5

Bout of Books 13.0

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda // On a Book Bender and Kelly // Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01 am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

If you don't know, Bout of Books is an amazing read-a-thon because it's super casual and the chats are awesome. Also, the extra motivation to read doesn't hurt (especially if you're five books behind on your challenge like I am).

GOALS

My goal is to take part in the chats which means having a  fun, casual reading week. That's it, really. (I might also start Melina Marchetta's Saving Francesca to freak Ellis out).


I also plan to comment on other participating blogs and tweet about my reading progress!

PROGRESS

MONDAY
Number of pages: 339
Books: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa, More Than This by Patrick Ness

TUESDAY
Number of pages: 151
Books: More Than This by Patrick Ness

WEDNESDAY
Number of pages: 129
Books: More Than This by Patrick Ness

THURSDAY
Number of pages: 320
Books: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

FRIDAY
Number of pages: 17
Books: All Fall Down by Ally Carter, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

SATURDAY
Number of pages: 112
Books: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

SUNDAY
Number of pages: 304
Books: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

VERDICT

Total number of pages: 1,372
Books read: 4

Whoa, I thought I wouldn't be able to read more than two and I read four books. See, this is why read-a-thons rock.

Are you taking part in it? Let's get our reading on together!

5

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater


ABOUT THE BOOK

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
young adult paranormal published by Scholastic on 9 September 2014
third book in The Raven Cycle series

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

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.

THE RATING



THE REVIEW

The first time I read Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I was struck by how different it is from the previous installments in the series. I loved it, but I didn't know if the different was good different or bad. The second time I read this book, I discovered so many little things that escaped me the first time around. However, even after reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue twice, I cannot help but feel that it all still eludes me a little. What I'm trying to relay here is that I feel a bit lost when it comes to Blue Lily, Lily Blue. As if I cannot completely grasp what Stiefvater has done with it and with that being said, comes the thing about themes.

Just like with The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue highlights themes that contrast and compliment each other throughout the book. Mirrors and knowability. Every character in the book ask themselves the same question about knowing themselves and others around them at least once. Moreover, there are many instances where Stiefvater puts two characters in a similar situation and let their choices be the thing that differentiates between them. This was also a theme in The Dream Thieves, but in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, it turned in on itself. And mirrors because knowing yourself are you really are is the biggest task of all.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue starts with an urgency that comes with knowing that the end is near but not quite so. Thus, the plot seems to move forward with a certain resignation; as if the characters have accepted that last resorts cannot be ignored anymore, that this is what they've been after the whole time and now it's too late to do anything but move forward.

There's Richard Gansey who cannot help but feel that the end of his hunt for Glendower is near. He's constantly worried about others getting to wake Glendower first and gets cold-feet about the aftermath of waking Glendower. It's been a universally acknowledged fact that Gansey likes to put others at ease as much as he can. However, as his restlessness rises and his feelings for Blue deepens, he starts to relay his real emotions and opens himself up to relying on others more and more. It's interesting and a little bit of a relief to finally see Gansey falter, second-guess himself and just be more real, in a way.

There's Adam Parrish who's having a hard time exclusively being the hands and eyes of Cabeswater. As Persephone helps him in giving only what he bargained for to Cabeswater, Adam cannot help but think of himself as someone who's unknowable. He still have a lot of issues to deal with, the least of which is not letting Robert Parrish get to him anymore. He still adheres to his idealism firmly, but he slowly comes to a realization that he's been the one who's been holding himself back. That his assumptions about others have more to do about him than Gansey or Blue or Ronan. Thus, he quietly gains more confidence to finally deal with his hangups about poverty, friendship, and being Adam Parrish.

There's Ronan Lynch who is still a snake, but with less poison than before. He continues to grow even more as he accepts himself as a Greywaren and shows a caring side of himself that was buried under a mountain of rage before. Ronan knows that things could get uglier and he wants to be prepared. His primary emotion is still anger, but it's the anger that everyone now knows naturally comes with being Ronan Lynch. But he's much less strung up than before and still the most precious of all.

There's Blue who's put under a microscope as senior year of high school rolls around and Maura Sargent is still underground. It's really something to see Blue struggle with the realization that college may be out of question for her. Her need to have something more or be something more gets further tangled up as Gwenllian comes into the picture. Moreover, Blue is really starting to fall in love with Gansey which is just so beautifully sad to witness.

