Thursday, July 2, 2015

Six Months of Books -- Mid-year Review

The beginning of this year I told myself and the world that I wouldn't be buying any books. I wanted to work on what I owned, that towering to be read pile in my bookshelves, and it would also be worth saving money so that I could apply my book money to other things.

If you follow my Instagram at all, you'll know this didn't happen. I've had my friend in California sending me books which I have devoured and then I've been a fiend when it comes to getting books onto my Kindle. With traveling to Florida in May, it was my preferred way of bringing books while managing limited space in my luggage. But I also just really enjoy buying books. It's an addiction, I suppose. I feel better when I buy books and I find pleasure in visiting book stores. But I have come a long way, there have been a few book store visits in the past number of months that haven't included book buying. I've finally reached a point where I can go to a book store and not feel I have to buy a book.

Still, books were bought and read over the past (first) half of the year. I have a goal of reading 52 books in the year 2015 and to have read 100 books by the time I turn 30 in one year. Upon this posting, I've read 25 books toward my 2015 goal and 51 toward my 30th birthday goal (I began that goal about a year ago).

So from January to the end of June, what have I been up to?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Quiet by Susan Cain
Paper Towns by John Green
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Shadows on My Heart by Lucy Rebecca Buck
The Wolves of Mercy Falls Books 1-3 by Maggtie Stiefvater
Love and Misadventures by Lang Leav
Lullabies by Lang Leav
The Raven Cycle Books 1-3 by Maggie Stiefvater

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Quiet by Susan Cain
Paper Towns by John Green
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Shadows on My Heart by Lucy Rebecca Buck
The Wolves of Mercy Falls Books 1-3 by Maggtie Stiefvater
Love and Misadventures by Lang Leav
Lullabies by Lang Leav
The Raven Cycle Books 1-3 by Maggie Stiefvater
You Have to Fucking Eat by Adam Mansbach
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Shape of My Heart by Mark Sperring
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkein

Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
True Refuge by Tara Brach
Taking Woodstock by Elliot Tiber
Joy in the Morning by Betsy Smith
Dancing with Mr. Darcy
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull
The Circle Cast; The Lost Years of Morgan le Fay by Alex Epstein
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
The Poetry of Lang Leav by Lang Leav

And there are more book reviews coming! I begin graduate school next month but I still intend to post. So, stay tuned for more reviews.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wanderlust Wednesday: Colonial Williamsburg

Where: Williamsburg, Virginia
When: Fourth of July weekend, 2014

I come from a family filled with female cousins and was one of the youngest kids that explored/destroyed my grandparents' home every summer. My older cousins had American Girl dolls when I was too young to handle the expensive dolls and I was completely fascinated by them. I have such clear memories of creeping around, playing in dirt and chasing chipmunks, only to find my older cousins playing with their dolls in the most respectful of ways. By the time I entered school, I had my very own American Girl doll as well--Kirsten--and she was easily one of my best friends. My younger cousin ended up with Felicity from Williamsburg, VA a few years later after the character was introduced and I happily read her books as I did with all the other American Girls. It's been years since I read about Felicity but she had a pretty major influence on me.

Williamsburg also has an essential tie to my family as my parents chose the location as their honeymoon retreat. I have, quite literally, grown up hearing stories about Colonial Williamsburg--whether from American Girl or my parents--and I've always, always wanted to go.

My senior class trip in high school was to the area--Busch Gardens, specifically, and I had nearly zero interest. I knew Williamsburg was close and I wanted so badly to just go there instead. Who knew they were literally down the road from each other?

So, after years of fantasizing about the town (seriously, I used to play pretend that I lived in Williamsburg when I was little), the beau and I packed our bags and drove south to Williamsburg to celebrate the Fourth of July and my birthday. I was, without a doubt, more excited than I have been for any birthday or holiday in years.

And then we got stuck in traffic on I-95 for hours. For non-locals, this is common place when it comes to I-95 so be prepared. But traffic began to break up and onward we went until we reached our hotel. Dumping our items into the hotel room, we headed back out to my car to find somewhere to eat as we were starving.

We located an Italian restaurant that was awesome before heading out once more. Except now it was getting dark and I didn't want to just return to the hotel, I wanted to see what we had come here for! We typed in "Williamsburg" on my Waze then discovered that the field of horses nearby was actually a part of the colonial area. Darkness was falling quickly, giving a blue quality to the world, Sheep were in different fields, little lights glowed from porches, and overall, it was quiet. Just as I pictured it.

