Cover Reveal: “Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)” by Maggie Stiefvater

Holy Mystical Forests, Batman!


 
*asdfghjjlskdhglaksjdlkjg*

That’s an interesting departure from the pattern of the titles, by the way. And I wonder if this means the focus this time will be more on Blue’s part in the Cycle?

2013 Retrospective: Books

This is so late. 😦 Work has been very hectic lately, what with my new responsibilities and management changes in the company. But I finally have a couple of hours to spare to get more pending blog posts out of the way.

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Actually, I already posted a list of my favorite books of 2013 via my GMA News Online year-ender: ‘Daig mo pa ang telenovela’ award and more for the best books in 2013.

I read a few more books that didn’t make that list, though. Some were not released in 2013 either. But for what it’s worth, here are a few more honorable mentions:

  1. “The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)” by Maggie Stiefvater – I love Maggie Stiefvater because her writing is so evocative and she creates very interesting characters. “The Raven Boys”, the first book in this new series, was good, but “The Dream Thieves” is even better. This one has more magic, more action, more character development (particularly for Ronan), and some forward momentum in the romance department. If “The Scorpio Races” deserves an award for the Most Romantic Non-I-Love-You Confession, this one deserves the Most Romantic Non-Kiss Award.
  2. “Unseen Moon” by Eliza Victoria – Horror and suspense are not my favorite genres, but Victoria really impressed me with this collection of short stories, and this made me a fan of her writing. Favorite stories: “The Viewless Dark”, “The Ghosts of Sinagtala” (not recommended for scaredy-cats), and “December”.
  3. “Pacific Rims” by Rafe Bartholomew – This was published a few years ago, but it’s relevant again this year because of Bartholomew’s mini-series in the National Geographic Channel called “Pinoy Hoops”. But hey, really, the book will always be relevant, I think, because we will probably always be a basketball-crazy nation. Bartholomew’s writing is also very engaging, and his anecdotes are fun to read, whether you are a basketball fan or not. He’s one of the authors I would really love to meet sometime.
  4. “Monstress” by Lysley Tenorio – I surprised myself by reading a lot of Filipiniana this year, and several of them focus on the immigrant experience. What stands-out about “Monstress” is the hints of secret histories and a very subtle touch of fantasy that frame what may otherwise just have been run-of-the-mill stories about being a Filipino living in another country.
  5. Kresley Cole’s “Immortals After Dark” series – This probably deserves a separate blog post. 🙂

Here’s a list of the other titles I read last year, as listed in Goodreads: click! My 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge target was 52 titles, which I thankfully passed and even exceeded, thanks to my impromptu Crazy Kresley Cole Holiday Readathon (more on that later). My 2014 target is still 52 titles because I don’t trust myself to not get into another reading slump.

I also met a lot of authors this year (Thank you, National Book Store!), some of whom, I interviewed and wrote about.

Author Mina V. Esguerra also invited me to participate in the audio commentary of her “Interim Goddess of Love” trilogy, which is really good, you guys, so read them! 😉

It looks like 2014 will be another busy Bookworm Year, beginning with the author visits of Gayle Forman and Mitch Albom.

This year, I hope to be able to do more concrete things to further my reading advocacy. Back in 2012, when I wrote about a public high school book club’s challenges, I was thankful that that story paved the way for an NGO to donate books to the school. I really hope I will be able to do something more.

Happy new year, bookish friends! \(^o^)/

Politeness

Maggie Stiefvater makes me see things differently; that’s one of the things I love about her writing. Tentacles. Who knew?

…he was polite in a way that was unlike anything Blue had encountered before. Gansey was polite in a way that squashed the other party smaller. Adam was polite to reassure. And this man was polite in a keen, questioning sort of way. He was polite like tentacles were polite, testing the surface carefully, checking to see how it reacted to his presence.

✻ Stiefvater, Maggie (2013-09-17). The Raven Cycle #2: The Dream Thieves (Kindle Locations 2566-2568). Scholastic Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Miscellany: “Teardrop” trailer, “Unbreakable” audio book, Gaiman talks “Ocean” and fantasy, Stiefvater and bagpipes

Lauren Kate’s “Teardrop” will be released on October 22nd! I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Lauren twice already and to see just how passionate she is about the “Fallen” series, so I’m excited to read “Teardrop” and to see her venture into a new world and a new series.

Never, ever cry…Eureka Boudreaux’s mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn’t, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before. But Ander doesn’t know Eureka’s darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance—a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth…and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined.

Entertainment Weekly has the exclusive on the book trailer HERE.

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Another October release: Kami Garcia’s “Unbreakable” (October 1)! I’m excited for this as well.

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Kami Garcia and her publishers just announced that the audiobook will be narrated by the lovely Candice Accola a.k.a. Caroline from “The Vampire Diaries”! I love her! Yay!

There is a preview of the audiobook on Entertainment Weekly, but I think the media is blocked for users outside the US. You can still try, though! CLICK!

