind of shifts whenever someone moves out and everyone else has to adjust. Lara Jean’s family has to figure out everyday things like chores and transportation and meals without Margot there.

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  • plot/letters – Who on Earth would actually address their private love letters? When I read a book I’m enjoying, I have no problem with suspension of disbelief, but this story hinges on these letters finding their subjects. If you truly intend for your love letters to never see the light of day, do not put the person’s address on them, do not even put their last name on them. Their addresses? Come on. If Lara Jean’s letters had been on her computer and then someone found their way to the guys, I could absolutely believe that scenario. I just can’t wrap my mind around someone being clueless enough to address their love letters.
  • family – First of all, Lara Jean calls her father “Daddy.” She’s 17, but this makes her seem much closer to Kitty’s age. Now, I know that whatever you call your parents is very personal, but for me it made it hard to picture Lara Jean as a teenager. Then there’s Margot, Lara Jean’s uptight older sister who’s moving abroad for college. Margot is trying to be independent, but she seems to think that this includes treating Lara Jean and Josh like crap. Margot is always assuming that Josh is pining for her and insulting him over it, but the second she discovers that he might be interested in Lara Jean, she decides they’ve both betrayed her. Lara Jean’s attempts to keep up a good relationship with her sister over email are met with Margot basically brushing her off like she’s too busy to care about Lara Jean’s problems or life.
  • Peter + Josh – Neither of Lara Jean’s love interests are very interesting. I had trouble with Peter’s expectations and demands of Lara Jean as his fake girlfriend. Most of the time he seems like a good guy, but at one point he has a hissy fit because Lara Jean doesn’t want to sit with him on a bus trip and insists that it’s a requirement of girlfriends to always sit with their boyfriends and basically ignore any other friends they may want to spend time with. Josh really doesn’t get much description since he’s usually around but not interacting with Lara Jean or doing whatever she’s doing. Since Josh is Margot’s ex, he’s “off-limits” and Lara Jean and Kitty are figuring out how close of friends they can be with him. So, Josh is mostly only characterized by his absence. I didn’t really care which guy Lara Jean chose, and I didn’t understand why the guys hated each other – was it just so they’d be even more of rivals?
  • mock UN guy – Lara Jean seeks out the only one of the letter recipients she hasn’t heard from, just to see if he remembers her. She has no other reason. He’s not doing anything at all relating to Lara Jean. She just seems to want to make her life more difficult by adding more suitors. I think the entire scene where she sees this guy was written in as a loose strand to justify an unneeded sequel. Lara Jean is so immature that she can’t even walk up to this guy without pretending to be part of the model UN event.

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The way he’s looking at me now, I’m suddenly in a time warp back to a summer day when I was fourteen and he was fifteen, and we were walking home from somewhere. He was looking at me so intently I was sure he was going to try to kiss me. I got nervous, so I picked a fight with him and he never looked at me like that again.

Until this moment.

– pg. 86

I finally look at Peter, and I’m surprised by how hard he’s paying attention; his eyes are intent and focused on me like he’s actually interested in what I’m saying. “Even when I like a boy so much, loved him even, I would always rather be with my sisters, because that’s where I belong.”

“Wait. What about right now?”

“Right now? Well, I don’t like you that way so…”

“Good,” Peter says. “Don’t go falling for me again, okay? I can’t have any more girls in love with me. It’s exhausting.”

– Lara Jean + Peter  pg. 192

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3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

DreamThieves
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
(The Raven Cycle #2)
Published: 9-5-2013 by Scholastic Press
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

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Art – Adam S. Doyle

I love the art on these covers. Adam S. Doyle’s style is perfect for these stories. But there’s just something about the cover that I don’t like. I’m not sure what it is though. I think it might be that it just feels very crowded to me. I think the illustration needs more room. I like the placement of the title, but it bothers me that it changes color. I just don’t know what’s off about it.

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Aah, this book! The Dream Thieves is absolutely wondrous. The writing is beautiful, the story has so many layers, everything is so atmospheric, and the characters are all deep and multi-faceted. The Raven Cycle is an addicting series that is hard to put down. If you haven’t started reading it, I can’t recommend it enough.