Still uncertain about the rules of the town, I didn't go for a walk--just drove through the portions that allow cars--but oh did I want to. Later on I discovered that while you need tickets, they do not necessarily cover the town itself but many of the stores and attractions. If you want to see live demonstrations, you'll need this ticket, but to walk along the street and look at the buildings it's free entrance.

We went to bed, resting up from the drive and preparing for the heat of the following day, and were up early on the Fourth of July and ready to celebrate. Along with my beau's sister, we obtained our tickets and set off for the town. Our hotel was a 15 minute walk from the center of activity so we left the car behind and walked to Williamsburg. Along the way, we saw the horses from the day before and pet their fuzzy noses while sticking to the shade as much as we could. It was going to be a sweltering day despite a misty, cloudy morning.

The town is sprawled out with large streets and walkable sidewalks. The one thing I would advise anyone who visits is to be careful as the roads are not paved and can be uneven, but there's also the chance of suffering a shoe casualty if you step into the horse poop that occurs every so often due to the horses ridden by actors.

Shops are open by way of flags being placed in front of them (as seen above) but I still took full opportunity to look inside the closed shops to see the delicate items they sold. There are a number of places to eat, all are pretty expensive, and enough shaded trees to provide some protection from the sun. Many of the shops do not have electricity so they close near sunset. They managed to stay cool during the morning hours while we meandered about but I'm sure by the end of the day they were sweltering.

We visited the print shop (we needed to show our tickets for this) and were able to get a lot of information about the process during that time period. I've heard rumor that the people working at Williamsburg maintain character no matter what but not once did we encounter such acting. Maybe it's because we're old and there isn't any magic to obtain (as it would be for children) but I enjoyed being able to talk to the employees and get true, genuine answers to questions and not feel as if they were putting on a show.

Around noon we were able to witness the reading of the Declaration of Independence by a few actors. It was impressive and neat to hear it all during Independence Day yet funny, as Williamsburg was a place owned by Jolly Ole' England and the reenactors behave as such.

While meandering the town, we noted that there was endless activity. You could tour homes, do events, fun activities for kids, and so much more. We weren't very interested in waiting for start times or on lines, so we preferred the pointless meanderings. We may not have had the opportunity to see as much as we had intended, but we still saw a lot and got some wonderful pictures.

The governor's mansion was one of my favorite places. The building was beautiful but it had garden walkways behind the structure and even a maze. We found an old burial area and a pathway through the woods. It was hot and sticky enough that I wanted to jump into the pond that was green with algae but the break away from the Fourth of July crowds was needed.

We were also able to use a bathroom and cool off a bit with some fresh cold water. It should be noted that there are certainly bathrooms through out the area but with the signs pointing to restrooms were, at times, confusing and the larger bathroom options were often crowded.

After this, we headed back to the hotel to relax for awhile and take a break from the sun. Already we were burnt and feeling the pain from the sunburn. We had dinner outside of the area since everything within Williamsburg was so expensive, had a dress code, or a wait list and then gathered what we needed for the fireworks that would happen later that night.

People in the local area tend to arrive in droves for the fireworks. Apparently, they're pretty damn good, and with so much ground to seat yourself you have a lot of options for where to go. We asked people who were already settled if they had seen the fireworks there before and they were all helpful in providing where good spots were for photos or just general viewing pleasure.

Once getting comfortable, we heard fifes and drums. Now, this wasn't the first time that day we heard such music. It seems to be the soundtrack to the town: fifes and drums forever, but this time the beau's sister and I went to find it and discovered a fife and drum parade to the main stage where the Virginia Symphony Orchestra was going to perform for the evening festivities.

After following the corps and watching their performance, we returned to our seats where we played games and snacked while the sun slowly made its final glimmer on the world and we were sent into darkness. One fabulous thing about a town that is meant to display colonial times is that there are few locations with electric light. This allowed the light of fireworks to really stand out and we were given a great show. Everyone was happy and strangers joined in on the oohs and ahhs.

I love fireworks so much. They make me so incredibly happy and I find even more pleasure in taking photos of them. I am not a photographer by any means but I really enjoy seeing the different colors come out on my camera. I try to not spend the entire show looking through my lens so I'll set my camera up, take constant photos, but otherwise watch the show with my own eyes. It didn't disappoint. I've seen fireworks in numerous places -- the steps of the Capitol building being one of them -- and this display was just as good, if not better.

After the fireworks, we were led out of Williamsburg by a fife and drum march with torches to light the way. Best way to end our day? Most definitely.