There's more to Noah Czerny than anyone can ever know. As he deals with his issues about being alive or staying dead, he constantly flits in and out of their lives. Also, it's insinuated that Noah is more aware of everything around him than he ever lets on and that's something that kind of scares me a little. Mainly because time is circular and Noah might be aware of how it all ends...

Overall, the relationship dynamics between the five main characters get even more layered and branch out in this installment. Gansey and Blue try to hold themselves back from a potential doom while, Adam and Ronan open up to each other and see more of each other. Moreover, the relationship of Blue and the Gray Man, and Blue and Ronan are two bright little spots. More, please.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue also takes a deeper look at the dynamics of the women of 300 Fox Way; mainly Calla, Persephone and Maura. Their friendship is exactly how I want the friendship of Blue and her raven boys to be like in the future. As far as secondary and tertiary characters go, Gwenllian's crazy is the kind of crazy that I can only be amused by and Piper Greenmantle absolutely won me over with her quirky bluntness. Jesse Dittley is a ridiculously endearing addition to The Raven Cycle, thumbs up for Roger Malory annoying the hell out of Ronan and oh, definitely looking forward to seeing more of Henry Cheng in The Raven King.

So while The Dream Thieves is my favorite of the series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the most Stiefvater of the three. It takes a long look at each of the characters and their relationships with each other just as it all comes to a close. The end is nigh and the heart is so full.

THE QUOTES

'I know when I'm awake and when I'm asleep,' Ronan Lynch said.
Adam Parrish, curled over himself in a pair of battered, greasy coveralls, asked, 'Do you?'
'Maybe I dreamt you,' he said.
'Thanks for the straight teeth, then,' Adam replied. 
'He left bloody fingerprints on the rock, but there was something satisfying about that.I was here. I exist. I’m alive, because I bleed.' 
'The scent of Cabeswater, all trees after rain, drifted past Adam, and he realized that while he'd been looking at Ronan, Ronan had been looking at him.' 
'Gansey thought of how strange it was to know these two young men so well and yet to not know them at all. Both so much more difficult and so much better than when he'd first met them. Was that what life did to them all? Chiselled them into harder, truer versions of themselves?' 
'Humans were so circular; they lived the same slow cycles of joy and misery over and over, never learning. Every lesson in the universe had to be taught billions of times, and it never stuck.'

12

Monthly Recap: April


April was a month where I got too busy and had no time to relax until the last five days of the month.

LIST OF NEWSWORTHY

2015 is flying by! What.
Bookstores are my favorite place to be // Summer means ice lollies // Hospital runs // Are your books squeaky clean? Heh
Life After Transplant
My mother had a successful kidney transplant in the middle of the month and everything else basically rolled around it. It was such a nerve-wracking experience but she's doing so much better now. Thank you so much for all your positive thoughts, guys! They definitely helped. <3

Not Too Little, Not Too Late
I've been busy accomplishing something that I was supposed to a year and more back and it's such a relief. I'm hoping to talk about in length in a blogpost soon.

#cleanbooks
Crini and I started a ridiculous tag on Instagram because we've had it with ridiculous tags so what's one more? Also, we get to mess up the tag because there are people looking for books with no swear words which is unfathomable to me. Why would anyone want censorship like that? Ronan Lynch is not amused.

TV WATCH

All the TV shows I watch are on crack because what the cray-cray?!

Allison as Sarah is a thing to watch. // Orphan Black
Arrow and The Flash get the twin award for being the most crazy shows ever and I love them.
I'm so relieved that Revenge is ending because it's time for it to be over. Also, I'm glad that it's ending on such a crazy note because it fits.
Fresh Off the Boat is such a ridiculously hilarious show. All of you need to watch it.
Damn, I was digging the humanity-switched-off Steroline so much on The Vampire Diaries. They're all I watch, really because I fast-forward all the Delena and other crap scenes because barf.
Orphan Black is back and I couldn't be happier that it's better than ever.

MOVIE WATCH


Hey, look at that. I managed to watch a movie.
Groot is my favorite, obviously // Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy (8/10) - Guys, I watched Guardians of the Galaxy and I am Groot.

APP WATCH

Has anyone tried Inbox by Google yet? I think it looks really sleek but I've yet to play around with it.

