The Raven Cycle Series

The Raven Boys

The Dream Thieves

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven King

By Maggie Stiefvater

dream

/drēm/

Noun

  1. a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.

verb

  1. experience dreams during sleep.
  2. contemplate the possibility of doing something or that something might be the cause.

 

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series forces the reader to think about dreams in a radically new way. Dreams are no longer something that only occurs when you’re sleeping. Dreams are no longer what you wish for your future. The characters relationship to dreaming is nothing like ours. Dreams become reality with the way that Stiefvater spins her literary magic; dreams are her words on the paper. The series follows the interconnected and tangled lives of Blue Sargent and her Raven Boys: Richard “Dick” Gansey III, Adam Parrish, and Ronan Lynch. The tale Stiefvater creates involves psychics, lay lines, mystical hidden Welsh kings, and endless possibilities.

The first book in the series The Raven Boys pulls the reader in with Stifvater’s unique way of writing. The way she writes cannot be boxed into a single descriptor. The point of view of the book is not written in first person perspective or second person perspective. It’s not an omniscient observer or even a single character perspective. It is constantly changing and jumping from little storyline to little story line that comes together to weave the big picture. Sometimes I found myself becoming frustrated with her way of writing. I wanted a clear understanding of one character and their perspective on what was happening around them. I’m happy that’s not what I received because the more I read, the more I found myself dreaming along with the characters. Once I got over the “strangeness” of the writing, I was able to follow its cadence. I followed its notes to the very end and rushed to begin reading the second book.

The Dream Thieves, the second book in the series, was not what I expected it to be. If the first book focused more on the character of Blue, then the second book was all about Ronan – my favorite character. The second book in the series finally answers many questions that come up in the first book. I won’t go into detail in order to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say Ronan plays a pivotal role in terms of dreams. The character development that occurs within this book is astronomical. The reader not only learns more of the background of each character but meets more of their family members. The reader finally begins to see a more holistic view of each character and the discoveries are immense. If you couldn’t already tell, I loved the second book. I devoured it in less than two days and moved straight into the third book.

Lily Blue, Blue Lily is the third installment in the series and Stiefvater just keeps the ball rolling. One second you think you know where the story is headed, and in the next second, she’s gone in an entirely different direction and thrown in a new character to boot. I thoroughly enjoyed all the twist and turns of the story and appreciated not being able to guess the ending. Too often when reading books or watching TV shows, if you pay close enough attention, you can predict the ending. That is not true with this series – it’s a roller coaster with hidden turns from start to finish.

The Raven King is the fourth and final installment in the series. Stiefvater ends the series like a beautiful symphony; all the players have made their entrance and had their solos. The crescendo has been reached and the final lingering note played. That single note keeps playing, letting the listener imagine what should come next. The ending is satisfactory yet allows for the continuation of dreaming. Stiefvater has dreamt this amazing world to life, but now it’s up to the reader to dream the rest. The Raven Cycle series is one of disbelief, vivid emotions, and endless possibilities. It is a dream made reality and whispers for you to never stop dreaming.

The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Rose. Poppy. Violet. Lily. Four exceptionally beautiful, pure, and innocent women. A family cultivated by Clover and seemingly perfect in every way. Excluding the fact that all four of these women were kidnapped, renamed, and are being held by Clover in the cellar beneath his home.

the-cellar-review

The Cellar by Natasha Preston follows the story of Summer, a feisty sixteen year old who lives in the boring old town of Long Thorpe, England where nothing exciting happens to anyone, until the day it happens to Summer. Violently abducted and shoved into her kidnappers hidden cellar, Summer is forced to become Lily. She’s thrust into Clover’s “family” along with Rose, Poppy, and Violet because in Clover’s mind he is saving his “flowers” from the corruption and filth that taints the world. He is their protector and deserves their gratitude for his noble work.