I had a blast visiting Williamsburg and we ended up stopping into the town a few other times during our stay in the area. We meandered the streets, looked into the herb garden and some shops, and had a generally good time. The Fourth of July was certainly the busy day. The place was swarming with people by noon, but the following days were much more relaxed and with less people. It gave a better opportunity to snoop through the area. There were certainly more events on the holiday itself, but if you want a more hands on experience (with tours and events) I'd suggest going on a non-holiday.

There were so many things I wanted to do and we simply ran out of time, but meandering as we did was great and I can't wait to return.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Poetry of Lang Leav

Sometimes, I want nothing more than to read poetry. It is an urge that arrives randomly and takes a fierce hold on my mind. Thing is, I'm picky with poetry and while I enjoy it, and have written and published it, I find it hard to find a book of poems I can completely fall in love with. 

Then there's Lang Leav. I should preface this to say that I am a book snob. I mean, I am a snob when it comes to the actual, physical property of a book. I love book covers that are pretty and catch my attention and I will, sometimes, judge a book entirely by its cover. I have also been known to buy multiple publications of a book simply because there are various covers that I like more. Lang Leav's two poetry books have sweet, simple, Instagram-worthy covers and I've seen them through various posts on Tumblr. The artwork is simple on the cover, a girl's face, that sits atop a swish of font for the books title.

When I crossed paths with Lullabies at my local Barnes and Noble, I decided to pick it up. I was on a book-buying ban but really, how often do I read poetry? I felt it was worth the (small) splurge. Plucking it off the shelf, I opened it to see if the poetry appealed to me.* I found the poetry quick but meaningful. It was a book I could read in a day but would likely linger over as I read and reread the poetry. I took the book home that day and spent the weekend with finger pressed to page, reading each line and returning to poems as I went.

Lullabies is something soft. They're whispers and dreams, elements of reality of wonderings that appealed to me and my present state of mind. I read the book just after completing my copyediting certification course. I was also considering graduate school and uncertain of my path for the future. I ended up taking note of multiple poems and sat the book aside. This is something I'll keep by my bedside or leave in our guest room for anyone who visits to pick up and read.

I was certain after making my way through Lullabies that I needed to get a copy of Leav's other book, Love. So off I went and once more, I was left lingering over different poems and saving others. I want some of the poetry to be involved in my (not being planned but for someday) wedding. The poetry spoke of all the highs and lows that come with love and the varying emotions that are tied to this emotion. Love isn't always simple and kind, guys. There's layers and Leav pointed that out in her beautiful, fluid writing.

Each book is marked by different sections with illustrations all done by Leav herself. They're as quiet and soft as the whispered words of the poems contained in both books.

There is a third book on the way by Leav and I honestly can't wait until it's published. I've found a poet who I truly adore and will likely follow for ages to come. How wonderful! At times, being a book snob and picking up a book solely because you like the cover can work out quite well.

*Most poetry that is published is likely good and appealing. However, I'm picky and if I do not "like" a book of poems, it's likely because of my pickiness and does not speak ill toward the actual poetry.

Last Week's Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Next Week's Review: Shadows On My Heart by Lucy Rebecca Buck

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Forever (Book 3 of The Wolves of Mercy Falls)

Despite my dislike of the first and second book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls saga, I pushed through to the third book. For me, it would be the final book. I knew there was a fourth book out there focusing solely on Isabel and Cole, but I wanted to end this escapade and not spend anymore money on the series. Forever is meant to be Sam and Grace's final say, it's their final book (at least at this moment, I don't know if Stiefvater plans to write more), so I figured I would finish out their story.

For me, Shiver was the love story; Linger was the filler book; Forever was the action-packed tale. We know all the characters at play, we've heard all of their names before, and now we're set for the final battle. It's like making it through a video game and meeting the boss. You know things are going to get real and you hope your main characters come out on top.

Grace is now a wolf while Sam remains a human. He could, after all, join Grace and be a wolf with her but is steadfast in not doing so. To me, this didn't sit well. There's so much emphasis on the love the two have that I feel he should, without a doubt, sacrifice his human comforts to be with Grace and it's selfish and cowardly for him to step back and go, "Nah, I'm ok. I miss Grace and all. My heart aches for her. But I'd rather stay here in my werewolf family's old house."

