Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle
Rating:
★★★★★

I was better prepared this time. I had a feeling the beginning would feel a little disjointed but then everything would suddenly come out and it would be wonderful. I was ready. And The Dream Thieves did not disappoint.

Things are different for the group now. Their roles aren’t as defined and no one really knows what that means for their quest or their friendships. Tensions are rising, secrets are coming out, and the truth is getting muddled. Blue is still in a sort-of relationship with Adam, but her feelings about Gansey are getting confusing. Ronan has demons to face and a secret that could get him in trouble. Gansey is empowered by the successes of their quest, but unprepared for the failures. All of this is only made more important by the arrival of people searching for the same thing the raven boys and Blue are looking for.

Something I am really enjoying about this series is the slow build. Not everything has to happen right away. Things take their time unfolding, letting the idea grow before coming to fruition. Blue and Adam are a friendship, but maybe more, but Blue won’t let herself fall for any boy, even though Adam tries. Blue and Gansey are building a friendship build on trust and respect, even as things start to get confusing for them. Even Blue and Ronan are finding a groove in their relationship. Things aren’t perfect, of course, but it all feels real. Nothing is forced in these relationships and that’s refreshing to read.

I feel like The Dream Thieves is more of Adam and Ronan’s stories. Adam is trying to find a way to be equal in the group and Ronan is trying to find a way to deal with the truth.

Adam has always felt like less than because he doesn’t come from money like the other boys. He’s had to work for everything, he’s had to think about how his actions affect others, and he’s had to make choices for himself that he didn’t want to. It’s left him feeling unequal in the circle of friends. In The Dream Thieves, he finds what makes him equal.

Ronan has carried a secret with him and now it’s threatening his way of life. He doesn’t understand what he is or how he affects the world. He’s blown off this secret any way he can, until it finally gets free and he must face it. He has to find a way to accept what he is and learn how to control himself. His struggle was fascinating to read and it really explains a lot about his character.

The Dream Thieves is a superb follow-up to The Raven Boys that only deepens the mystery. It will have you on the edge of your seat and holding your breath. Things are only just beginning and the wait for the next novel feels so incredibly long. There’s so much story left to tell.

If The Dream Thieves sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to NetGalley and Scholastic Press for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle
Rating:
★★★★★

So here’s the thing. For the first part of The Raven Boys, I was completely ready to share my disappointment in the book. I didn’t feel like anything was happening and it was just going to be a bunch of different stories that somehow connected. And then something happened. I’m not entire sure when things shifted, or how, but all of a sudden I couldn’t put it down. Any disappointment or confusion I felt at the beginning vanished.

There are several different stories being told in The Raven Boys. Blue, Gansey, and Adam are the main perspectives, but there are a few others as well. I think this is why I wasn’t sure where the story was headed in the beginning. The characters all seemed so different, and on different paths, that I wasn’t sure how they would end up together. I should have put more trust in Stiefvater because she brought everything together perfectly.

Blue’s family and home is filled with physics, but she has no real power. She amplifies things for everyone else, but she doesn’t have visions or powers of her own. She’s always felt a little left out, so when she sees a soul of a boy set to die in the next year, she is shocked. There are only two reasons why she would be able to see him and neither is comforting. He is either her true love or she is going to kill him. Unfortunately for Blue, her kiss is fated to kill her one true love.

Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah are a group of friends that go to the prestigious all-boys school of Aglionby. They’re known as the raven boys. Blue has sworn off all boys, but especially raven boys. However, the quest the boys are on draws Blue in, despite her attempts to remain distant. Adam is the boy who brings her into the fold, but she forms a friendship with all of them and for the first time, she feels useful instead of just used. With Blue added to their group of adventurers, things begin to happen for the group.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because you really need to experience the entire thing without prior knowledge, but I will say the plot fascinates me. The tie to Earth’s energy and ancient history is something I’ve come across before and find incredibly interesting. I really can’t wait to see what more Stiefvater does with this concept.

The Raven Boys came out of nowhere and hit me hard. I went from being extremely meh about it, to absolutely in love with it. There is so much more story to tell and my only regret is that I can’t go forward in time to get my hands on the remaining novels. This is a beautiful start to the series and I can’t wait to read more.

If The Raven Boys sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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IndieBound

Can’t Wait for Mondays: Crash into You by Katie McGarry

When I read Pushing the Limits, I wasn’t really sure it was going to be for me. I can be picky when it comes to teen romances with drama. Sometimes there’s just too much that goes on that’s either unbelievable or cringe-worthy. Instead, I found myself completely drawn in and loving McGarry and her writing.

