Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #88: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #88: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Published by Scholastic on September 19, 2012
Pages: 409
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mystery, Mythology, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
four-stars

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“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not 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’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s 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.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Recommended by: The entire world, basically. But it was put in Sadie Hawkins by Ellis (The Random Transliterator/Finding Bliss in Books), Layla, and Stephen

Oh hey. So yeah. I did this thing. I read The Raven Boys. And I told absolutely no one. I almost accidentally blurted it out in chat a bunch of times. I also thought about instagramming myself reading over lunch and then realized I was reading The Raven Boys secretly, which I would no longer be post ill-considered Innstagram. However, I remained steadfast and secretive, even once I know, early on, that I was going to like the book. I wanted to be able to have only my thoughts in my head for this one, because there’s so much out there already and I didn’t want the hype to mess with my experience. Anyway, you guys win: The Raven Boys is fantastic.

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Journeys to the Backlist

One of my goals for the last couple of years has been to work more backlist titles into my schedule. Basically, I want to have more free reading time away from my review books so I can catch up on the amazing titles I’ve missed, as well as rereading favorites. I’m really excited to embark on these popular series, but this also comes with a good deal of trepidation.

When you’re reading review books, you’re on the front wave of the hype generally. You may have seen a few reviews out there, but it’s not usually overwhelming, though a few books (think The Fifth Wave and These Broken Stars) do manage to get an overwhelming push before the release date. Still, one of the advantages of an advance review copy is being able to read before the real hype train gets rolling.

gif this is the best
Very few books can live up to praise on this level.

Journeying back to popular backlist titles has it’s advantages. For one thing, various people have taken that ship and you can see if it ended in a tragic sinking by plotberg. It’s a lot easier to know what books you’ll like when everyone you know has already read and rated the book.

HOWEVER, there’s always the danger of being the black sheep. There’s SO MUCH PRESSURE. Everyone has been telling out about these books for years and they want to know the outcome. Maybe.

gif under pressure david bowie

The thing is that if you end up absolutely loathing everyone else’s favorite book and writing a scathing review, that could be a problem. Now, your friends won’t hate you or anything. We’re not THAT tied to these books. You might, however, make them sad. I worry about this a lot when embarking on friend’s favorite books and worry about it in turn when someone picks up one of my recommendations.

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Plus, we’re all on Goodreads and we have blog links showing what we’re currently reading. Everyone knows what’s going down. People will constantly check in for your thoughts and feelings, not intending to scare you but because they love you and want to go through this experience with you. I sometimes find this causing me to read differently than I might if there weren’t so many people eager for my feedback.

gif robert de niro watching you

Finally, we come to the point of my post. I’m going to be sneak reading various books. They won’t go on Goodreads or show up on my currently reading here on the blog, because I don’t want people to know until the review is WRITTEN.

gif stealth mode psych

It’s funny how difficult it actually is for me to not talk to people about the books I’m reading now. Back in the pre-blogging days, that sad wasteland of bookishness, I rarely could talk to anyone about whatever book I was obsessed with or irritated with. These days, most of the books I read I discuss with someone, either in passing or occasionally in depth. I’m used to sharing my every thought while reading with people like Meg (Cuddlebuggery), Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) or Debby (Snuggly Oranges).

In some ways, reading completely secretly is wonderful. I relish the idea of surprising everyone and my freedom to let my feelings do what they want without any well-intentioned pestering. I like that I’m in charge and won’t risk accidental spoiling or getting people’s hopes up by loving and then hating their favorite book. At the same time, though, doing so has really highlighted how much I LOVE having so many people around me who do love to talk about what I’m reading. I’m so excited to get to talk about the books once I come out of my hermit reading cave and into the sunshine.

gif let me tell you about my feels supernatural

What about you guys? Do you ever feel compelled to sneak read books to spare your feelings or the feelings of your friends?

And, oh yeah, I read The Raven Boys and you can check out that review tomorrow if you dare.

gif evil laugh emperor's new groove

Review: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Review: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Published by HarperTeen on October 21, 2014
Pages: 336
Genres: Gothic, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
three-half-stars

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It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.

Despite the beautiful cover, Beware the Wild wasn’t really on my radar. The names Sterling and Phin would have been enough to scare me off, but the addition of a southern setting sealed the deal. I may have grown up, ostensibly, in the south, but southern fiction doesn’t tend to work well for me. Because of two people, I decided to read this book now and I’m glad I did. Perhaps most importantly, Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) read and loved it. Then Meg (Cuddlebuggery) sent me her ARC, planning to read her egalley instead, since I had neither. Beware the Wild turned out to be a surprisingly eerie delight, one that differs from my usual reads and that made for a lovely change of pace.

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Cover Snark (123): The One Where the Dog Knows Best

CoverSnarkChristina2

Welcome to Cover Snark, where the people are snarky and the covers quiver in fear. Since I don’t write many snarky book reviews here on A Reader of Fictions, Cover Snark is my outlet. If you click on the title of the book, where possible, I’ve linked to Goodreads. Clicking on the cover itself will show you the cover in a larger size, in most cases. Feel free to love covers I hate and vice versa. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Shiny and New:

1. The Last Leaves Falling – Sarah Benwell
The Last Leaves Falling - Sarah Benwell
Thoughts: Where did the yellow feathers come from?!?!

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Review: Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi

Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi
Published by Knopf BFYR on September 24, 2013
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
two-half-stars

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Chasing Shadows is a searing look at the impact of one random act of violence.

Before: Corey, Holly, and Savitri are one unit—fast, strong, inseparable. Together they turn Chicago concrete and asphalt into a freerunner’s jungle gym, ricocheting off walls, scaling buildings, leaping from rooftop to rooftop.

But acting like a superhero doesn’t make you bulletproof...

After: Holly and Savitri are coming unglued. Holly says she's chasing Corey's killer, chasing revenge. Savitri fears Holly's just running wild—and leaving her behind. Friends should stand by each other in times of crissi. But can you hold on too tight? Too long?

In this intense novel, told in two voices, and incorporating comic-style art sections, Swati Avasthi creates a gripping portrait of two girls teetering on the edge of grief and insanity. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend . . . and how many ways to be lost.

Chasing Shadows didn’t get any marketing to speak of, and I really didn’t know much about it. What lured me into requesting it was the mixed media element, the combination of a regular novel and graphic novel. Turns out Chasing Shadows is just as unique as that suggests. Despite there being a whole lot to like about it, the book missed worming its way into my heart, and I ended up feeling rather bored a lot of the time.

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