And it's not like things are that great at Sam's home, either. He battles loneliness with annoyance while Cole is around. He's also suspected of the disappearance of Grace and a friend (who is there only briefly in the first book, becomes a wolf, and then isn't heard of much else until this book when she's used as a plot device). He works at a small bookstore which seems to be the only relatively nice thing about his human life, so I'm not really sure what he's sticking around for. I would've gone back to being a wolf if only to be near my loved one. 

But maybe I don't understand their love as well. Maybe the true level of their love is that Sam can be selfish and not become a wolf again, and Grace can be ok with that and accepting. Who knows.

Meanwhile, I'm at a loss of what time of year it is again. It sounds like everything within the first three books happened between fall and spring of one year but surely I'm wrong, that's far too quick! Nonetheless, Grace is able to turn back into her human form and with general ease. It just seems that so much of this is easy for her while it sounded like an utter torment for Sam. Eventually, she's able to hold onto her form for a long period of time while other new wolves seem incapable of turning back at all. 

So she's back with Sam and they're thrilled to be together. Still, we have Cole doing experiments on himself to see how he can cure werewolf-ism, and Isabel, who's fighting off a lot of passionate feelings directed toward our rock star werewolf. 

Then we're introduced to another character--Shelby. Now, Shelby was around in the first book as a wolf that was about the same age as Sam. She had picked Sam as her mate and was not taking no for an answer. But that was it, she was often tossed to the side and just used to push around a plot. Now in this book, we get to see a lot more of her in more than just her wolf form. Memories of her as a human often flash through Sam's mind and Stiefvater does a great job painting a picture that this girl is messed up. She's protective of Sam but also kind of going mad. She is more wolf than girl and the cause of one of the bigger problems Sam is facing -- being suspected of murdering one of Grace's friends.

And yet, there's countless evidence that a wolf killed the friend and cause various other issues. But people in this town don't seem to see sense and they still pin the blame on Sam. It's maddening. Aside from this all, the town also goes on a witch hunt for wolves. They decide they'll shoot them all down, eliminate the pack, and their worries will be brushed aside.

So that's the boss of this game. Can the pack of wolves be saved before they're destroyed? Thanks to a curious turn of events, one of the local cops approaches Sam and points out that he "knows their secret" and offers some land he has out of the area for the wolves to go to. Great, they found somewhere safe! Now to get all of the wolves there...

They hatch a plan that involves a lot of sacrifice on everyone's part. Grace plans to lead everyone with thoughts but unfortunately turns into a wolf due to a temperature drop. Sam is left to give up his humanity to become a wolf (which is something odd, he can choose to become a wolf but otherwise is not a wolf at all) and with Grace's aid, they lead the pack as Cole helps in human form--until he turns as well. Enter Isabel who tries to distract the hunting party and is partially successful.

By the end of the book, some wolves are dead, some are alive, the pack has been moved, Sam is no longer considered a murder suspect, Grace puts her parents in their place, and all is well. It was a neat enough wrap up of things as everyone seemed to be in their place. All in all, this was Sam's book, as we learned so much more about his internal thoughts and memories. We learned of how he was chosen, the story behind his upbringing, and get to peek further into his "family." So the majority of the book, I feel, was taken up by this back story that could have been explained earlier on. But whatever, better late than never.

So we're done, or so we think. In the very last moments Grace runs off to the woods to change into her wolf form and there's the serum that could potentially cure her left behind. It's hinted that she plans to take it, but you're left wondering if she does or doesn't and whether or not she survives.

There is a fourth book that was recently released. It focuses more on Isabel and Cole's story and apparently features call-ins from Grace (she lived!) and Sam. But for me, the series ends here. I got a decent ending to the couple we most focused on and they can go live out their slightly wolfish lives together in the back of my memory. Isabel and Cole? Have fun, but I won't be visiting you in your future books. I can't help it but be done with the whole thing.

Last Week's Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Next Week's Review: Poetry of Lang Leav

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Linger (Book 2 of The Wolves of Mercy Falls)

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I would not have read The Raven Cycle (TRC) had I read The Wolves of Mercy Falls first. The writing is much more developed in TRC but certainly lacking in this series. And yet, I wanted to see if it got better. There's definite growth in Stiefvater's writing from Shiver to The Raven Boys, so maybe there was growth in her writing in the Shiver series as well. So, despite my distaste of Shiver, I dove into Linger when I was finished.

Linger happens shortly after the end of Shiver. Exactly how long after, I'm not entirely sure. It's cold, it's warm, it's back and forth. But we know this: Sam is now human. He lived through the "cure" given to him in the previous book (as indicated by the end of it) and the cure seemed to stick. So he's human and Grace is thrilled and together they sneak about and keep his nightly sleepovers a secret from her parents. Typical teen stuff. 

