Clairvoyance, and Riches, and Boys – oh my!

Do you hear that thumping? It’s the hype monster knocking at your door. It definitely knocked on my door after the release of The Raven King in late April. It seemed as though every blog and booktube account was talking about this series and the book.  Since it was everywhere I thought it’d give it a try. I started my adventure at the end of May and just finished The Raven King last week. I flew through Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King, but the first two books took significantly longer to finish reading. As you might have noticed from my review of the Chaos Walking trilogy, I like to review these series as one entity rather than individual books. However, in a lot of ways I think these books really could work as stand alones. In each book it seems as though Maggie Stiefvater goes to great trouble to reexplain characters and how they go to their place in the story. Because of this I will break down my review into a mini summary of each book.

The Raven Boys

This is the first installment of the Raven Cycle. This book is largely told from Blue Sargent’s narrative voice. I really enjoyed it, because I think that Blue has a great perspective, and I thoroughly enjoyed her sass. We also get the perspective of the “raven boys” Adam, Ronan, Gansey, and Noah – in varying lengths. The voice we get most often is that of Gansey. I thought this book was a lovely start to the series. I read it fairly quickly over the course of the week. Not being a big fantasy person, Stiefvater blends enough of “reality” into the story for skeptics like me.

The Dream Thieves

Holy fantasy. If the series started with this book, I definitely wouldn’t have finished. It took me eventually switching from physical form to audio book to actually finish this one. Blue’s voice is not nearly as present in this book, as she is written more as a side character. This is 100% Ronan’s story, which also may explain why he was absent from the first book. It was slow to get through, but left off on a cliff hanger that was pretty good. I liked that this book helped develop Gansey, Adam, and Ronan as characters. Noah was largely left out of this book. At the end, this book just wasn’t as good as the first book.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

You would think this story was about Blue, but it was really about Adam. Although we get back some of the Blue narrative, this is Adam’s story. This story was fantastical, but it also had a lot of adventure. I didn’t feel suspense at either of the first books, but I was very curious about what was going to happen to this cast of characters throughout the book. There were definitely some twists and turns I didn’t entirely expect. I flew through this book, even though I wish there was more Noah character development.

The Raven King

I know that there’s been a lot of talk on both sides about this ending. People have expressed concern over how neatly it was wrapped up. Others think it was the perfect ending to the series. I thought it was a pretty decent end. I think it’s hard to wrap up everything when you’ve spent 3 books unraveling it. There’s a little bit of Noah (my favorite if you couldn’t tell) in here that I like. However, Stiefvater added a  LOT of new characters in this book. And she told the story from almost everyone’s perspective. I thought it was a neat way to wrap up everything, but it was kind of annoying to have so many superfluous characters to try to remember.

Overall – I really enjoyed the series. The one thing I will say, is that I feel that I need to re-read this series already. In The Raven King especially, I had to keep going back because I didn’t understand how a certain character knew certain things. I don’t often feel like I need to re-read things, but I think I would get a lot of perspective by going through the books again. I give the series a 3.75 with The Raven Boys being my favorite booki n the series.

Until Next Time World…

Life is dramatic enough.

I recently received a galley of Tori Rigby’s book Because I Love You by netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I requested a copy of this book on a whim. I often forget about netgalley and was browsing to see if anything looked interesting. I was in the mood for some light YA, and this book seemed like it could be a good choice. I will admit that my version of light, might be very different from another person’s version of light. Below is the Goodreads description.

Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.

Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.

Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.

So I knew from the description that this book was going to be dramatic, but geez I didn’t know the author would take it to a new level. So I think a teenage girl finding herself pregnant and turning to her badboy ex is DRAMATIC. But no, this book is riddled with death, accidents, lies, token queer characters, abuse, financial insecurity, and so many other things that I can’t even mention from fear of spoiling the plot for all future readers. With the amount of things that happen to and around Andie, you’d think that this was an adventure novel.

The real issue that I have with this novel is that it blatantly pokes at the reality of some of the things that the characters are dealing with in the novel. Both of the main characters have lost their fathers in EXTREMELY tragic incidents. However, Rigby very nonchalantly has the characters brush over this very large incident that they have in common. The characters seem to have the attitude that sometimes parents just tragically die, then you move on. I think if that was the only grievance that this book had, I could get over it. One of the characters also suffers abuse that is just brushed over. The characters have a very close relationship with a police officer in the book, but instead of getting help for the parent or the abused child, it’s again just brushed off. I think this is particularly damaging when you could have teens reading this novel who are suffering from abuse. The message in this is that you just need to tough it out until you get older.

