Thursday, November 24, 2016

Book Beginnings: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Happy Friday! Hope you're recovering from all the turkey and sweet potatoes from yesterday, and/or stuffing the leftovers into a crescent roll and beginning the process anew.

Book Beginnings is hosted over at Rose City Reader, and the instructions are simple: take the first sentence or so from a current read, post it, and let us know what your first impressions and thoughts on the quote are!

My Book Beginning


The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

"Richard Gansey III had forgotten how many times he had been told he was destined for greatness. He was bred for it: nobility and purposed coded in both sides of his pedigree."

 Honestly, I really don't think that this quote represents The Raven King, or Maggie Stiefvater's writing, all that well. The Raven King is the third in the Raven Cycle, so I know the characters intimately. This sentence and the following prologue set up Gansey's character's drive for accomplishment before his inevitable death (not a spoiler; they've been saying since first book, first paragraph that he's going to die. I'll believe it when I see (read) it, which I haven't yet!). However, the sentences I love in The Raven King are simply lyrical - if you haven't read Maggie yet, PLEASE do!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shelf Control (11.16.16): Lament

Shelves final

Shelf Control is a weekly feature over at Bookshelf Fantasies that invites you to pick a book to read that you already own. This is desperately needed for me since I haven't read 98% of the books I own!

This Week's Pick:


Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

How I got it: It's honestly been so long since I got this that I barely remember! I know I won it, so I think this was a giveaway where you got to choose a book to be given.
When I got it: According to Goodreads, I got this on July 5th, 2011. Only 5 years waiting!
Why I want to read it: I love love love Maggie Stiefvater and I think everything she writes is gold. This series was written before the Shiver series, Scorpio Races, or the Raven Cycle, so I'd love to see how young Maggie was as a writer.

If you'd like to participate in Shelf Control, go to Bookshelf Fantasies for info & linky!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, or, A Book Where a Talking Doll Doesn't Scare the Heck Out of Me


Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Pages: 296
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Cover Comments: I'm utterly in love with this cover. The fonts, the red and black color scheme, and the symbolism of the city skyline, the swan, and the stars, all just fit the book so beautifully. One of my favorite covers, possibly ever.

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…


Vassa in the Night is one of the most entrancing and unique young adults novels I've read in quite some time, possibly years. I've been on a bit of a reading hiatus, but this book sucked me in immediately. Vassa in the Night is set in an alternate-reality Brooklyn in which magic is present, but ignored by most human residents. One alarming show of otherworldly presence in the "real" world is BY's, a convenience store that dances on chicken legs and beheads shoplifters, displaying their heads on spikes outside the store. When Vassa and her talking wooden doll, Erg, make a seemingly innocent trip to BY's, Vassa becomes ensnared in a magical world that seems to know more about her and Erg than she is expecting.

Vassa in the Night is a retelling of the Russian folk story Vasilisa the Beautiful. While reading the tale isn't necessary for enjoying the retelling, I would highly recommend it so you can catch some of the parallels and differences. The novel definitely has that dark fairy tale feel - more Brothers Grimm than Disney. The atmosphere of the novel was one of my favorite parts - mysterious and dangerous, but with moments of levity from the wooden doll, Erg or Vassa's sense of humor and snark. The task-oriented plotline at the beginning of the novel definitely stirred up more of that fairy tale/folk tale feeling as well, reminiscent of a quest or three-part adventure.

I loved the characters dominating the novel. I liked that Vassa wasn't constantly an optimistic and determined heroine; she really, really, really wanted to give up at times, but with the help of Erg and other side characters, continues on. Her sidekick Erg was hilarious and heart-warmingly loyal, but Vassa and Erg's relationship wasn't shallow, instead showing moments of doubt and ups and downs. The love between the doll and Vassa was definitely part of why they're my favorite relationship in the novel. There is a bit of romantic love action in Vassa as well, but it's hardly at center stage, and appropriately so. One of the elements of the book that I didn't enjoy or understand at first was the unlikely romance between Vassa and another character. There seemed to be little to no basis for it, which Vassa admits several times, but I just didn't buy it. However, after getting further into the book, it makes a little more sense. Without that background up front though, I still didn't much like that relationship.

The plotline definitely kept me interested, and twists and turns were surprising and, at times, shocking. This is one of those novels where at some points you can't tell what is real and what is just happening in Vassa's head. I would normally be a little frustrated by that, but it just added to the hazy and daydream-like feel of the entire novel, so I can't complain. I do wish some plotlines had been tied up a bit more, like things involving Vassa's father, but the foremost plot lines were finished off nicely.

My only caveat in recommending this book would be to readers who are squeamish - there is a good amount of decapitation and blood, and no description is spared. In sum, Vassa in the Night is a dazzling novel that made me cry, gasp, and feel my heart grow two sizes. I would recommend to anyone who likes dark fantasy, dancing convenience stores, or vivacious wooden dolls.


I received this book through OwlCrate, a monthly book subscription box. The review above is my honest opinion and I am not receiving any compensation for said review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

WWW Wednesday (11.9.16)


WWW Wednesdays is a bookish meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words. The three W's stand for:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to jump to the Goodreads book page!

Currently Reading:


Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

This was the book in October's OwlCrate, which I am newly obsessed with. I love the book so far - it's just the right touch of spooky with a wonderful fairy tale feel. I read the Russian folk tale it's based on, Vasilisa the Beautiful, before starting Vassa in the Night and it's been really fun noting the similarities & differences between the original and the retelling.


The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I love, love, love Maggie Stiefvater and everything she does, so it's no surprise that I'm also in love with this series. It's been a bit slow getting started in this book but I'm sure things will pick up soon. In the meantime, I can bask in Maggie's beautiful prose and the cover art on this book.


Wicked by Sara Shepard

I've recently gotten back into the Pretty Little Liars TV show, so when I saw this one on a library bookshelf I couldn't resist getting back into the series as well. I have sporadically read Pretty Little Liars books over the past couple years; they're such a guilty pleasure. I'm a little embarrassed to read them in public sometimes, but these books are honestly so engrossing and fun. 


Black Water by D.J. MacHale

This book is part of my quest to conquer my TBR list on Goodreads from beginning to the end. I started this series in 2009, and added this book in 2010, so you can see how far I've come along. I might not pick this book up today, but I am enjoying finishing out the series and seeing complexities build in the main character's life as he grows older and the series grows darker.

Recently Finished:


Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I really didn't enjoy this one as much as I had hoped I would. I picked it up because it's a well-loved classic, but it's really not my "type" of book. I don't particularly like war books, and while Slaughter-House Five isn't strictly that, it did involve a lot of war scenes. There were a few passages that were particularly striking & poignant, and I can see the effect that the out of order in time format was supposed to have, it just didn't happen for me.


The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises

Another one from my dusty TBR list from the year 2010! This novel was super quick & cute, but with a surprising amount of depth. From the cover and description, I was expecting romance with a side of gourmet cooking and meals. I did get those things, but also a complicated family situation and a main character who becomes self-aware of how she handles life and strives to change it. I do wish the internship portion of the book came about earlier, but overall it's worth a read.

Next Reads:


Sunshine by Robin McKinley

And the next read on my quest to conquer the TBR Goodreads list! I'm much more excited about this book than some others on my old books challenge. I love Robin McKinley, and I'm really excited to see how she takes on a vampire story. It definitely seems like a unique spin on a done-to-death mini-genre.


If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I've had this on my to-be-read list for quite some time and the recent movie just makes me want to read it even more!


City of Stars by Mary Hoffman

Another series I started forever ago and am picking back up. What can I say? I'm a finisher (slightly compulsively in the case of series like House of Night, for example).

Thanks for reading! I'd love to read your WWW Wednesday posts, just leave a link in the comments!

Sunday, November 6, 2016


You may notice that the last time I posted was four years ago which is, not coincidentally, also when I started college. I thought I had enough writing in those four years to last me a life time, but surprisingly I've missed it. I'm finally getting back to being the kind of reader I wanted to be but never had time for. It's bliss. Heck, I even signed up for a monthly book box.

I missed the book blog community almost as much as I missed being a daily reader. My blog was never particularly popular, but it makes me happy to participate in bookish memes and get my opinion out there with reviews, as well as just be up to date on what's new in the bookish community. I'm making a point to start doing the things that make me happy too, even when it doesn't contribute to a better GRE score or a promotion at work. Thus this revival!

I hope anyone reading enjoys this; but most importantly, I know I will.