Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Glimpse Back in Time (#10): The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


A Glimpse Back in Time is a feature where I talk about the interesting history behind the books that I read! If you want to see previous posts for this feature, look here!

This week I'll be featuring The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater!


Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 18th, 2012
Pages: 409

Summary (from Goodreads):

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
 

If you are unfamiliar with this series, you probably don't know why the last Welsh Prince of Wales is important to the story. During the entire series, Gansey is on a quest to find the resting place of Owain Glyndwr so that he can wake him and receive a favor.

Owain Glyndwr was the last native Welsh person to hold the title of Prince of Wales. He was born sometime between 1349 and 1359 to a family of Anglo-Welsh nobility. His father was a prince of Powys Fadog and Lord of Glyndyfrdwy, a line of Welsh nobility that can be traced back to before the Norman conquest. His mother was also of noble birth.

After his father's death when he was around 11, he was fostered by Sir David Hanmer and followed his profession by studying law at the Inns of Court. He married Hanmer's daughter in 1383 and the following year fought for King Richard II against the Scots.

In 1399, Richard II was dethroned by Henry IV. Glyndwr got into a dispute with his powerful neighbor, Reginald Grey, over some land that Grey had stolen. The new king and Parliament wouldn't do anything about it and that was the spark that began the rebellion that Glyndwr led.

On September 16th, 1400, the Welsh revolt against Henry IV began. A group of Glyndwr's supporters proclaimed him the Prince of Wales. The revolt started off successfully. With the support of several hundred men, Glyndwr attacked every town in northeast Wales. There was an immediate response with Welsh scholars coming home from Oxford as well as Welsh laborers coming home from England.

Anti-Welsh legislation was quickly passed and Henry IV marched a big army across northern Wales, burning and looting everything. By the spring of 1401, Glyndwr's small army moved to center and south Wales. The rebellion began growing as hundreds of men ran to join the cause, many of them men of higher rank. Battles continued to rage and by the end of 1403 Glyndwr controlled most of Wales.

In 1408, several castles were taken by the king and Glyndwr's family was taken prisoner. He was once again an outlaw. Along with his son and several important captains, Glyndwr was at large throughout 1409, ravaging wherever he went. But ultimately, the rebellion failed. No one knows what happened to Owain Glyndwr. He just vanished. It is believed that he died in 1415. The new king, Henry V, offered pardons to the rebels twice, but neither were accepted.

No previous revolt or war in Wales lasted as long as Glyndwr's rebellion. It raged for over ten years and never really ended for fifteen. Harsh anti-Welsh laws remained in effect until 1485 when a Welshman took the throne. Owain Glyndwr is still an important symbol of Welsh independence.

Sources:



Have you read The Raven Boys? Did you know anything about Owain Glyndwr before reading this book or this post? I didn't know about him until this book!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on...


This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: October 10th, 2017
Pages: 352

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

At this point, I have still only ever read one Mindy McGinnis book. But I still want to devour everything she writes. All of her books sound so amazing!!

What books are you looking forward to this week?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Shadow by Colleen Oakes


Shadow by Colleen Oakes
Wendy Darling #3
Publisher: Sparkpress
Publication Date: July 18th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC

Summary (from Goodreads):

Wendy Darling has found herself once again in the arms of charming Peter Pan, the god-child who desires power above all things. This time, though, Wendy burns not with passion but with a secret: with Hook as her ally, she is there to defeat the evil that lies inside of Peter, the evil that holds all Neverland hostage: the Shadow.
To do this, Wendy must quietly undo Peter from inside his heart while at the same time convincing Tink to betray the twisted love that binds them together. This is a task made nearly impossible by the arrival of Booth, her sweetheart from London and a new pawn in Peter's manipulative game, a boy whose heart she must break in order to save his life. As all of Neverland prepares to fight, Wendy races to untangle Peter's connection to the Shadow, a secret long buried in the Forsaken Garden. When the time comes, pirates, mermaids, Lost Boys, and the Darling family will all rise, but if Wendy can't call the Shadow, they will all be destroyed by Peter's dark soul. War has come to paradise, and Neverland will never be the same. Wendy Darling: Shadow is the thrilling final installment in Colleen Oakes' Wendy Darling Trilogy."