MediSafe is 
MediSafe - Since my mother is on immunosuppressants as well as steroids, I decided to get this app so that she takes her medicine on time because otherwise there could be risk of rejection. So far, so good. I highyl recommend getting this app if you're on medicines for life or even doing a week-long course.

LIST OF READS

Rereads are the best and half the reason why I read so little in April.

The Raven Cycle, slaying me since 2013.
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (reread)
99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (reread)

LIST OF BLOGPOSTS

I still want to blog but again, had no time. I'm hoping I'll fully get back into it in May, though.

I posted my review of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.
I interviewed Becky Albertalli, the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was awesome.
I posted my review of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.

LIST OF BOOK BUYS

I'm not buying many print books this year because there are so many good that have yet to release. My wallet is going to be so sorry.

I'm so excited to read this in May with Crini!
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (thank you, Greenwillow Books)
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (thank you, Balzer + Bray)
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (thank you, Harper)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

PLAYLIST

All the All Time Low and POLARHEART's Hypnotise, basically.

Thanks to Crini, I got hella addicted to this album // More Hilary Duff music // Ship to Wreck is such a good song!
How was your April?

4

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
young adult paranormal published by Scholastic on 5 September 2013
second book in The Raven Cycle series

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...

THE RATING



THE REVIEW

Much like The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves is character driven, but unlike The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves focuses on one character more than the others. This is my favorite part because Ronan Lynch is my favorite character ever, no question about it. After getting so little from his perspective in the first book and then the promise of an enigmatic turn to the story as a whole, The Dream Thieves more than delivered. Stiefvater's brilliance shines in the way she molds the characters further into shape while tackling their inner struggle alongside their relationship dynamics with one another.

Simply put, The Dream Thieves is all about shifting themes; a study in what makes a person. Gansey's issues with having too much and Adam's issues with having nothing at all and losing what he has to Cabeswater. Ronan's secrets and identity, Noah on the edge of existence, and Blue desperate to be something more. But most of all, the book hinges on a crossroads. From the beginning to the end, each of the characters are faced with an inner struggle that they must come face to face with. Ronan most than the others.

Richard Gansey's slow progress in his hunt for the Raven king continues to unsettle him, but it all takes a backseat in the wake of Ronan's confession. As a result, The Dream Thieves delves deeper into just how much Gansey's friends mean to him and the extent he'd go for them. How he constantly worries while his appearance oozes enviable confidence. And as Adam Parrish teeters on the brink of constantly going the wrong way to define himself, Noah Czerny is barely there. Blue tries to persevere and just be as the women of 300 Fox Way gets involved with a stranger. But it is Ronan who lives with secrets, secrets that Kavinsky seems to be aware of. Oh Kavinsky, what a deviously delicious character. He is corrupted to the bone and it shows, he is what Gansey worries Ronan could turn into some day which Ronan thinks is a legitimate worry.

However, Ronan's shifting self is the most fascinating self to ever exist on page. When awake, he is adamant about being truthful to the point of blunt as secrets thrum inside him. Secrets that come to life in his dreams; the one place they only ever do. He only admits to his secrets in dreams. He only has to realize that he needs to be able to love what he is and who he is in his waking life. Ronan, his secrets, and his desires drive his development as a character forward which is so layered and complex that I can't help but love him the best.

The Dream Thieves is four hundred pages about a character who is finally trusting his friends enough to indulge them in his secrets. As much as The Dream Thieves belongs to Ronan, a small, essential part of it belongs to Adam, too. The eerie ambiance of the first book gives way to a more just-below-the-surface kind of quiet urgency that I already know I will want to experience over and over. The Raven Cycle is a series shrouded in mysteries and with every other book, it delves deeper into some while revealing others. Trust me when I say this book is the best of the series yet.

THE QUOTES

'The second is a harder kind of secret: one you keep from yourself. Every day, thousands of confessions are kept from their would-be confessors, none of these people knowing that their never-admitted secrets all boil down to the same three words: I am afraid.'

'And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war.'

'In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.'

'He was full of so many wants, too many to prioritize, and so they all felt desperate.'

'Sometimes Ronan thought Adam was so used to the right way being painful that he doubted any path that didn't come with agony.'

'It was nothing, but it was Adam Parrish's nothing. How he hated and loved it. How proud he was of it, how wretched it was.'

