Crimson Shore – Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

•December 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

crimson shore

Synopsis

A secret chamber.

A mysterious shipwreck.

A murder in the desolate salt marshes.

A seemingly straightforward private case turns out to be much more complicated-and sinister-than Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast ever could have anticipated.

Pendergast, together with his ward Constance Greene, travels to the quaint seaside village of Exmouth, Massachusetts, to investigate the theft of a priceless wine collection. But inside the wine cellar, they find something considerably more disturbing: a bricked-up niche that once held a crumbling skeleton.

My Thoughts

Do you ever get that feeling, after reading a book, where you kind of stumble around in a haze because you aren’t 100% sure that what you just read is actually what you just read? Yeah. This book did that to me. It wrecked me totally and completely. And I loved every moment.

Crimson Shore is book #15 in the Pendergast series, and it’s a series I’ve been reading since I was in high school. My dad introduced me to this series, and now we read the books together as best as we can, seeing as we live in different provinces. These books are a big part of me. And they have never once left me disappointed.

Pendergast and Constance, both just as enigmatic as they are pragmatic, dive into a case with cautious gusto and uncover far, far more than they ever bargained for. Pendergast is grace and shadows, sometimes a little too unreal. But he has his very human moments – like not knowing what Google is, let alone how to use it. Constance is a very grim, Victorian sort of sarcastic, lending to an almost old-fashioned sort of characterization. And then she teaches Pendergast how to use Google. They’re a very balanced sort of complimentary. It’s truly, truly wonderful.

This mystery is set in an idyllic small New England town, where the secrets are just as old as the family names that are lauded with undeserved esteem. In usual Pendergast fashion, so many little pieces fit together in just the right manner. For a split second, we may think we figured it out. And then we’re thrown for a major loop. As all the loose ends are tied, it all comes together like a neat and tidy braid.

After 15 books, Pendergast’s methods – the one’s he’s painstakingly teaching Constance – still leave me befuddled. He does the most eccentric things that don’t make any semblance of sense at the time. But, one must remember that Pendergast never does anything by accident. His every move, word, and action is deliberate and carefully planned. It just might take a little time for that to become clear.

It didn’t take much time at all for me to get completely enthralled with this book. I couldn’t put it down to save my life. It is carefully crafted to leave you begging for more while pondering (sometimes out loud, much to my partner’s chagrin) just what the bloody hell is going on. Oh, and of course the cliffhangers.

THE CLIFFHANGERS. (Okay, I think I’m composed now.) By the end of this book, I was a wreck. Mentally and emotionally, this book destroyed me. I have too many questions and very few answers. I have a dreadful suspicion as to where the next installment will take me. If my suspicion is correct, the next book may very well leave me in a very similar state as this one.

There’s only one way to find out.

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The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater

•December 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

the raven king

Synopsis

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

My Thoughts

There are very few occasions in which I finish something, and then want to start it all over again. Not because it’s over and I want more. More because I want to experience the adventure over again, see things I may have missed, take my time, and see things I know anew. The Raven Cycle is just such a series that inflicts these feelings in me.

Everything about this book is restless and urgent. It crawls under your skin and settles. You have to keep going, keep moving, continue forward. Forward means something different to everyone, and the inherent okayness of that is brilliant.

What I love most is that the ending is open, and mildly bitter-sweet. Nothing is wrapped up in a pretty bow and presented on a silver platter. No, instead there are questions and queries. I love the questions and queries. But most of, it’s magic.

Magic is woven into the fabric of reality – of everyone’s lives – so intricately, I can’t remember reading about a time where there wasn’t any magic in Henrietta. It simply is. And it doesn’t have to be a secret!

I can certainly see why this series has gained the following and reputation it has. It can affect anyone in so many different ways. I know it’s definitely affected me.

And the best part? Through everything these teens have been through, the most important thing is their friendship, and how in love they all are with each other. It’s inevitable. It’s just how things were supposed to be. It’s perfect.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater

•December 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

blue lily lily blue

Synopsis

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

My Thoughts

If The Dream Thieves explored the foundations of friendships, Blue Lily, Lily Blue explores introspection. After the events of the previous book in the series, everyone is left a little bit affected and changed. They all have to re-learn not only themselves, but each other. It’s a bit of a harsh learning curve, but a necessary one.

Blue is thrown for a major loop, starting her senior year with more unknowns than anything else. She’s searching for her own purpose in the search for Glendower, as well as a future that will make her happy. Things are still a little tense between her and the raven boys, but she’s established that she isn’t going anywhere.