Shadow by Colleen Oakes picks up right where Seas left off. Wendy has just returned to Pan Island armed with a plan that she and her ally, Captain Hook, came up with. She has to convince Peter that she still loves him so that she can steal his pipes. Then she has to get Tink to teach her the song to call the shadow from Peter so she can destroy it and save Neverland from the war that is brewing.

The plan gets altered a little bit when Wendy arrives back to Pan Island to discover that Booth, the boy from London that she loves, is Peter's prisoner. Now she has to get the pipes, the information she needs from Tink, Booth AND John and escape Pan Island.

I want to say that this is probably my favorite installment in this series. I don't remember a lot about what has gone on in the previous books, but this book seems to have the highest stakes and the most action. If Wendy's plan doesn't work, she stands to lose everything. Her brothers, the boy she loves, the Lost Boys she has come to love, and any chance she might ever have to make it back home to London.

Wendy is as brave as ever in this book. She is determined to save Neverland, and even Peter. She puts herself in harm's way over and over again for these people that she barely knows.

Through this whole series I have pretty much hated John. But I loved that he and Wendy kind of repaired their relationship in this book. Even if he is a brat, he's still Wendy's little brother and she loves him. He's still kind of a brat in this book, but you understand his feelings more and I didn't actually hate him in this one.

Booth is a character that we haven't really since since Wendy was taken from London in book one. I really like Booth and I really like Wendy and Booth together. But I felt like their relationship in this book was too easy. 

John flies back to London and kidnaps Booth, brings him to Neverland where Peter holds him prisoner and he has to watch Peter and Wendy be all lovey-dovey and listen to Wendy say such horrible things about him. Then he pretty much just accepts her apology and explanation at face value? I just feel like there should have been more work involved to make their relationship work again.

Something else I would have liked in this book would have been more interaction between Wendy and Captain Hook and his crew. I feel like their reunion left a lot to be desired for me after all that they went through together in book two. I don't know. I just felt like there could have been more with the pirates.

Then we have the ending. It isn't a bad ending. There's nothing wrong with it, it isn't disappointing. I just don't know how I feel about it! Nothing that happened is totally unexpected from this story, but it isn't really a happy ending. I feel like after everything that happened to EVERYONE in this story, they should have gotten at least a semi-happy ending!!

Overall, I really enjoyed this series. It had a fun twist on a classic fairytale. If you're a fan of Peter Pan, I think that you would like this series. If you like pirate stories you would probably like this series as well.

Have you read the Wendy Darling series? What did you think of it? What's your favorite Peter Pan retelling?


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm looking forward to...


All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 10th, 2017
Pages: 320

Summary (from Goodreads):

Here is a thing everyone wants:
A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.


Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.

After finally reading The Raven Boys series (and absolutely ADORING it), I am so excited for this! It doesn't really sound like something I would normally read, but neither did The Raven Boys so I'm hopeful that this will end up being an unusual favorite for me.

What books are you looking forward to this week?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser


Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
Song of the Current #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Publication Date: June 6th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Purchase
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 373

Summary (from Goodreads):

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mar
k.

I feel like it has been entirely too long since I found a book that I couldn't put down. Song of the Current was that kind of book for me. I am absolutely in LOVE with all of these books coming out with badass, sea-faring ladies! This book delivered all the scalawags I could have ever wanted!

Caro finds herself on a mission to deliver some important cargo from Hespera's Watch to Valonikos. After refusing it himself, her father ended up being locked up for smuggling, so Caro agreed to deliver it in exchange for his release. She takes the crate of mysterious cargo and her frogman, Fee, and hit the river. She quickly finds herself being hunted down by a group of fearsome pirates known as the Black Dogs.

Wanting to know what she was risking her life to deliver, Caro opens the crate to find a boy. A courier on his way to deliver an important message to Valonikos.

Caro was such a fun heroine. She's kinda sassy with a no nonsense attitude. She doesn't put up with a lot of crap. She has spent her whole life waiting to hear the river god call on her as he has on generations of Oresteia wherrymen. But at 17, she has pretty much given up any hope of the river god calling on her. Not that she needs his favor, she is a perfectly capable wherryman all on her own.

Tarquin, the courier sent from Akhaia to Valonikos to deliver a message, was a good character too. Caro suspects that he's keeping secrets. I liked him as a character. I feel like it took me a minute to grow to like him though. I don't know, I feel like his development wasn't super smooth? Like in the beginning he comes off as spoiled and then the next thing you know, he's just not?? I don't know if he's supposed to be putting on some kind of act or maybe that's just how quickly Caro's opinion of him changed, but it felt a bit off to me.

I liked the romance in this book. It's a hate-to-love kind of thing. Caro and Tarquin can't stand each other when they first meet. Tarquin is mostly just spoiled and useless and Caro wishes that she could stuff him back into his enchanted box, but she can't. Then they start to understand each other more and tell each other the truth and they grow on each other.

This book is pretty much nonstop action, so it's really easy to get drawn into it. I really enjoyed all the relationships in this book. Between Caro and her father, her wherry, Tarquin, Fee, I loved it!

Like I said, the only thing that I think I didn't like was the development of Tarquin because it didn't feel smooth.

Overall, I loved this book. It's definitely a favorite of 2017! This is kind of a junky review, but darn it, it's hard to write reviews of books I love because I just want to spell it all out for you and that's just not how it works. If you liked Daughter of the Pirate King, you will probably like this one as well!

Have you read Song of the Current yet? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting for...


Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Stalking Jack the Ripper #2
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Pages: 432

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

I adored Stalking Jack the Ripper so much! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this one! I hope it's just as gruesome and amazing as book one was! I'm excited to see Audrey Rose and Thomas take on Vlad the Impaler!!

What book are you looking forward to most this week?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White


Now I Rise by Kiersten White
The Conqueror's Saga #2
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 27th, 2017
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Trade
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 496

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Now I Rise was a little bit of a rough read for me. While I did enjoy And I Darken last year when I read it, I found it to be a bit slow and boring. I felt much the same way about Now I Rise.

This book alternates chapters between Lada and Radu. In the beginning, Lada is terrorizing Transylvania for revenge against a man who promised to be her ally and then sent an assassin after her. She has no means to accomplish her ultimate goal of taking back Wallachia. So she is just kind of floating for a little bit until she starts to investigate some new leads to gain allies.

Lada's chapters were my favorite. She is just as vicious and determined as ever. She is on a path and that path is only going to end with her on the Wallachian throne. She will cut down whoever she needs to in order to get there.

One thing I remember thinking about Lada in the first book was that I wanted to see a more human side of her. Like, I thought it was really unrealistic that she had no feelings besides rage. I definitely thought she was more human in this book. She was still ruthless and cold, but she had OTHER FEELINGS and I loved it.

Radu's chapters on the other hand, I had to REALLY force myself to read in the beginning. I wanted to start skipping/skimming them so badly. I'm glad I didn't because while I think that this book is long, there really isn't anything unnecessary in it. I would have missed something probably.

Mehmed is still set on taking Constantinople as his capital. While he prepares to start war with the city, he sends Radu inside to get information and turn the tides in their favor. In the city, Radu meets many new people that he grows to care for and respect. He's really torn about what he is supposed to be doing, but he really wants to impress Mehmed. 

The most infuriating things about Radu's chapters in the beginning was the fact that they were entirely about his feelings for Mehmed with a little bit of plot/story thrown in. I didn't really care for Mehmed when I started, but I absolutely hated him by the end because I was so sick of hearing about Radu's unrequited feelings for him. I GET IT, RADU! Until the siege started, Radu's chapters were so boring, I was really struggling to want to keep reading.

The siege on Constantinople and how Radu felt so torn between his loyalty to Mehmed and his new friends in the city were so much more interesting than his love for Mehmed. When it started to focus more on those things, his chapters started to feel a lot more readable.

The romance in this book mostly consisted of both Dracul siblings pining after Mehmed. Both of them have strong feelings for him. While Radu's feelings are unrequited, Lada's aren't so much. But she's too in love with Wallachia to go running back to Mehmed. Radu started to develop feelings for someone in Constantinople that I really hope can go somewhere in the next book. I don't think it's super promising at this point, but dang it, I'm sick and tired of hearing about Mehmed.

So overall, this book was mostly slow and boring, but I am invested in the Dracul siblings and I want to see where they end up when this series ends.

Have you read this series yet? What did you think of it?