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  • Ronan – Ronan’s main characteristics are angry and loyal, but his story is the backbone of this sequel and we get to see that there is much more to him. The secret about Ronan’s father is revealed, as is the full extent to which that secret has shaped Ronan’s life. Ronan is angry over what he’s lost, kicking himself for not seeing the truth sooner, and dangerously desperate to get everything back. The fine line that Ronan walks with Kavinsky is interesting for a few reasons. Kavinsky is a threatening guy but his time spent with Ronan shows that he’s just looking for something fulfilling. Kavinsky’s constant jokes and suggestions about Ronan being gay are annoying, but what’s interesting is the way Ronan doesn’t refute them, only says his relationship with Gansey isn’t like that. I really liked seeing deeper into Ronan’s head. Seeing the differences between how Kavinsky did things and how Ronan did things, and Ronan coming face to face with his nightmares really showed a different side to him.
  • Blue – I still really like Blue. She’s really the only one of the group that seems to have no ability or anything special related to their quest for Glendower, as well as the only non-psychic in her house. Blue loves the boys and is happy that they’ve fully accepted her into their group and their quest, but she’s still wary to be seen with any “Raven boys.” Blue is ever-aware of the whole kissing=death prediction, something she’s only told Gansey. This further strains her fledgling relationship with Adam, even as she realizes that she might like Gansey after all. But Blue is wonderful and fiercely individual, never mooning over any of the guys when she can be taking action in the search for Glendower. Blue is very clear that she is not something to be owned and she does not suffer any mere suggestion that she belongs to anyone.
  • Gansey – Oh, Gansey, our tragic hero. Gansey relies on his public image mask less and less as things in the search for Glendower get farther along but also more complicated. There are many more people who are somehow connected to their search than they originally imagined, and they aren’t exactly offering to work together. Gansey likes to be in control, but it’s increasingly clear to him that he can’t control much in the group’s quest. Noah’s practically gone, Adam is more and more distant since Cabeswater, Ronan is suddenly fending off his nightmares during his waking hours, and Blue is off-limits.
  • plot – The plot of this book, and the whole series really, is so complex and layered, and so are the characters. Gansey still has no idea that he’s fated to die within the year and Blue is tortured with the knowledge of his impending death as she grows closer to him and all the guys. The members of Blue’s family are becoming more integral to the search for Glendower, and the search itself is something involving death and dreams, timeloops and questionable psychic rituals.

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  • Adam – Adam feels like much more of a main character here than he did in the 1st book, probably because there was no need to pretend Noah was human. I have mixed feelings about Adam. His journey is great, but I’m not sure I like him as a character. I’m glad Adam has moved out of his parents’ place, but it seems like he likes to maintain a buffer between himself and the others by living alone, even if I can kinda understand his pride. Adam’s method of dealing with things, whether it’s his sacrifice to Cabeswater, his relationship with Blue, or his friendships with the guys, is just to avoid everything. I want Adam to stand up for himself more.
  • the Grey Man – It’s always difficult for me to get into a new character’s POV, especially when it’s not immediately clear how they relate to the plot. The Grey Man is an outsider, and while I don’t know how else the threat of others searching for the Greywaren could’ve been handled, I found the Grey Man’s chapters to be boring. His perspective just took so long to matter to the main plot and I thought there could’ve easily been less time devoted to his POV.

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“What care is it of yours,” Gansey asked, “what I think of Orla?”

This felt dangerous, for some reason. He possibly shouldn’t have asked it. In retrospect, it wasn’t the question itself at fault. It was the way that he’d asked it. His thoughts had been far away, and he hadn’t been minding how he looked on the outside, and now, too late, he heard the dip of his own words. How the inflection seemed to contain a dare.

Come on Gansey, he thought. Don’t ruin things.

Blue held his gaze, unflinchingly. Crisp, she replied, “None at all.”

And it was a lie.

It should not have been, but it was, and Gansey, who prized honesty above nearly every other thing, knew it when he heard it. Blue Sargent cared whether or not he was interested in Orla. She cared a lot. As she whirled toward the truck with a dismissive shake of her head, he felt a dirty sort of thrill.       – Gansey + Blue   pg. 195

“He’s not alone when he leaves the car behind.”

There was something chilling about the phrase ‘Leaves behind.’ It could have just meant ‘parked the car.’ But it didn’t sound like that when Calla said it. It sounded like a synonym for abandon the Pig.

“When does it happen?”

“It already has,” Calla replied. Her eyes opened and fixed on Blue. “And it hasn’t yet.”     – Calla + Blue    pg. 340

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5 Robots

Acquired: bought