Oh, and this whole salty BFF thing she has going on with Ronan? Yeah. I need more of that. All of that. I love their relationship so much. Ronan will never admit it, but his soft spot for Blue shows more and more as the book progresses – which is a major change from how he treated her in The Raven Boys. This progress makes me so happy, I could squeal! (I’m fairly sure I actually did, at one point during one of their sassy interactions, make an inhuman noise that startled my cat. Whoopsidoodles?)

It’s becoming more and more clear that they’re all running out of time, and the hunt for a Welsh king is coming to a head. Peaceful little Henrietta is anything but. There are so many people – most of whom are major bad news – after whatever keeps Henrietta so powerfully mystical, whether it’s the ley line or anything else.

These magnificent, glorious, magical teens have their work cut out for them. Honestly, I’m a little afraid for the ending, but not because I think it’ll be a bad ending. No, I’m certain The Raven King will end exactly as it should, and it’ll feel more than satisfactory. What I’m nervous about is how much it’s going to hurt to get there.

One final note – I very rarely make predictions or assumptions about how a book, or series, will end, or what’s to come in the next installment. I’d very much like to keep this spoiler free, so please don’t tell me if I’m right or wrong! The entire point of the adventure is to find out for myself. Thank you!

The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

•November 15, 2017 • 4 Comments

the dream thieves

Synopsis

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

My Thoughts

As with The Raven Boys, I don’t really think I have anything new to add to the overall discussion of The Raven Cycle series, but I’d like to add my thoughts anyway.

I love the focus on Ronan in this book. With this book, we get background, back stories, and build up. Something big is happening in Henrietta. But first, Ronan has a few things that he needs to take care of.

As he comes to terms who who he is – and what he is – Ronan softens a little. He’s less caustic with Blue, and teases her with more care and fondness. Blue, of course, gives back just as good as she gets.

Ronan’s vocabulary is vast and multi-lingual. (Which reminds me, I need to brush up on my French.) I need a dictionary in order to fully comprehend this book. Which is a good in an interesting way. Not only am I improving my own vocabulary, but I’m learning more and more about Ronan the more new words I learn.

What makes this book so fantastic to me is the ferocious focus on friendships and relationships. Blue has found a place she wants to belong. She’s found a family adjacent to 300 Fox Way. She wants nothing more than to be part of The Gansey. And each one of the boys needs her in their own ways.

The search for Glendower is fast hitting it’s climax, and these kids – because they are still kids, no matter how many fancy words Gansey tries to use to convince us otherwise – are headed for the adventure of a lifetime. Hopefully, they make it through the other side mostly still in tact.

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

•November 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The Raven Boys

Synopsis

“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.

My Thoughts

A lot has already been said, discussed, talked about, and mentioned about this book series. And I understand why, so far it’s a really great series! I don’t really think I have anything new to add to this discussion, but I’d like to share my thoughts anyway.

I was in a major reading slump a couple months ago, and these books brought me out of it. The Raven Boys sets the stage for a mystical adventure-mystery. There is so much history and mythology to unpack, it’s incredible. I think this book taught me more about Welsh history than any history course I took in university. What I love most about this book is the dynamics of all the relationships.

All of these relationships are so fascinatingly intricate, as they should be. The foundations between Blue and her raven boys are based on building friendships – and maybe a little bit more. Blue is a force to be reckoned with. She is self-assured, feisty, and spunky. All of the boys are important to her in such different ways. They’re just as much a part of her as she is of them.

Adam, Gansey, Ronan, and Noah make up her raven boys. Where Gansey goes, the others are sure to follow. Not because Gansey is a leader of a pack, but because they’re all naturally drawn to each other in one way or another.

Adam desires the freedom he perceives Gansey to have, while relying on Gansey’s unwavering emotional support. Ronan – angry, angst-ridden, mourning Ronan – desires something bigger, yet at the same time simpler, than the entitled world Aglionby has to offer. Noah wants them all to have their own happy-ish endings.

Blue and her raven boys embark on one hell of an adventure. Where mystic and magic simply exist and are accepted as fact in their group. They all have things to discover along the way, but they need each other to get there.

The Sweet Far Thing – Libba Bray

•November 6, 2017 • Leave a Comment

the sweet far thing

Synopsis

It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances.

Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds. The Order – the mysterious group her mother was once part of – is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

My Thoughs

Oh man, what a finale to a trilogy. The Sweet Far Thing offers a brilliantly wrapped up bitter sweet ending to a mystical trilogy about a girl trying to find her place in the world – a world which keeps telling her who they expect her to be.

Like most coming of age stories, and most teenagers in general, we’re all just trying to find a place to fit, somewhere to belong. Gemma has longed for this since arriving at Spence, and it’s greatly impacted some of her decision making. But she has changed – or is in the process of changing. Where she once fought tooth and nail to appease everyone around her, she’s now making tough decisions. And if that means pissing people off, well, that continues to make her uneasy, but she holds steady to her convictions. Gemma isn’t going down without a fight.

Boy howdy, Gemma is a bloody fighter. She faces her anxieties head on, and charges forward. By the mid-point of this book, Gemma has hit her bullshit meter limit, and is more or less done trying to play by the rules – rules being imposed on her by morons, I might add. She figures herself out, fights back, and delicately rolls her eyes at anyone who finds her contrary.

While the realms are still in peril, Gemma has to prepare for her debut into society. For a seventeen year old girl, that’s quite a lot to handle. While book two got a little daunting with the social graces and what not, book three shifts that focus more onto Gemma’s disenchantment with it all. She can’t be bothered while magic is running amok. Gemma does acknowledge that a social debut is important for some of the Spence girls, but she’s realizing that a difference in priorities isn’t always a bad thing. She’s growing up, and that’s a very good thing.

Gemma makes hard decisions this book – about her friends, the realms, and her life. She asks herself, and those around her, very difficult questions. She comes to terms with her own answers, and chooses to do what she sees fit for herself. She fights for it. She earns it. Society is changing, and she wants to change with it – with or without the support of her family or peers.

Her relationships change a lot in this book, mostly for the better. Watching her interact with Kartik is a delight in this book. She finally admits – to both Kartik and herself – how much she truly wants him, and she makes it happen. And it’s glorious.

The Sweet Far Thing is bitter sweet in its completion. All loose ends are tied, and for the most part things are set right. Gemma’s attitudes and decisions by book’s end reflect the historical social shift of the late 1890s. This finale seems to embrace change – the good and the bad. And it gives us hope. Hope that change isn’t always a large, looming cloud of fear and anxiety. Hope for better things. Hope for a peaceful future.

Rebel Angels – Libba Bray

•October 11, 2017 • 3 Comments

rebel angels

Synopsis

Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain…

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

My Thoughts

With as much promise as the first installment of this trilogy had, part two falls a wee bit dry for me. While there is drama galore to keep things moving forward, much of the drama revolves around traipsing through English society.

Gemma meets a seemingly lovely gentleman (Victorian England’s version of the “nice guy”), must be seen and act accordingly around all the “proper” people, and most important of all she must not under any circumstances be anything other than what is expected of her. Was it important to the overall plot and character growth? Absolutely. Did I find it rather boring? Also absolutely. The politics of society ladies is just not my thing. To be fair, it seems it isn’t Gemma’s either.

Gemma is stuck somewhere between being a proper lady, and needing to free herself of her imposed expectations and properly mend the damage done to the realms. She works overtime trying to find Circe and keep both her family and friends pleased with her. It’s a delicate balancing act.

Gemma is not all that good at balance – but what sixteen year old is? She’s barely just grasped proper etiquette and manners befitting a proper English lady. And now she’s tasked with – essentially – saving the realms. It’s a lot for anyone to handle. Gemma does it with as much grace as she can, often proving wiser than anyone expects her to be.

This is where I have to remember that being sixteen in 1896 is VERY different than being sixteen in the 21st century. Teenagers were more or less expected to be grown adults, and act accordingly with barely any time to go through puberty let alone mature emotionally and psychologically. The pressure is a brick wall that Gemma keeps running into.

Slowly and surely, Gemma stands her ground more often than not – she puts herself first in some cases (how utterly unthinkable!) and does what needs doing, even at the risk of, well, pissing everyone else off.

The pieces of the puzzle start fitting themselves together with the arrival of a new teacher at Spence. Gemma, paranoid and suspicious due to her circumstances (if not by virtue of her personality) is immediately on edge. And rightly so. Time and again, Gemma proves that her instincts are quite spot-on, even if she can’t quite grasp the initial reasoning. This teacher proves to be wholly untrustworthy and dangerous. Gemma putting her in her place is one of the best moments of the book.

By the book’s end, Gemma has grown and matured almost beyond her years, and is so much stronger for it. She has very clear goals, and knows what she must do in order to accomplish them – the Order, the Rakshana, and Circe be bloody damned. Things are changing, and Gemma is set to watch them change. And her first step – changing things with Kartik.

There are a couple steamy moments between the two – very brief, yet charged. Gemma needs Kartik in ways I don’t think she realizes yet. He is, first and foremost (in her mind) her friend. As such, he is necessary, and welcome, in her plans and goals. The finale of this trilogy is going to be explosive – and I can’t wait to watch all the rubble fall.