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Book Riot interviewed Neil Gaiman recently. Par for the course with Gaiman, there are so many quotable quotes in the interview, but this is the part that I really loved and the part that made me THINK. Yes, making his readers think—and think deeply—is par for the course with Gaiman, too.

A recurring theme in all your work is that the magical and fantastical lies mere millimeters below the surface of everyday life. After creating these worlds where gods walk among us and fairy lands are a mere crack in the wall away, do you ever get bored with everyday life? For example, do you ever wish Odin was propping up that bar?

What I find fascinating about the real world is that fantasy is one of the few things that allows you to talk about the imaginary. From what I can see, the imaginary is the thing that occupies most people’s lives and allows them to function.

Money is imaginary. It is a concept, an idea. Here’s some pieces of paper and metal. We are claiming they’re scarce when they are not. They represent something.

Scotland is right now arguing if it should be part of the UK or not. National borders are imaginary things. You get up high and look down you cannot see the border. There is none. It’s an imaginary thing that is agreed upon.

Let’s go even further into it. The World Trade Centre getting blown up. If you stand a little bit further back, Islamic-Christian antipathy, Islamic-Jewish antipathy, Catholic-Protestant antipathy, has all the reality of Odin sitting at that counter over there. You take just one step back and it is a bunch of people willing to pervert and destroy, kill and change the world just to say my imaginary friend likes me better than your imaginary friend.

That’s all weird imaginary stuff. So the glory of fantasy is that it allows you to inspect that. It allows you to take one step away from a quotidian reality in which we accept imaginary things as real. Do you realise the amount of blood that has been spilled and is still spilled to this day about people arguing about whether or not a cracker, literally or metaphorically, becomes the body and blood of someone who may or may not have lived, and if he did, died 2000 years ago? And bombs go off. And people lose hands and lives. So, I figure that anyone who wants to tell me that fantasy isn’t dealing with the material of daily life is kinda missing everything that goes on in daily life.

Thank you for stimulating the Little Grey Cells, Sir!

Full interview: In conversation with Neil Gaiman (Book Riot)

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And lastly, Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Dream Thieves”—the sequel to the magical “The Raven Boys”—was officially released yesterday, September 17th. I’ve been reading an ARC for the past 2 weeks. I had reservations about the first book despite liking it, but “The Dream Thieves” just took a hold of me from the first line of the Prologue. I wish I can read faster so I can review it faster!

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…
 
 

Goodreads posted this great interview with Maggie in celebration of the release of the book:


 
 
 
 

From Cover to Cover: Thieves, Goddesses, and Sorcerers

There were a lot of cover reveals these past few days but these are my favorites.

First up: The much-anticipated sequel to Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Raven Boys”, called “The Dream Thieves”.

the dream thieves

There is no synopsis for this book yet, but Maggie announced that it will be published on 17 September 2013. And also, that’s Ronan on the cover, which is interesting, considering no particular character was featured on the cover of Book 1.

Next up: Mina V. Esguerra’s “Interim Goddess of Love” got a makeover for the release of its international print edition, as well as the 2nd installment, “Queen of the Clueless”.

IGoL.cover.600    QotC.cover.600

If you’ve been feeling neglected by the Goddess of Love lately, don’t worry — Hannah Maquiling, college sophomore, is in training to take over. The Original Goddess is missing, but Hannah is Interim Goddess now, and she should figure out how to solve humanity’s love problems soon. Quin (God of the Sun) is still her mentor, still really hot, but apparently isn’t as honest about his other earthly relationships as she thought. It’s frustrating, and enough to make her check out possibilities with Diego (God of the Sea) and Robbie (Cute Human).

In the meantime, she’s decided to spend some of her precious training time helping to break up a relationship, instead of putting one together. Why? Because the girl in question happens to be her best friend Sol, whose boyfriend is stealing not just from her, but from other people on campus. Sol didn’t exactly summon the Goddess, but this is what power over Love is for, right? Surely it’s not just about matchmaking, but ending doomed relationships too. (Even when it’s not what people want.)

The new covers were designed by the lovely Tania Arpa, and photographed/modeled by Rhea Bue. This is a great choice for the international editions because it immediately gives you that YA vibe, and it is rather eye-catching.

And this is the cover for IGoL’s Philippine print edition published by Summit Books:

IGoL summit

While this isn’t my favorite among the covers of IGoL released so far, it’s still cute, and when displayed with Mina’s other books that were released by Summit, this one blends in with the aesthetic of the others nicely.

This edition should hit the bookstore shelves today, while you can check buying info on the other editions here: click!

And last, but definitely not least: The 15th Anniversary Edition of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”! (But but but…I don’t even have the 10th Anniversary Edition yet!)

15thannivehpss

This was designed by author/illustrator Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic plans to release a boxed set of trade paperbacks of all 7 books with covers designed by Kabuishi come September of this year. The hardcovers and digest paperbacks will still be published with Mary Grandpré’s art. Kibuishi talks about the covers here: click!