12

Interview + Giveaway: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Blog Tour

I'm so excited to be a part of #SimonVs blog tour because it's one of my favorite books that I'll be pushing everyone to read. Harry Potter and Elliot Smith obsessed Oreo-fiend, Simon Spier is my favorite this year. He's also a hopeless romantic who can't help his hilarious typos in flirty emails to Blue. I'm plan to reread it forever and ever and cannot wait to hold the beautiful hardcover in my hands.

ABOUT THE BOOK

young adult lgbtq contemporary romance published by Balzer + Bray on 7 April 2015

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn't play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone's business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he's been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.


THE INTERVIEW


I'm so incredibly happy to have Becky on the blog today because I adore her! Case in point, we both had one day to get this post ready and she was so fast with her replies to my emails despite being so busy. Basically, she's such an amazing person.

It says in your bio that you write 'very nerdy contemporary young adult fiction.' How did the very nerdy part came to be?

I LOVE this question, because the fact that you even have to ask is extremely flattering. I think I will always write about nerds, because I can’t even begin to imagine what goes inside the brains of cool people. Fact: Simon and his friends are nerds, but my own nerdiness reaches a whole other level.

As a clinical psychologist, how has your experience of working with teenagers influenced you as a writer?

I think it’s a mixed bag! Being a psychologist gave me the opportunity to get to know so many incredible teens, and I think it helped re-acclimate me to how teens talk, think, and interact. That being said, balancing the two roles has been challenging at times. I went from having basically no online footprint to being a public figure, and that alone has been a huge transition. Furthermore, in my role as a psychologist, teens have trusted me with really precious information, and it’s critically important that I never mine that for my fiction. Beyond that, I try to do everything within my power to make sure my former clients never feel vulnerable that their confidentiality could be breached. I won’t let it happen – that’s nonnegotiable – but I still worry that they think it might!


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about so many things so this might be very hard for you to answer, but what's your favorite part about it?

Hmm…I think my favorite part of this book is the love story. I loved writing the email chapters. I think I got a little lost in Simon and Blue’s relationship at times! And I feel like I’ve gotten to know them both so well over the past two years that it’s really special to see them get their happy ending. I truly believe that every Simon deserves to eat infinite Oreos and make out with the grammar nerd of his dreams.


Drunk Simon or Oreo eater Simon?

That is, in fact, a trick question, because Simon is ALWAYS Oreo eater Simon (and Drunk Simon is especially Oreo eater Simon). I will resolve this dilemma by linking to this very informative Buzzfeed. Why, yes, I will be making these for my launch party.


Do you know you probably gave us all a heart attack with Martin's involvement in Simon's life?

My work here is done!!! :-D


It's awesome to see so many diverse YA coming out this year! What's your take on that?

I’m completely thrilled by it. It’s incredibly inspiring to see editors acquiring such a range of diverse titles, and especially to see the reading community responding to them with such enthusiasm and positivity. In my imprint (Harper’s Balzer + Bray), I can name four 2015 debuts off the top of my head that star LGBTQIA+ characters, and one of their huge contemporary titles this year stars a Turkish-American girl. I think this shift is so incredibly important and so desperately needed – and, thanks to influencers like the We Need Diverse Books team, I expect it will only continue to improve. Of course, it’s also important to acknowledge how much work there is left to do in challenging our tendency to default to white, straight, cis, male, non-disabled characters and authors. Nonetheless, I’m excited to be a part of that work.


Are you currently working on anything?

I am working on something! I’ve been in edits and rewrites for the second book of my two-book deal with Balzer + Bray, which I would describe as a loose companion book to SIMON. I’m hesitant to reveal much about it, since I keep making such dramatic changes as I rewrite. I’m hopeful that we can expect to see it on shelves in 2016.


Lastly, everyone should know that you are - ?

Beyond excited to launch this book. Incredibly, ridiculously grateful to all of those who have supported me along the way. Thrilled to be a part of this community. Looking forward to what comes next!

Becky Albertalli can be found at
Website | BlogTwitter | Goodreads | Instagram |

THE GIVEAWAY

We may never now what the emboss on an Oreo cookie means but that surely isn't stopping Simon or us from enjoying one or a whole pack of it. One lucky person will win a copy of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda along with a package of Oreos. (Please do visit my policies page before entering!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additionally, you can also win a personalized hardcover of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda if you tweet how you eat your Oreos or Instagram a picture using the hashtag #SimonVs by April 6th. Yes, today's the last day so get going!