This book also touches on the troubles of financial insecurity. I was hoping that there would be time spend covering the many expenses of having a child. However, instead of any real in depth concerns about where money would come from or how Andie would provide for her child, a magic fairy sweeps in and pays for everything. There is a lot of talk of Andie getting a part time job to help pay for expenses, but that never comes to fruition throughout the whole book.

Overall, I think the story line had a lot of potential, but it fell way short on plot and character development. I think this novel could be very troubling to individuals who have triggers for abuse or struggle with financial insecurity. There is also nothing added by way of any kind of real diversity in this book. I gave this two stars on Goodreads. I wouldn’t recommend this book, but if you like watching train wrecks and really bad reality TV; then you might like this book?

 

Until Next Time World…

Can You Actually Learn Something from a Comic Book?

I’ve been trying to expand the type of things that I read. If you’ve kept up with my reading habits this year, you’ll know that I have been adding more graphic novel content. With a little help from the book community, my coworkers, and my local library, I’ve been able to read a couple of volumes that I’ve really liked. One of those volumes was the new Ms. Marvel, who is Kamala Khan. I think that there are currently 4 volumes out currently, with the 5th volume releasing in the US on July 12th of this month.

Kamala Khan is a 16 year old Pakistani-American, Muslim teenager in Jersey City, NJ. There is so much in that sentence that is exciting. First off – JERSEY CITY. One of my good friends in college was from Jersey City; so whenever I hear mention of it I just get good vibes. Plus Jersey City is SOOO Jersey I just can’t take it. (For those of you that are wondering, these thoughts are literally reserved for those who have spent time in the Mid-Atlantic section of the US.). Also, I love that Marvel didn’t just make her of “Middle-Eastern descent” because that’s wayyy to dismissive of the various cultures and identities that are salient to immigrants in the Northeast US. Since Islam is one of the big three religions, it makes sense that there would be a superhero that would ascribe to that religion.

Now that I’ve fangirled over the concept, is it actually any good? Yes. I really enjoyed the 3 volumes that I’ve read so far. As someone who’s not really into superheroes, comics, or fantastical elements – I think there’s enough in this comic to interest a lot of people. This comic is pretty neat, because it provides a very basic level of cultural education. Not being Muslim or Pakistani, I’m not entirely sure how accurate some of the words or concepts presented in the comic actually are, but I appreciate that they’re included. Instead of the writer just saying “Kamala goes to church.” or “Kamala puts on her traditional grab.” Kamala’s actions and specific cultural items or traditions are written about using appropriate language. For translations or definitions, there is a star for the reader to refer to at the bottom of the page or panel. I’m in love with that! I think that we often want things to be explained in ways that are easy for us to understand. Usually that means erasing cultural content or adding that content as a subnote. I enjoy that the cultural content isn’t hidden, and if the reader really wants to know what that means then they can go seek out the meaning.

So long story short- yes, I think that we can learn things from comic books. I have already learned some things from the new Ms. Marvel and I think that you potentially can too. If for nothing else, I would recommend picking up this comic book from your local library, because it’s important to see more diverse characters in the superhero world. It’s nice to see a teenager and a woman try to stay true to her family and culture, while using her powers for good.

 

Until Next Time World…

June Wrap Up 

June certainly flew by, faster than I expected anyway. I had a pretty ambitious TBR this month, and while I didn’t do terribly, I also got sidetracked by shiny books a lot. This basically means that I read a lot of books, but not all the books I said I was going to read. I also read a lot of comics/graphic novels this month. Don’t tell me I never try anything new!

Books…

  1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  2. Ladivine by Marie NDiaye
  3. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  4. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
  5. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
  6. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
  7. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  8. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  9. Illumine by Amie Kaufman
  10. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
  11. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  12. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  13. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
  14. The Royal We by Heather Cocks

I’m still reading A Little Life…but can you even call it reading when you’ve barely read a page all month? Also, since moving I realize how ridiculous my TBR shelf has become. In July I’m going to try to focus on getting down some of those books…so I can at least get more?

Comics…

  1. Lumberjanes, vol. 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson
  2. Dreamless by Bobby Crosby
  3. Giant Days, vol. 1 by John Allison
  4. Giant Days, vol. 2 by John Allison
  5. Lumberjanes, vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson
  6. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  7. Y: The Last Man, vol. 1: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan
  8. Ms. Marvel, vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
  9. Ms. Marvel, vol 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson

Since I’m apparently reading comics now, the red is just going to be the 5 things I enjoyed most this month.

Until Next Time World…