Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle Book 2) by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle Book 2) by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater….what to say, what to say?
Oh just that it is awesome, even better than the first book in the series (or at least just as strong) and if you haven’t picked up these books yet, you without a doubt should do so as soon as possible. Somehow, Stiefvater manages to balance the story of the ley lines and Glendower from the previous novel with wicked new twists. This book still picks up the burgeoning love triangle between Gansey/Blue/Adam, but focuses on Ronan (who has discovered a new talent for making items from dreams corporeal) and a hit man with a heart who has unknowingly come to “collect” Ronan (who he thinks is an object rather than a person): Mr. Gray. And Stiefvater balances all of this with such grace. Everything from the tension between Ronan and Kavinsky to the vivid scene of Blue finally telling Adam the truth, to the descriptions of Henrietta (Virginia), to the trees that speak Latin, to the hit man who is obsessed with Anglo-Saxon poetry (and recites it in the original language) is written flawlessly. Every sentence packs a punch. The writing is so tight, memorable, and complex (but in a good way). With the second book, Stiefvater has solidified this as one of my favorite new series of books and I will be eagerly awaiting the next!

I would also like to throw this out there: this is not an easy reading, run-of-the-mill dystopian-mixed-with-something-else, rushed-plot YA novel that often seems to be the stereotype of YA that I encounter when speaking to adult readers who won’t read YA. But this is exactly the sort of novel that proves that YA can display the same sort of mastery and deliver the same sort of enjoyment as engaging in a novel marketed towards adults. Perhaps it is even above the level of mastery that I see in some novels I have read marketed towards my age group (twentysomethings). It is just my personal pet peeve to see this sort of prejudice applied to YA Lit. Especially when books like The Dream Thieves exist and prove it so, so wrong.

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September 25, 2013 · 10:52 pm

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Since Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series has been around for awhile, and is now a movie out in theaters, I will skip on writing a synopsis. Suffice to say, this is a story about discovering identity and unique talents, learning that the world is not the place you thought it was, and learning that your parents are not the people you thought they were. Basically the premise for MANY a YA fantasy novel. And yet, I did enjoy the world of the Shadowhunters, Jace and Clary’s snarky remarks toward each other, and the motorcycles that run on demon energy. Clare’s strength, at least in this first novel, is not so much in the world building as it is in the complexity of the characters’ relationships. Also, the use of the close third person narration is refreshing since YA is often inundated in first-person narrators. There was also quite a bit of literary allusion in this novel– from the epigraphs at the beginning of each section to the Oscar Wilde quote. I enjoyed the allusions as well as the implications they gave to the characters.
For those that enjoy a healthy dose of Urban Fantasy, I would recommend City of Bones alongside Holly Black’s Tithe as well as the more light-hearted Glimmerglass by Jenna Black.

And, since I always posted a pic of Jon Snow with my Song of Ice and Fire reviews, I will post now post a pic of Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland with my Mortal Instruments posts (I’ll be reading the next two books in the series and stopping there).

What I want for Christmas (and I'm not talking about the sword...)

What I want for Christmas (and I’m not talking about the sword…)


Now I’m just going to tell y’all (yes I’m from Texas, we say that when stuff’s about to get super serious), I was never really attracted to Jamie Campbell Bower in his other roles. But, excuse my French, HAWT DAMN did he do a great job as Jace! I thought he pretty much owned the character and, well…yeah.
Also, SO glad they kept the Jace quote about occasionally rejecting himself to keep things interesting in the movie….it’s just….so Jace.

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September 18, 2013 · 12:54 am

Animal Personalities in Fantasy Novels

Animal Personalities in Fantasy Novels

This summer I completed two fantasy series, The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Chima’s series is YA and Martin’s is adult. After reading these two series, and having been an avid fantasy (YA and otherwise) reader for many a year, I have really begun to notice the tropes and the novelties of the genre (my favorite genre, and the genre I write fiction in myself). One of the major similarities I’ve really begun to notice and think about is the use of animals to denote character personality traits.
In the Harry Potter series, the four Hogwarts Houses each have an animal to symbolize the key traits of that House (Slytherin, the serpent, accepts students for their “cunning”). As an added bonus, wizards and witches of the Harry Potter world can cast the patronus charm. If it is a corporeal patronus, it will manifest as an animal that has personality traits or great significance tied to the character (for instance, the meaning in Severus Snape’s doe patronus).
believe it or not, this is my desktop background! I love me some lions. House Lannister: Hear me roar!!!!
These animal symbols often aren’t just symbols for the characters to wear on a patch or signs for them to display (such as the House sigils in A Song of Ice and Fire). These assigned animals often manifest themselves in the story and play a great part in the characters’ lives: for example, Raisa (of the Gray Wolf Throne) can see the prophetic gray wolves who are her ancestors, sworn to protect her by giving her warnings.
wolves
Another example would be the significance of Shae constantly calling Tyrion “My lion” (of the Lannister’s sigil), Daenarys’ ability to hatch three (real, non-sigil) dragons from stone, and the serpent Nagini which Voldemort uses as a final horcrux.
dragons
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. While I’m sure there is already criticism on this, I think comparing the use of animal personalities in these three series specifically would make for a fascinating paper topic one day. Obviously, these are just loose thoughts and I still have a long way to go before making any major assertions. What animal do you think represents your own personality the most? Post these and any thoughts you might have on this subject–I’d love to hear what you guys think!

My animal is a lion: that makes me House Lannister and Gryffindor. Hear me roar!
gryffindor

(Ps. Just FYI, I was actually asked the question “What animal represents your working personality” in an interview when I was trying to get a job at a clothing store in a mall in high school. My humor was lost on the interviewer when I answered “An animal that can fold sweaters quickly!” I didn’t get the job, but no love lost there…I soon was hired at a bookstore, much more my speed)

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September 10, 2013 · 9:59 pm

Reboot by Amy Tintera

Reboot by Amy Tintera

Reboot by Amy Tintera (a Texas native!) is the story of Wren, a girl who was dead for so long (178 minutes) after being shot that they thought she wouldn’t “reboot.” Wren’s world is a horrifying post-apocalyptic Texas where those who catch a certain virus will just “reboot” back to life once they’ve died. However, they don’t just come back to life perfectly restored–Reboots have lost some of their humanity in the process, and the longer a Reboot is dead, the less human they seem when they wake up. A less than friendly corporation called HARC takes these children who have “rebooted” and trains them to be soldiers, as most of society believes Reboots to be heartless monsters. Wren’s virtually emotionless existence is challenged, however, by her new trainee Callum: a seemingly hopeless case who was only dead for 22 minutes.

I found Reboot to have an interesting idea of a future world where humans try to use zombies as their soldiers. I also found it interesting that the setting was a futuristic Texas. Indeed, it made me wonder where the rest of the United States went to–as Texas is the only place Wren seems to be aware of. Perhaps more information will be delivered to us in the sequels. I enjoyed Reboot and think this story would be appealing on many different levels: there’s romance, humor, zombies, action, and dystopia (the latest fad in YA Lit). However, I have to say that I think the first person narrator here might have been a mistake. So many YA novels use the first person–I think it is really becoming a trope of the genre. However, for a character such as Wren–who is not fully human–I think perhaps close third person might have worked better, especially when she subtly begins remembering more of her past and feeling more human as she is falling in love.

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September 5, 2013 · 5:05 pm