But Grace is getting sick, slowly but surely, and she tries desperately to keep it from Sam. At first, I was sure she was turning into a wolf herself (although why she hadn't when she was a child and had been attacked was still not clear). She followed all the typical symptoms as listed in the previous book. And yet... she didn't turn. 

We're also faced with two new characters. Cole, a suicidal rock star werewolf, and Isabel, the former wench of the school that Grace didn't get along with in the previous book. 

We switched around with points of view again and my head was left spinning. Again, the separate voices weren't all that different from one another and I couldn't keep up. 

I did enjoy Cole and Isabel a little. They both are kind of awful and selfish, but they both are people who get things done which is a great difference from Sam who is too afraid to act upon anything, and Grace who was too sick to care. 

Also enter Grace's parents. They were pretty much absent from the first book and well known for their lack of care when it comes to what their daughter is up to. Now, however, they switch their parenting into hyper drive. From uncaring parents to the extreme, the 180 leaves the reader frustrated at the whole thing. Her parents freak when they find out that Sam has been hanging around without their knowledge, they ban Grace from seeing her, and while at times parents will do this to their teenage daughter--it's such an extreme, such a 180 from how they were in the previous book, that it's hard to swallow. The majority of the time I wanted to hit her parents and was applauding the verbal throwbacks Grace was giving them. It was super frustrating, because they were making Sam out to look like the monster (you know, more than just being a former werewolf) when he can barely do anything without second guessing himself. How aggravating.

Grace continues to get more sickly and eventually, she ends up in the hospital. She's not just sick, she's dying. So the entire book, which felt meandering at times, has led to this point. Grace is dying and Cole is the one who declares a possible cure: make her into a werewolf.

How will this work now when she was bitten before without turning into a wolf? Well lucky for us, Cole is not just a rock star but the son of a famous scientist and he has this all figured out. He figures that when Grace was a child, after she was bit, she was almost (accidentally) baked alive in a car (her father forgot her in because he's father of the year, obviously) and that "burned out" the wolf. But the wolf only lasts for ten years or so before it dies, which is now. But if they just make her become a wolf by biting her again, she should recover and be ok.

So they do that and bam, she's a wolf! She's running off to the trees and all is right with the world! Oh, except that Sam has been cured of being a wolf, never wants to be a wolf again, and now Grace's parents think he's gone and killed her or something (stupidest assumption but we'll get into that later during the next review of the third book: Forever.)

Last Week's Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Next Week's Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Reading Nook -- Anney

My Reading Nook, a feature from Soon Remembered Tales, gives readers a chance to show off their favorite place to read.

What's your reading nook?

This is the grove at Bowers Park in Bowers, Pennsylvania. It is within walking distance from my apartment. Local residents walk their dogs and themselves here - from sun up to sun down, at all times of the year. In the summer, Mennonites play baseball at the nearby field. There's also a food court with picnic benches, open every evening all summer. In September, the Bowers Chili Pepper fest happens - which houses live music and local foods. Despite this, on a regular day, the park is always calm and quiet.

Why is this nook special?

I'm third generation Irish, as well as a casual student of Druidism. For Druids, tree groves are sacred places, cathedrals made of trees. Druids meet and worship in groves. Over time, I've come to find groves to be sacred spiritual places, places of learning and reverence. So that's why I like to write, read, and pray there. I naturally gravitate to trees, when needing to unwind after a long day. Oak trees are especially perfect to lean against and read. Their heat and strength radiates up and down my spine as I lean against them, reading and thinking. There's also a secure boundary in a grove of trees. People rarely walk through a grove. So in this place, I get to enjoy the leisure of the park-goers, while safe in my little cozy space. Ants and spiders run around the grass and twigs around me. All is peaceful. 

Where else do you read?

This is my office, my study, my library. I love to be surrounded by my books when I read, and Christmas lights! My aunt made the quilt for me, about five years ago. The couch is an old futon that used to be my bed. It's larger than a regular couch, so I can sit on it with my whole body folded underneath me. In the mornings, while I eat breakfast and drink tea, I sit here and enjoy the early morning with a bit of light reading.

Interested in sharing your own reading nook? Take a look at the My Reading Nook tab for more information!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Shiver (Book 1 of The Wolves of Mercy Falls)

Oh boy.