Preston writes The Cellar from the point of view of Summer, her boyfriend Lewis, and even her abductor Colin, better known as Clover. The change in perspective allows the reader to put themselves in the shoes of all involved, to try and understand each mindset and their emotional journey. The reader experiences the crushing fear and despair that consumes Summer. They experience the manic drive propelling Lewis in his search for the girl he loves. They enter the deranged and distorted reality of Colin and are able to glimpse the rational he uses to commit different actions and why he believes he’s doing the “right” thing. The way Preston switches between characters is masterful and allows the reader a chance to breath. If there weren’t the changes in perspective or flash backs to before Summer was taken, I know I wouldn’t have been able to finish the book. I felt an overwhelming sense of unease and terror as I read through Summer’s point of view. A pressure built up in my chest as I read through Summer’s fears and feared for her myself. The pressure continued building the longer I read and soon I felt like I was suffocating because although this is a fictitious book, it’s a sad reality of our world that things like this actually happen. The segmenting of the book allows for the reader to step back and remember that the book is a work of fiction. It’s okay to breath.

This book is captivating, exhilarating, and impossible to put down. When I did finish The Cellar, I felt very unsatisfied with the ending until I realized that there was going to be a squeal entitled You’ll Always Be Mine which I plan on starting today. This book will keep you with bated breath, wanting to cry and scream at the same time, and riding a wave of anticipation. If you want to be swaddled in rainbows and butterflies, this is not the book for you. If you find yourself horrified yet fascinated by the heinous acts of this world, this is the book for you.     

 

 

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done

A real life story of two high school girls entry into the male dominated world of computer coding. Andrea ‘Andy’ Gonzales and Sophie Houser’s personal narration of how they came to create their computer game Tampon Run and how it then went viral is encouraging to girls everywhere. Not only does the book serve as an inspiring example for young girls everywhere that they can achieve their dreams no matter the gender inequality they might face, but it illustrates that there is no one path to success. You can take your time, turn a curve or two, and still find your way. You don’t have to know from the time you’re in elementary school what you want to do with your life and that’s okay.

This book is raw, enlightening, and honest. Here are two, now young women, who followed their passions and it lead them to extraordinary places. What’s most refreshing about this book is that these girls didn’t get to where they are today without fear, insecurity, and doubt. The girls openly discuss how much pressure they put on themselves in high school to be the best. They were over involved, obsessed with grades, and their harshest critics were themselves.

I was that person myself in high school. The biggest difference between myself, Sophie, and Andy is that I went to a public all girls school that gave me the support and confidence that they received at the Girls Who Code summer program. No matter your political views on single sex education or gender inequality in the work place, I can say that I would not be the young woman I am today without the experiences I gained at my school. I face the same self-doubt Sophie talks about,but I have learned, just as she and Andy did, to ask for help. It was by asking for help that I finally found my passion in life. Books, literature, YA fiction. This is what I love and always have, it just took my reaching out for to help me realize my potential. I can not express how much I related with this book. An unflinchingly truthful account of what it’s like to be a teenage girl in the 21st century and trying to finding ones passion.

With that said the farther I read in the book, I found myself comparing. Comparing my own life’s journey to their’s and being jealous of them. I found myself feeling inadequate because these girls were two years or more younger than me and they had already accomplished so much. But then I stopped myself and said, “Don’t be intimidated by their success, allow it to empower you. Allow it to show you that you can follow your dreams, accomplish the impossible, and hopefully make a great change just like they did.” Really look to their story as an example and not as a means to judge yourself harshly.

Andy and Sophie had no clue what they were doing or what they were getting themselves into when they coded their game and that’s okay. They learned as they went, asked for help, and grew on so many levels. Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea ‘Andy’ Gonzales and Sophie Houser is a great read for young girls and boys alike. Especially as they complete their high school education and enter into higher education or the rest of their lives because as I said earlier, there is no one path to success and Andy & Sophie prove that.

Scythe DeGeneres

A world where humanity has achieved the unachievable — immortality. Death is no longer an inevitable truth that could ensnare you at a moments notice because death no longer exists. There is no war, no hunger, and no disease. Death is simply a vexation of past generations who didn’t have “nanite” technology that can dictate an individuals rate of metabolism, suppress emotions from raging wild, and instantly dull pain receptors and beginning healing ones body. Past generations didn’t have recovery centers that could take people with snapped spines or in any other state of “deadish-ness” and return them to perfect health in four days tops.

Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch live in this seemingly perfect world. They live in vastly separate humdrum lives, with little chance of intersecting, until one day Scythe Faraday sets their lives on a collision course. The Scythedom is the order of men and women who stand above all else. An entity who is above the law, held accountable to no one but themselves as they are charged with the job of “gleaning”. They are the only ones with the power to take life and are charged to do so in order to control the ever growing population. Citra and Rowan are taken on as Scythe Faraday’s apprentices in Neal Shusterman’s Scythe and their journey is far from anything you could expect.wordcloud

Fast moving, beguiling and through-provoking Shusterman engages the reader on every level. He creates a lexicon unique to the Scythe world and showcases his own impressive vocabulary without causing the reader to feel unintelligent. I’ll be honest – I had to look up many of the words and I mean MANY. At least fifteen, but I feel good about admitting that because I learned something. I not only added words to my vocabulary but realized how lax in my vocabulary I’ve become. The English language is so extensive and yet my generation is known for “Y.O.L.O.” and “lol”. I don’t want to fall in that pit fall of the “millennial generation”. The word cloud you can see above  contains words I noticed and loved in Scythe.

The book touches on current day issues of: morality, government, corruption, and human decency in a new way. More than anything I took away from Shusterman’s book a commentary on how our society is comprised of such deep felt emotions and how we try to suppress or enhance those emotions. Everyone from children to the elderly are consumed by depression, elation, anxiety, greed and everything in between. Shusterman’s world eliminates the nuisance of strong felt emotions with nanites that “subdue” them but the world he creates isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Taking emotion out of the equation isn’t the answer because without the ability to feel, how does one know they’re alive? If death were no longer a looming shadow, would their still be purpose?

” We can put things off far more effectively than those doomed to die, because death has become the exception instead of the rule. The stagnation that I so fervently glean on a daily basis seems an epidemic that only grows. There are times I feel I am fighting a losing battle against an old-fashioned apocalypse of the living dead.”

“What should I take away from your review?”, you ask  READ SCYTHE BY NEAL SHUSTERMAN!!!! I soaked up every word and can NOT WAIT for the next book in the series. Read. The. Book. Also comment and tell me what your scythe name would be! Tiny spoiler below because it must be said…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CITRA AND ROWAN ARE THE CUTEST WITH THEIR LAST LINES TO ONE ANOTHER!!!

“I love you,” he said.

“Same here,” she responded. “Now get lost.”

Who Died?

ocean-of-ink               Goldsburg, Virgina, in 1979, is your typical college town. Small, quaint, and turned into a near ghost town during the summer holidays. Goldsburg is the type of place that only has one movie theater, where the teenagers go hang out at McCoy Falls on the New River, and the locals leave their car doors unlocked; a trusting place. Not the type of place where the local “nice guy” gets murdered, but that’s exactly what happens to Christopher Goodman. Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan Wolf is narrated by six strikingly different voices, each adding to the overarching message while offering up individual lessons. Wolf does a beautiful job of keeping the reader intrigued by disrupting the timeline of the story. No character is static and Wolf masterfully uses the “universally assumed” high school stereotypes to surprise the reader. Knowing that the book is based on a true crime adds a scary realism to the book and makes you wonder, could this happen to me? Wolf tackles the idea of tragedy and grief in a true and eye opening way.

I’ve asked, “How could a thing like this happen?” many, many times throughout my life.  I am not a stranger to tragedies or hardship and yet Wolf’s book revealed a whole new perspective to me.

“I’m grieving the loss of what might have been.”

When someone dies, be they young or old, that’s time lost. Time you’ll never get to spend with them.  That’s a story you’ll never get to write together that must now go unfinished.

“But an ocean of ink couldn’t soothe my sadness.” 

I can find no better words than those above to accurately express the heartache I’ve felt when loved ones have passed away in my life. I could not set Wolf’s book down once I started because his words spoke too many truths. His word’s touched me too accurately. Thank you Allan Wolf for showing me new perspectives on life, death, and regret. Thank you for giving me the words to express the sadness that has filled my life at different points.

Who Killed Christopher Goodman? By Allan Wolf is a must read! I recommend it to everyone who has every questioned, “Why did this happen? How could it happen?”