The same thing happened when I read Dare You To. I knew McGarry could write a contemporary teen novel that didn’t stray into the overly dramatic, but I was still just a little hesitant. I had absolutely nothing to fear. Dare You To was even better and gave my heart even more flutters.

And now to round out the trio of friends’ stories, Isaiah gets to tell his love story. And I really, really can’t wait. From everything I’ve read, it is even more glorious than the first two novels.

From the book description:

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

That sounds like a book that is going to get my heart racing for more than one reason. And those are the books I love. They get me involved and caring and then something comes along to make me catch my breath.

Crash into You is available for pre-order and will be released on November 26th. Be sure to get your copy as soon as possible. McGarry isn’t an author you want to miss.

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Rating: ★★★★

I was in the mood for a sweet teen romance that would make my heart flutter and my insides melt. The Distance Between Us is just that kind of book. It’s not an epic love story, it doesn’t have any paranormal aspects, and it doesn’t make you analyze every word. It’s just a sweet, wonderful romance about two people coming together and figuring love out.

Cayman has always been there for her mother. She helps run the doll store her mother owns, even taking time away from school to make sure her mother doesn’t work too hard. After being abandoned by her father before she was even born, her mother’s impression of the rich has worn off on her. They just don’t understand what it’s like to struggle, so she doesn’t really give them the time of day. So when Xander walks into the doll store and breaks a few of those stereotypical rich ideas, Cayman isn’t sure how to handle it. Add in Masen, the lead singer for a band and someone her mother thinks is a better match, more her equal, and you’ve got a fantastic story.

I love Cayman. She says it how it is and her sarcasm and dry humor are what keep this book from being too sappy. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, but it’s easy to see that her sarcasm is a way to protect her from having to deal with the unpleasantries of the world. She has a wall up, with good reason, and her humor is how she defends that wall. It was in the moments when she let that shield down, though, that I found myself adoring her. It was easy to see how much she cares for people, even if she tries to stay aloof. This book could have easily fallen into Hallmark movie cheesiness territory, but it was Cayman that kept the novel feeling light and fresh.

Xander is charming and sweet, just what he should be. Even Masen is wonderful. There wasn’t any competition between the two, but I liked how Masen was there to show that Cayman wasn’t going to settle for something she didn’t feel was right. Masen wasn’t there to provide a distraction, he was there to make sure Cayman followed her heart. And her heart led her to Xander. The fact that they started out as friends was perfect. It made the romance feel authentic. They pushed each other to be more than what they thought they could be. They created a base before building a relationship on it. Yes, there were a few trust and miscommunication issues, but in a teen romance, that’s what you expect. They work through them and in the end it creates a stronger relationship.

There is a bit of a twist at the end that doesn’t really help or hurt the novel, but that’s okay. It was just there and I think even without it, the novel would have been just as good. I can see why West added the plot point though, and it does help move the story along.

Kasie West has written a wonderfully sweet novel about overcoming stereotypes and finding that first love. It could have easily become too cheesy to read, but the characters keep it from straying into that territory. They’re real and funny and sweet and perfect. The Distance Between Us is the perfect read if you’re looking for something that will make your heart flutter.

If The Distance Between Us sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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IndieBound

Review: Awaken by Meg Cabot

Title: Awaken
Author: Meg Cabot
Series: Abandon series
Rating: ★★★★

After being left wanting a little something more with Abandon and Underworld, Awaken really stepped it up and made an impact. It was the culmination of everything that had happened in the previous two novels and when things finally happened, it was wonderful.

Pierce has accepted her role as consort to the ruler of the Underworld. She’s made her decisions based on how she felt and what she thought was right for her. She’s finally found a place where she feels at home, like herself, and she’s happy to be there. When something goes horribly wrong, she must take on a new role and fight for the ones she loves. She must rely on the help of her new friends to face this new evil and save those she cares about.

The supporting characters are what really make this novel stand out to me. They don’t let Pierce shy away or ignore them. They make sure she knows she can rely on them for help, and they’ll be there for her whenever she needs help, sometimes even before she knows she needs it. They’re a different group of people, I wouldn’t call them normal, but they are there for Pierce and John when they need to be. They provide the real element of the novel.

I’m so relieved the storyline went where it did. Most of the little pieces that had been dropped in the first two novels were put in place. There were still a few things that seemed to fall too perfectly into place, and I wish the rules of the Underworld and real world were fleshed out more, but for what it was, the story was great. I had gone into this series thinking it was a modern take on the Persephone and Hades myth, and in a way it was. But it was more about figuring out how to fit into the world and deal with the things thrown your way.

Sadly, the relationship between Pierce and John still felt off. The spark just wasn’t there for me. They said they loved each other, but I just didn’t feel like it was really there. There was development, though, and I can see how down the road, there will be a great love between them. They finally trust and respect each other. I still don’t feel like it was love, but I can sense the potential and that was enough for me.

The Abandon series was not what I expected, but Awaken was the best ending to the series I could have imagined. It put nearly all the missing puzzle pieces back together and left me with a satisfied feeling at the end. This part of Pierce and John’s story is over, but it’s easy to imagine their future together. Overall a good series, even if it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be.

If Awaken sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Audible
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IndieBound

Thank you to NetGalley and Scholastic Inc. for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Underworld by Meg Cabot

Title: Underworld
Author: Meg Cabot
Series: Abandon series
Rating: ★★★

Like Abandon, Underworld wasn’t quite what I expected. It’s still not the Persephone and Hades myth I was expecting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Underworld definitely has more of the myth elements, and the new characters that are introduced are fantastic, but I’m still wishing there was a little more myth influence.

John has taken Pierce away from the physical world and placed her in the safer Underworld. Here, at least, he can work to protect her from the Furies. In this, Underworld is like the Hades and Persephone myth. Pierce understands why John has done this, but that doesn’t mean she likes it. She’s a little in over her head with her new life and has trouble adjusting to the idea of leaving her old life behind. When she sees that her cousin Alex might be in trouble, all she wants to do is help him, not understanding the possible consequences.

A few of my favorite parts of this novel were the cast of characters introduced in the Underworld. The shipmates John relies on to do his job are all interesting, funny characters and they provide a light note, especially little Henry. I wouldn’t mind reading a book about the adventures this little group had gotten into. They were dynamic and really added something to the novel.

The relationship between John and Pierce still feels a little off to me. Maybe it’s because there hasn’t been much focus on it, but things feel rushed and stiff. I don’t see this love they proclaim to have for each other. A deep caring, I see. Love I don’t. It makes it difficult for me to understand the reasoning behind some of their choices. There’s still a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding between them and even though I enjoy the sweet moments, I can’t believe it’s love. It just doesn’t feel that way. I’m holding out hope that Awaken has the relationship development I’m looking for.

I find myself confused by the major plot of Underworld as well. I’m not sure the part Alex and his misadventures will play in the overall storyline, but I do see pieces of a puzzle falling into place. That didn’t stop me from being confused as to the Alex plot, though. It makes the novel feel as though it has split personality. Everything either has to do with the Underworld or with Alex, but not really both. I wish there was a better blend between the two.

Underworld was closer to the Persephone and Hades myth I keep hoping for, but there are still things holding it back. The relationship between John and Pierce doesn’t feel authentic yet and there’s a little bit of a problem with the flow of the novel, in my opinion. Those issues don’t stop it from being an enjoyable novel to read, though. I’m looking forward to finishing the series with Awaken and seeing how John and Pierce work together to figure out their lives in the Underworld.

If Underworld sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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IndieBound

Book Talk: Companion Novels

Companion novels can be a tricky thing. They can either enhance the original novel and make the story feel complete, or they can take away from the original novel and make the series feel dry and overdone.

I’m the person that doesn’t need to know everything about what happens in a novel. I don’t need every question answered or every perspective given in order to enjoy a story. I like being able to guess and fill in the pieces with my own thoughts. This is why I’m usually a little cautious when it comes to reading companion novels.

Sometimes, companion novels just aren’t needed. The original story does such a great job of saying what needs to be said, that there isn’t anything else that needs to be voiced. When these novels get a companion, I usually avoid it. I don’t want to know anything else because I don’t need to know anything else. Others might need to know the other side of the story, and that’s fine. It’s just not for me.

Companion novels also run the risk of being repetitive. If all a companion novel does is rehash what happened in the original, it can be boring and dull. A companion novel needs to be its own story. It needs to be able to stand on its own without the aid of the original novel. That’s not to say the two novels can’t work together, but they need to be unique. If a companion novel can stand by itself and yet enhance the overall story, it’s a success. Those are the companion novels you want to read.

So how do you feel about companion novels? Good or bad? What are some that you think have worked?