I hated this book when I was a bookseller. We were in the middle of the Twilight craze then this book appeared and seemed to be joining the fray. It received mixed reviews: Twilight lovers either loved it or they hated it because it was "as if Jacob won" (because women are something to be won, apparently); other readers seemed to generally despise it. A few of my friends read the book and hated it with a passion I had never seen and I found I wasn't very interested. 

Then I read The Raven Cycle and was so blown away by the author's writing style that I looked into her other work...

... and was completely shocked that she had also penned The Wolves of Mercy Falls. Okay, okay, maybe I got it all wrong. Maybe the books weren't as bad as I had previously thought. The Raven Cycle has completely blown my mind. It's art. So maybe, I was just tied up in the hatred of all things remotely related to Twilight and I took it out on these books. Maybe.

When I began reading Shiver it was pretty straight forward. I wasn't at all confused about what was happening with the characters and found the plot to be reasonably easy. It was an interesting plot though: a girl (Grace) who was attacked by wolves and then later on developed a soft spot for them, specifically "her" wolf who seemed to always take notice of her. Her wolf becomes a boy (Sam) and no one knows exactly how it happened, but they fall in love quickly while they are tangled up in a web of drama that always follows werewolves around.

The idea is interesting enough so I give props for that. I don't feel it's as original as The Raven Boys but there's nothing wrong with writing about classic monsters (hell, I do the same thing). What got me was the sort of unbelievable reactions the characters have. Here we have a girl who was literally attacked by a pack of wolves... and yet she isn't frightened by them, she loves them, and her friends who know of her fascination with the wolves don't seem to point out how weird it is. Personally, I'm terrified of loud barking dogs and I was never attacked by one; the people I know who have gotten bitten by dogs, however, live on with a fear. So for me, this was somewhat unbelievable. While the "reasoning" is given later on, I feel it's not very clearly pointed out and it's far too late of an excuse.

We also have this oddball connection between Grace and Sam. It's mere moments after they meet, really meet, like person to person rather than wolf to person, that they seem to be completely in love with one another. They're only teens and I struggle to believe this mentality. Grace's parents (I can't recall if this begins to develop in this book or the next) are rightly suspicious of their daughter being so "in love" with a guy she just met.

Wolves typically will have one mate, I believe, so if it was owned up to that it would make more sense to me. That Sam found his mate and that is why he's so in love. But there's a lot of lacking explanation in these books and that's what's frustrating.

Grace also lives in a world that is hard to believe. Her parents are basically absent and do not, at all, behave like parents to her. They're very off-hands and it's hard for me to comprehend. I know parents like this exist, but I've never experienced it myself. Grace's parents are so oblivious that it always came as a surprise when another extreme of their absentee parenting style was put on display.

There are a lot of female characters in this series, which is a plus, but I also feel many of them fit almost too perfectly into character traits. They're stereotypical and not that surprising. Their actions are actions that I shrug off and go, "well, I saw that coming."

Another issue with the book: we flip back and forth between characters, at one time reading from Grace's POV and then from Sam's, and I honestly couldn't see the difference. Typically I try to finish a chapter before I put a book down but that often doesn't happen. I run out of time to read and I'm in the middle of a chapter so it is where it is when I get back to it. When I would return to this book I would most times be thrown by who was talking unless it was blatantly obvious. I'd have to flip back to the back of the page, or read a little while, before understanding the POV.

Also, while Grace is interesting enough and certainly strong willed, Sam was made out to appear very weak. It's great to have men who aren't necessarily all bravery and muscles, but Sam was almost too far in the other direction. So often I wanted to shake him by the shoulders and just yell at him, tell him to stop his crap and do what he has to do. He wasn't a timid, teenage boy. He wasn't shy. He also spoke like a grandmother. It was just all so... weird. There are ways to take his likes and the goals of being a timid creature and achieve making a character without it seeming so forced.

Then. The ending. The ending frustrated me. In a rush, they try to find a cure for Sam and they think they successfully have. They administer the cure and then... that's it. You're left hanging and Sam is no where to be found until he just appears in Grace's backyard like a surprise. It had the heartfelt end but there was so little explanation (in this book or beyond) of what happened during all that time that passed from when he was given the cure to walking on two legs into the backyard.

Honestly, had I read Shiver first... I wouldn't have even given The Raven Cycle a go. I was that dissatisfied with it. Stiefvater's writing from this series to the other is completely different. She writes poetically, it seems, no matter what and both books have that poetry, but her character development and plot points are so much better in The Raven Cycle than in Shiver.

Last Week's Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Next Week's Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater