Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Raven Cycle #1
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 409
Read it in: 3 days
Source: ARC from the publisher

Summary: 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.
LC's Take:

"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve, Blue. Either you're his true love...or you killed him." 

With a darkly prophetic tag line like that, I knew pretty much right away that I had to read The Raven Boys. I've never read a book by Maggie Stiefvater before, but I can definitively say that I was not disappointed! With its diverse cast of characters and supernatural mystery and adventure, The Raven Boys was a really awesome and unique story that stood out from a lot of other YA...

Blue Sargent lives in a family of clairvoyants-- her mother is a psychic, along with the other women who live at her house. Blue doesn't have the gift of clairvoyancy, but she does have the ability to give energy to people and places, making supernatural occurrences much more likely when she is around. When Blue meets Gansey, one of the "the raven boys" from the elite Aglionby Academy, she is pulled into the supernatural rather unexpectedly, as they search for the legendary lost Glendower, an ancient Welsh king who is said to be hidden along a powerful ley line in Blue's town of Henrietta-- and can be re-awakened by whoever finds him.

So the thing that I loved most about this book was how much depth and complexity Maggie gives to her characters-- they aren't just there to add filler to the story; they have histories, they have inner conflict, and they have imperfections that make them seem real. It was this kind of in-depth character analysis that made me feel invested in the story, because the people I was reading about were easy to picture and relate to. Gansey, born to a life of privilege, worries that he'll never do anything meaningful in his life and is passionately driven in his quest to find Glendower. Ronan, who appears so dark and cold-hearted at first, turns out to have a very kind heart and strong sense of justice. Adam, who has a very troubled home life, struggles with overcoming his miserable life circumstances. Told from multiple points of view, Maggie lets the reader into the minds of her characters and you feel as though you really know them...

Except-- and here was the *one* thing that bugged me about this book-- I never felt like I got to know Blue Sargent as a character. This really surprised me, because I felt so connected with all the other characters in the book, even the minor ones-- but Blue, who is the main character, seemed very vague to me. Besides the fact that she has a special energy about her that can increase the force of supernatural occurrences (and the fact that she has an absolutely horrible sense of fashion and dresses like an 80-year old cat lady), I never felt like I was able to get a grasp on her personality. She was just... there. It was as though I could see things happening around Blue but she herself was very underdeveloped as a character, and I found this to be really strange, considering how vividly all the other characters were portrayed.

Besides Blue being a somewhat underdeveloped main character, I thought that everything else in The Raven Boys was very well done, so don't let that throw you off. The story and the pacing of the plot were done just right, and kept me anxiously turning the pages. Throughout the book, you can tell that there is something very strange going on, but you aren't given enough information to be able to fit all the pieces together right away. I loved this kind of suspense and build up, where as I read I learned a little bit more about all the characters and how they were connected and what was going on. And the supernatural in this book was made even better by Maggie's haunting and beautiful writing style-- everything flowed and made this book very easy to read.

So overall, I think that The Raven Boys stood out as a unique take on the supernatural genre, and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for something different. The end left me wondering what will happen next, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where this series goes!

 ~Cover Talk~ 

I am insanely in love with this cover-- I know it is really simple, but I think that is what makes it stand out from other YA book covers. And I only have the ARC edition, but they still splurged on the cover art-- The painted image of the raven is gorgeous, and both the title and Maggie's name are in raised lettering. The entire thing is on a shimmery paper, and what I really love most about the cover art for this book is that it doesn't appeal to only one group of readers-- it doesn't scream "YA!!" and it isn't directed only at girls by featuring a model in a fancy dress. I think that this is the kind of book cover that is eye-catching without trying too hard-- it's simple and beautiful, and a little dark and creepy at the same time. What's not to like? ;)

LC's Rating:
A unique and intelligent take on the supernatural, The Raven Boys was a story full of mystery and adventure. Vivid descriptions, deep character portrayals, and a well-paced plot kept me glued to the pages-- definitely a TBR add! 

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Blog Design! Librarian Mouse


Hi guys! So as some of you might know, I have been doing web design for other book bloggers since early last year. It has been so much fun getting to create new looks for you guys-- ones that fit your own personal and unique styles and personalities! Today I would like to show you the latest Book Blog Makeover that I did for a wonderful blogger named Alaiel....

Alaiel is the author behind Librarian Mouse, a blog I'm sure many of you are familiar with. Alaiel booked a design with me because she was looking for a change-- her old design was super cute and very well done, but she had had it for awhile and wanted a totally new look. So...

Keeping with Alaiel's favorite colors of purple and red, I got to work on a totally custom-drawn vector design of a girl reading (who looks similar to one of Alaiel's fave manga characters) relaxing in a chaise lounge, with bookshelves behind her, and *of course!* a little librarian mouse with glasses ;)

All of my vector graphics in the designs I create start out as pencil sketches on paper-- here is the before and after of Alaiel's main drawing:


After I have all the graphics drawn, I incorporate them into a unique header with a matching grab button (which is one of the things included in my Makeover Packages). Alaiel also ordered some extras, like custom social media buttons with hover effects, a drop-down menu, custom sidebar titles, custom post signature, AND I have to mention this because it's the first time I've ever done it-- she wanted to order custom blog headers that could be switched out for the holidays-- pretty awesome, right?! I will show the Halloween Librarian Mouse header below, but FIRST.... onto the before and after shots!!

~Old Design~



~New Design!~


So as you can see, this was a MAJOR change! Old design? Way cute, and I liked many things in it-- knowing that Alaiel really loved her old mouse, I made sure that he made a reappearance in her new look :) (You can find him in her sidebar titles...)

Along with the Makeover Package, her are some other features:

~Custom Social Media with Hover Effect~
(mouse over and they change color)

GOODREADS FB TWITTER PINTEREST GOOGLE PLUS RSS

~Custom Post Signature~



~Custom Sidebar Titles~



~Custom "About Me" Section~



AND THE HALLOWEEN HEADER!!
(*eep!* the mouse has little fangs! ^_^)


I hope you guys will stop on over to Alaiel's blog and let her know what you think of her brand-new look-- ESPECIALLY since she's having an AWESOME GIVEAWAY in celebration! Check it out here, and also be sure to grab a Librarian Mouse button while you're at it :)

*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: A Million Suns

Author: Beth Revis
Series: Across the Universe #2
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Pages: 386
Source: Gift from Evie @ Bookish :)
Read it in: 3 days
Summary: It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

~LC's Take~

Ever since I finished Across the Universe, I knew that I would be reading the sequel-- the unique setting in the emptiness of space, the mystery and suspense that kept me turning the pages, the tension build-up with the characters, and Beth Revis' awesome and humorous style of writing-- all of these things had my totally hooked! In A Million Suns, we have the continuation of Amy and Elder's story aboard the spaceship Godspeed, destined for some far-off planet called Centauri-Earth that is supposed to be habitable for humans.

So my general impression of this second book was definitely a good one, but because I tend to over-analyze everything, there are a couple things I have to rant about *a little* because they sort of annoyed me.  First, the good things:

One of the GREATEST aspects of this book-- and this series so far-- is Beth's amazing ability to throw her readers for a complete loop, again and again. There were so many mind-blowing twists and surprises in A Million Suns, as we learn some of the darker secrets of Godspeed, and what the heck is going on with its mission... there was a definite sense of foreboding and impending doom throughout this book-- clearly, Godspeed is not going to last forever and it's only a matter of time before the energy and other resources on the ship run out, leaving thousands of people stranded in space. This really increased the intensity level of the plot and had me anxious to see how things would turn out.

And yes, the SECRETS we learn in this one?? OMG, totally had me freaking out!! Just when you're getting over the last plot twist, something else even bigger is revealed, and you're right back to furiously turning the pages to see where all this is headed-- Beth, you are a GENIUS at keeping the reader on the edge of their seat! :)

I also really loved the tension and conflict going on between Elder and Amy, and the very good question that Amy poses- if she had a choice between Elder and other guys, would she still choose Elder? Or does she only have feelings for him because he's the only other person like her on the ship? I thought this added a really interesting dimension to their relationship, and I'm looking forward to seeing where things go with them in the last installment.

So onto a couple things that bugged me (WARNING: Some *mild* ranting ahead)...

The main thing was how old-fashioned the society on the Feeder level was, given the fact that they're all on a spaceship in 2300-whatever-it-is. Because seriously, there's one part where Elder and Amy go into the city and I felt like we were stepping back into the 1800's-- Why are there guys using hacksaws to manually butcher cows with flies buzzing around and people hand-spinning clothe like ye olde folke from ye dayes of yore?  I mean jeez, this is the 24th century, they do have sanitation measures, no? Laser cutters, automated robot weavers, something?? I just didn't understand why there is this super-modern ship with futuristic technology headed to the outer limits of space, and then an archaic society that still has farmers and peasants and guys butchering meat in the market-- yes, these people still have basic needs and they need to be kept busy on the ship and I know that Eldest was trying to keep a big secret from them all, but wouldn't it make more sense if they were doing experiments or monitoring space stuff or trying to communicate with alien lifeforms... haha I don't know, something futuristic?? Just my opinion there, we'll leave it at that.

Also-- and maybe this is just me-- but didn't anyone on Godspeed think that maybe, just mayybeee, everyone was going to go ape-shit and rebel against the Eldest leader once they were taken off Phydus, the mind-controlling drug? You'd think they might have done some gradual experimentation with that first to see what the effects would be before just pulling the plug, especially on a flipping spaceship where there's nowhere to turn for help if things get out of hand. Along the same line, it sort of blew my mind that there was hardly anyone aboard the ship who knew what was going on, or how to run the ship, or what to do if Godspeed ever landed. Everyone was pretty much clueless, bumbling along not knowing what to do, and this came across as a bit unrealistic to me.

I know, I know, I can be over-critical of certain details in books, but overall I really did enjoy A Million Suns. There were so many layers to it-- the mission, the internal politics aboard the ship, the mystery Amy is trying to figure out, the troubled romance between her and Elder-- all of these things kept me reading, and there was never a dull moment. Add to this Beth's unique and engaging writing style, and a story filled with mystery and suspense, and you have the recipe for a great series. I would absolutely recommend these books to any sci-fi fan, or any reader looking for something that is intensely action-packed and completely different from anything they've read before!

~Cover Talk~

LOVE. Absolute and total love with this cover. Honestly, it breaks my heart to see the new covers for this series, because both this one and the cover for Across the Universe are absolutely breath-taking, and the new ones, in my opinion, are completely "meh." I do understand the reasoning behind repackaging this series-- the new covers definitely will broaden their appeal to a larger audience because they don't scream "YA" like the old ones, but as a huge YA fan, I'm biased towards the gorgeous old versions. This one in particular is so beautiful-- the picture of Elder and Amy holding hands, looking out of Godspeed into the galaxies beyond-- it catches my eye every time I see it! I wish Penguin would at least release a version of Shades of Earth in the original cover style...


Which cover versions do you like better??

~About the Author~

Based on my personal experience, Beth Revis is freaking awesome-- and hilarious. I had the opportunity to chat with her in a live author chat online back in May, and she seriously cracked me up. Here is a little more about this amazing author!

Beth Revis wrote her first books as a student in classrooms, when the professors did not hold her interest and she jotted down stories instead of taking notes. Beth writes science fiction and fantasy novels for teens. Her debut novel, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, was published by Razorbill/Penguin in Spring 2011.

You can check out more about Beth on her OFFICIAL WEBSITE, or on her BLOG on writing!

~Fan Site!~


If you are a fan of the Across the Universe series, you're going to want to check out this awesome fan site that has an interactive version of Godspeed, and added info about the series! 

~LC's Rating~
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Another frexing awesome book in Beth's Across the Universe series. If you are looking for a story with a unique and otherworldly setting, mystery, suspense, and great characters, I would highly recommend adding these ones to your TBR List ASAP! :)

~Get It!~

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read and open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
*****
This week I am reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, which is a supernatural story about a girl named Blue and her family of clairvoyants who can speak to the dead-- I only just started this one today, but already I am super intrigued and the writing is awesome!  Here is my teaser from this book:




"Neeve glanced over her shoulder, either because there were more spirits coming or because they're weren't-- Blue couldn't tell. By the time she looked back, Gansey had vanished entirely. Already Blue felt warmth returning to her skin, but something behind her lungs felt icy  A dangerous, sucking sadness seemed to be opening up inside her: grief or regret.

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




What are you guys reading this week?! Leave me your links in the comments below!

 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January Book Haul, Publisher's Edition!


Well I am still getting all caught up with my book hauls, so this week's haul is featuring books that I have received from authors, publishers, and one very awesome and special book-blogger friend named EVIE!! Evie from Bookish and I were able to meet up this past summer and she was nice enough to gift me some awesome books that I am definitely looking forward to reading! 

~January Book Haul- Publishers Edition!!~

Feel free to watch the video below and see the awesome goodies I have added to my TBR list!


~Links~ 

The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Sanctum by Sarah Fine Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
I Am Number Four by Pitticus Lore Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
The Power of Six by Pitticus Lore Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
The Rise of Nine by Pitticus Lore Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Posession by Elana Johnson Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Willful Impropriety by Various Authors Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Yesterday by C.K. Kelly Martin Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Through To You by Emily Hainsworth Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads


Please leave me links to your book hauls below so I can stop by and check them out!

Happy Reading Everyone!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Blog Makeover! Nette's Bookshelf Reviews


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Hello lovely book bloggers! Today I wanted to show you the latest MAKEOVER I did for an awesome book blogger named Nette over at Nette's Bookshelf Reviews!

Nette was looking for a new look on her blog, even though the one she had was cute, it wasn't all that unique. She wanted to stick to the purple color scheme she already had, but she asked me to draw her a girl reading in silhouette. Silhouettes are always a lot of fun to draw! We agreed on a color scheme of purples and pinks with some gray mixed in as well. 

Nette's layout needed to have that "seamless" feel to it, and I knew that I wanted to create a header with a cut-out effect. She also ordered some custom social media buttons, a custom menu bar, and custom sidebar titles for her blog widgets. I also went ahead and tried a NEW mouse-hover effect that I've never done before-- so when you hover over her menu bar, the pages glow, and when you hover over the social media buttons they change color...

Alright, so here are the final results of Nette's all-new Book Blog Makeover!


~Before~


~After!~


So you can see that the colors didn't change too much, but they are just slightly muted to give it a softer feel. I'm also really pleased with how the cut-out header turned out, and of course the new hover effect looks super cool :) What do you guys think?? 

I hope you will stop on over to visit Nette's Bookshelf Reviews and be sure to follow her! You can grab her button below as well!

*****
Are you considering a new look for your blog? Do you just need an extra little something to spruce up the look you already have? Please stop on over and see me at Lea Christine Designs by clicking on the button below-- you can check out the services I offer and all the designs I have already done!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Book Haul- New Year's Edition!


Oh yes, I am back! So this is not only my first book haul of 2013, it's also my first book haul in like 4 months! Please forgive me for being such a major slacker on the blog lately, but it is one of my New Year's Resolutions to get back onto a more regular schedule with my postings, memes, vlogs, etc. So let's get going!!

~Book Haul- New Years Edition!!~

Alright, so as this is my first book haul in a long time, and also because I'm just getting back into the whole reading/reviewing groove, my list this week is pretty short. But anyways, these are the four books that I am planning on starting the New Year off with-- let me know in the comments what you plan on reading first!!


~Links~ 

A Million Suns by Beth Revis Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Defiance by C.J. Redwine Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck Amazon | Kindle | Goodreads

Please leave me links to your book hauls below so I can stop by and check them out!

Happy Reading Everyone!
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