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Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Disquietus, October 25, 2014

SQUASH ONE, SQUASH TWO (sorry I am tormented by not being able to actually listen to this song)

Somebody on Twitter, I think it was Gillian, referred to this book as Blue Feels, Feels Blue and yes yes very much agree. THIS BOOK PUNCHED ME RIGHT IN THE FEELS YOU GUYS. Days later I am still reeling from the sheer emotion it pulled out of me (THIS IS NOT AN EASY THING TO DO. I have a cold black heart). Somewhere in the midst of reading Dream Thieves I became emotionally invested in these characters in a way I haven't felt since Harry Potter (or that vampire series none of us want to admit we loved). The kind of deep attachment that lets me know I will be haunted and wishing for more from them for years and years after their story concludes. Blue Lily, Lily Blue only served to solidify those feelings in the best way possible. Everything about this book was sheer perfection.

The writing is gloriously beautiful and just speaks to my soul. There is really no other way to describe how perfect and engrossing it is. Maggie Stiefvater's prose is just utterly masterful. And the plot? The plot is insane. SO. MUCH. HAPPENS. I obviously can't go into specifics without spoiling it but SERIOUSLY I JUST. HOWWWWWWW???? HOW DOES ANYONE'S MIND CREATE SUCH A WONDERFULLY DETAILED STORY AND JUST KEEP MAKING THINGS EVEN MORE EXCITING AND TERRIFYING AND JUST. I honestly have no idea what to expect from book 4. I have lots of theories (most of them the wild conjectures brought on by an insane mind) but really just no idea how it's all going to end and that is both terrifying and exhilarating.

As wonderful and creative the writing and plot are, the characters are everything. I cannot talk about them enough. They have taken over my life. I am pretty sure they are all me and the BFF have talked about via text for the last week. Seriously. My phone even autocorrects Gansey and Ronan's names to all caps. Even the mere mention of Ronan anywhere causes me to go into a rabid frenzy of glorious feels and capslock. He is my everything. Of course to say that Ronan is my favorite is only to mean that if he were to suddenly die in the final book I would be 0.000000000000001% more saddened than I would be if Blue, Noah, Gansey or Adam were to die. (GANSEY IS NOT DYING OKAY I DON'T CARE WHAT STIEFVATER SAID I REFUSE TO ACCEPT SUCH A REALITY). These characters are just so REAL. Even the secondary characters are gloriously developed and full of spark and personality. Calla is just a treasure. AND JESSE AND THE GREY MAN AND MAURA AND PERSEPHONE. I just can't with this series and these characters. THEY ARE LIFE.

My favorite part about the characterization in Blue Lily, Lily Blue is how much these characters grow in this book, and how we see that growth through the way the other characters observe this, especially Blue and Gansey & Adam and Ronan. We see the best and worst of these characters through the lenses of their friends eyes. Really, Nikki put it so much better than me when she said in her review:

"One thing I love about all of them is that we learn about them through each others’ eyes  ��" not our own eyes, not really from some third-person describing them to us, but we learn the most telling things about them as they learn about each other."

The friendship these five characters share is just so perfect you guys. They have the kind of bond amongst them that everyone dreams of having with another person. I think Ronan broke my feels the most when he says

"...Do you understand? If they die, I die, too."

BECAUSE IT'S JUST SO ACCURATE. (also if any of them die I will die too okay shhhhh I am not being melodramatic). Of course the paragraph that starts out with "But what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another." is also great and perfect and probably my favorite paragraph in the entire series. These five characters share such a glorious all-encompassing friendship that it becomes as consuming for the reader as it is for them. Even the tiny insignificant moments involving Ronan and Blue, Noah and Gansey, or Adam and whoever had me falling apart with the glory of their love for each other. WE CAN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT RONAN AND GANSEY BECAUSE UGH MY FEELS AND THEY ARE THE CUTEST BFFs OF ALL THE BFFs.

AND MY SHIPS OMG YOU GUYS MY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPS. They each have so many great moments together and I JUST. I CAN'T WITH THE CAN'T AND THE FEEELS AND IF I DON'T GET FACE SMOOSHING IN BOOK 4 I WILL DIE FROM DROWNING IN MY OWN TEARS. I can't say anything too specific about them because SPOILERS but lets just say all my favorite moments involve late night phone calls, undrinkable teas, Pig and mint leaves and mountain drives and hands on knees and secret plots and The Barns and casual looks filled with practiced disinterest that is incomplete and shopping carts and churches and JUST MY FEELS CANNOT HANDLE HOW MUCH I NEED THESE SHIPS TO SAIL.

This book made me laugh and cry and scream OMG literally out loud and frantically text Nikki incessantly about all of the feels. GUYS THIS BOOK EVEN MADE ME FINALLY LOVE ADAM. He is finally starting to get it and grow up and now I just want to hug him. ALSO NEED MORE NOAH OKAY. These books never have enough Noah. So basically if you love gorgeous prose, amazingly developed characters, and shippy feels this book/series is for you.
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Second Star by Alyssa B Sheinmel
Second Star

Disquietus, September 29, 2014

This book was hugely disappointing. I still can’t even think about it without the potential for a rage blackout. Peter Pan is my absolute favorite childhood story, so if there is a book/movie/tv show/etc. retelling it, you best believe I am all over it. Imagine my delight when Second Star popped up on my radar. Even after being warned off by several bloggers I trust, my excitement remained. I just love Peter Pan shaped things a lot okay and tend to be pretty forgiving of them. Even if they are horrible (see Once Upon a Time’s Peter Pan storyline) I almost always end up enjoying them regardless of the bad. Unfortunately that was not the case with Second Star. This book was just a hot mess.

The only part of this novel I really enjoyed was the prose. It had the kind of gloriously atmospheric writing I usually happily drown myself in. While there were a few moments where I thought it came off as overly flowery and pretentious, for the most part it was all very beautiful and vivid. The author did an excellent job of setting the scene and making me feel like I was coasting through the southern California summer with Wendy. . My favorite scenes were the ones describing surfing, which made me really want to learn how to surf even though I am the most uncoordinated person in the world. She just made it sound so peaceful and joyful. However the total lack of characterization and horrible, horrible ending overshadowed the delight the writing brought me.

Character development basically non-existent in this novel, and on top of that, the characters are all just really unlikable. Wendy is INFURIATING. While I can definitely sympathize with her grief over the loss of her brothers, she just makes one bad decision after another and it was too much to handle. The other characters were barely memorable enough to mention. I don’t think I can name a single one beyond Pete, Jas and Belle. I know Wendy has a high-school BFF who infuriated me, basically only showing up occasionally to be a horrible friend, but I can’t remember her name to save my life.

As for the romance. I hate love triangles and this one was especially gross. While normally I am always Team Peter/Wendy, I couldn’t get on board with this ship at all. Pete claims to be in love with her but he clearly has no respect for her & her decision making abilities or really for any female in general. The way he treats Belle is reprehensible and he’s such a lying liar who lies with Wendy I can’t deal with it. As bad as he was, Jas (the drug dealer) was worse. He stalked Wendy (which naturally she just saw as him being “protective”), he was violent and gross. Just really really gross. To make it even worse Wendy gets a bad case of instalove with both. Within days of knowing Pete she is in “love” with him & then once she discover his betrayal she runs to Jas who she goes from hating to loving in about two days? Ummm yea how about no girl.

Many nonsensical, bad choices later we get to a twist that I oddly didn’t see coming although it was blatantly obvious. And okay, if the book ended there I could have gone with it, we would have been cool. But naturally it didn’t end there and we get to the real end of the book which in a nutshell made the entire book pointless. I’m not even kidding. The only thing I can guess is that the author couldn’t decide whether she wanted the twist ending or the ending we got so she decided to go with both. I may have actually screamed at the book once I finished and then broke down into hysterical craughing over all the time I wasted on it.

This was definitely not a book for me, nor one that I would ever recommend to anybody.

I received this book for free from the NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Second Star by Alyssa B Sheinmel
Second Star

Disquietus, September 29, 2014

This book was hugely disappointing. I still can’t even think about it without the potential for a rage blackout. Peter Pan is my absolute favorite childhood story, so if there is a book/movie/tv show/etc. retelling it, you best believe I am all over it. Imagine my delight when Second Star popped up on my radar. Even after being warned off by several bloggers I trust, my excitement remained. I just love Peter Pan shaped things a lot okay and tend to be pretty forgiving of them. Even if they are horrible (see Once Upon a Time’s Peter Pan storyline) I almost always end up enjoying them regardless of the bad. Unfortunately that was not the case with Second Star. This book was just a hot mess.

The only part of this novel I really enjoyed was the prose. It had the kind of gloriously atmospheric writing I usually happily drown myself in. While there were a few moments where I thought it came off as overly flowery and pretentious, for the most part it was all very beautiful and vivid. The author did an excellent job of setting the scene and making me feel like I was coasting through the southern California summer with Wendy. . My favorite scenes were the ones describing surfing, which made me really want to learn how to surf even though I am the most uncoordinated person in the world. She just made it sound so peaceful and joyful. However the total lack of characterization and horrible, horrible ending overshadowed the delight the writing brought me.

Character development basically non-existent in this novel, and on top of that, the characters are all just really unlikable. Wendy is INFURIATING. While I can definitely sympathize with her grief over the loss of her brothers, she just makes one bad decision after another and it was too much to handle. The other characters were barely memorable enough to mention. I don’t think I can name a single one beyond Pete, Jas and Belle. I know Wendy has a high-school BFF who infuriated me, basically only showing up occasionally to be a horrible friend, but I can’t remember her name to save my life.

As for the romance. I hate love triangles and this one was especially gross. While normally I am always Team Peter/Wendy, I couldn’t get on board with this ship at all. Pete claims to be in love with her but he clearly has no respect for her & her decision making abilities or really for any female in general. The way he treats Belle is reprehensible and he’s such a lying liar who lies with Wendy I can’t deal with it. As bad as he was, Jas (the drug dealer) was worse. He stalked Wendy (which naturally she just saw as him being “protective”), he was violent and gross. Just really really gross. To make it even worse Wendy gets a bad case of instalove with both. Within days of knowing Pete she is in “love” with him & then once she discover his betrayal she runs to Jas who she goes from hating to loving in about two days? Ummm yea how about no girl.

Many nonsensical, bad choices later we get to a twist that I oddly didn’t see coming although it was blatantly obvious. And okay, if the book ended there I could have gone with it, we would have been cool. But naturally it didn’t end there and we get to the real end of the book which in a nutshell made the entire book pointless. I’m not even kidding. The only thing I can guess is that the author couldn’t decide whether she wanted the twist ending or the ending we got so she decided to go with both. I may have actually screamed at the book once I finished and then broke down into hysterical craughing over all the time I wasted on it.

This was definitely not a book for me, nor one that I would ever recommend to anybody.

I received this book for free from the NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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A Barricade in Hell by Jaime Lee Moyer
A Barricade in Hell

Disquietus, August 15, 2014

Jaime Lee Moyer’s sequel to Delia’s Shadow is happily even more enjoyable than it’s predecessor. Returning to this world and these characters was just like visiting old friends. The mystery at the heart of the story was even creepier and more intriguing (child poltergeist? NO THANK YOU HARD PASS RUN AWAY WHILE YOU CAN) and the writing showed definitive improvement.

Moyer’s writing has a quiet, steady beauty that greatly appeals to me. In A Barricade in Hell she has crafted an excellent story with fascinating characters that gives the reader a glimpse into historical San Francisco in a way that made me feel as if I was there with the characters the entire time. The many plot threaders were seamlessly tied together with perfect pacing. Gone are the overwhelmingly detailed descriptions that I found difficult to push through while reading the first book. The dual POV still works very well for this series. Gabe and Delia have very distinct voices and the switch between is never jarring. This time around we have two separate mysteries we are trying to solve. On Delia’s end there is a poltergeist haunting her husband while Gabe in investigating a series of disappearances and murders possibly connected to a visiting evangelist. It was all very interesting and well put together.

If I had one wish for the plot though, it would be that I hadn’t solved it myself so early on. While there was one thing I didn’t connect until almost right before the characters did, I still figured out the rest of it way early. There is also a thing that happens in the end with Isadora and another character that I am still on the fence about. While I liked the end result, I’m not sure I like the way it came about, although it was definitely a likely thing to happen, historically (DOES ANY OF THIS MAKE SENSE I DON’T EVEN KNOW).

Really the only actual fault I could find with this book is that I struggle to connect with the characters. While the character development is excellent, and I like all of them just fine (especially Isadora because she is flawless), I just don’t connect with them in the way I normally hope to with the books I read. Delia is an admirable heroine. She’s smart and brave, but at times she’s just a little too quiet and passive for my tastes. She also seemed to be lacking a lot of the spirit and sass I admired in her from the first book, although there are reasons for this I think. I also greatly missed Sadie’s brightening presence in this book.

However, the fact that I enjoyed it as much as I did without being able to connect to the characters is really just a testament to the strength of the writing. 99% of the time my enjoyment of a novel is directly correlated to how I feel about/connect with the characters. Barricade is one of those rare unicorns that I enjoyed completely based on the strength of the writing and plot. I definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or mysteries and especially if you like both.

(I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
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Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Sekret

Disquietus, August 1, 2014

I went into Sekret fully expecting to fall head over heels in love. Part Sci-Fi, part historical fiction, featuring a unique premise about psychic Russian spies during the Cold War? YES PLEASE GIVE IT TO ME. Then make sure it leaves no impression on me whatsoever, because that’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, but it was unmemorable in every way. Except for maybe Valya. I love me some Valya.

I liked the beginning a lot, but once Yulia is captured and begins her psychic spy lessons the book takes a turn for the blah. The pacing is all over the place, and a lot of the plot felt like filler until it seemed like a reasonable time for the spies-in-training to start going on missions. And then once they started going on missions it was all rush, rush, rush. There were a few plot inconsistencies and the “big reveal” about the enemy spy they are supposed to be hunting was entirely predictable. Despite all this I did enjoy the novel for the most part, especially the ending.

The romance was by far my favorite part of the book, and what kept me reading. There is a bit of a love triangleish feel to it at first, but it’s pretty clear early on who the superior option is. *cough* Valya *cough*

The characterization was okay. I liked the variety in personalities, but I would have liked to know more of the secondary characters history and what motivates them. Yulia was naturally the most developed, but even she was problematic. Mostly because SHE IS SO DENSE. Early on she makes it clear that pretty much the only thing she cares about is her mom and little brother, which naturally means they are held captive by the KGB to make her cooperate. She also knows she’s living in a house full of spies who can read her mind, or whatever, and yet pretty much all she thinks about is how she’s going to escape. And this just makes no sense to me. I mean sure, maybe it’s natural to think about it initially, but when you know that thinking about it is putting your family in danger wouldn’t you, I don’t know, stop? Maybe I’m over-thinking it but it was one of those little things that just annoyed me in every instance.

Overall everything about Sekret was just average. It was just intriguing enough to ensure that I will probably read the rest of the books once the series is finished, but not memorable enough to make me need them.
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