I like the look of Kibuishi’s art, and this actually makes me want to check out “Amulet”. I love that he picked the Diagon Alley scene to illustrate because it captures that sense of awe that Harry felt when he first set foot in the Wizarding World, which is what I felt when I read this book for the first time. The only thing that threw me off here is the color scheme, which immediately called to mind Grandpré’s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” cover.

“The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Read Date: 16 September 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Status Updates: click!
Review Preview: Lyrical, atmospheric, and an attention-stealing introduction to a new series.
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“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

[ Disclosure: I (loved)x102 Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Scorpio Races,” and have since decided that I would read all of her new books despite being only ambivalent towards her “The Wolves of Mercy Falls” trilogy. ]

My immediate reaction after finishing The Raven Boys was “it was not what I was expecting.” I suppose I can be forgiven for envisioning a dark world inhabited by malevolent spirits after the synopsis promised me “a strange and sinister world.” But hey, I like what I read more than what I had envisioned, so it’s cool.

Most of the elements that I loved about The Scorpio Races were present in The Raven Boys. And forgive me for all the comparisons, but The Scorpio Races is my Stiefvater benchmark right now. 😉

The World – Despite being set in America, Blue Sargent’s hometown had this Scottish Highlands feel to it. It’s a place that is steeped in magic, and Stiefvater’s prose really makes you feel that. We don’t get to see the sights as much because of the focus on the characters and their present quest, but I hope to explore more of the town in the next books in the Cycle.

The Mythology – The Scorpio Races’ mythology was very simple but it was the centerpiece around which Stiefvater built her story and the device which she used very effectively to create conflict between her characters. The mythology of The Raven Boys is based on Welsh myths and legends; it’s a little more complex and it spans different continents and cultures. This was another of those unexpected things for me, because you certainly don’t get an inkling of the Welsh aspect from the beginning of the story. The book feels more magical and fantastical than even The Wolves of Mercy Falls, and it’s fun seeing the characters encounter magic when they are afraid to believe in it.

Magic existed, and Adam didn’t know how much that changed the world.

The Slow-burning Romance – The subtle, slow-burning romance in The Scorpio Races thrilled me more than some of the epic love stories that I’ve read. What romance there is in The Raven Boys is certainly subtle and…let’s just say that my One True Pairing will take at least one more book to get to where I want them to be. Strangely, I am okay with this, and that should probably clue you in on my feelings about The Raven Boys because I often demand good romantic pay-offs. 😛

I am highlighting the romance here only because the character hook for Blue in the book teasers is readings of her future say that she will kill her true love if she ever kisses him, and that the lone ghost she sees is either her true love or someone she killed. But I think the romance is only the icing on top of a wonderfully layered, and more complex story.

…if you get to know him– You’d better guard your heart.

Interesting Characters – A seemingly ordinary girl who comes from a family of psychics. A rich boy with an obsession with a dead king. A bunch of side characters who each have a painful past and who are dependent on one person to keep them together. They’re all interesting to me.

I like Blue despite finding her a little too quirky sometimes. I appreciate that she is the type who is willing to take control of her life despite Fate wanting to intervene with her all the time.

She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.

I haven’t warmed up to Gansey much yet, but I already like him enough. You see, I have a weakness for guys who like books and questing for dead kings. Indiana Jones? Yes, I love him.

And everywhere, everywhere, there were books. Not the tidy stacks of an intellectual attempting to impress, but the slumping piles of a scholar obsessed.

Blue and the Raven Boys also have a very interesting dynamic that I would like to see more of. And more psychic relatives, please.

One other aspect of this book that I liked is that Stiefvater opted NOT to use the first person point-of-view. (Thank you, Maggie!) I appreciated that style in The Scorpio Races, but in The Wolves of Mercy Falls, not so much. It’s a welcome change, and she tells just as good a story using this style.

Stiefvater’s lyrical prose and subtle humor introduces us to a lush and magical world that is brimming with the promise of a fantastical story. This is the first in a series, and it is understandably burdened with a lot of exposition and world- and character-building, but there are a lot of great set-pieces, character moments, and chilling events. While there may not be many satisfying pay-offs by the end of the book, there are plot lines that were satisfactorily resolved, and more interesting ones that have unraveled for the next installment.

You’ve stolen my attention, Maggie. I’m definitely on board for this series.

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This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by Scholastic Philippines.

Miscellany: OMG, the Rowling book now has a title and a synopsis!

↣ Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive excerpt from Maggie Stiefvater’s upcoming The Raven Boys (click!), and boy, was it creepy. It definitely piqued my interest. 😉

The Casual Vacancy is the title of J.K. Rowling’s much-talked about adult novel, which is scheduled for a September 27th publication.

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

It sounds so pleasantly different from Harry Potter, and seems to be the kind of story that will match JKR’s writing style very well. I’m really looking forward to this book.

↣ Lastly, my story on Lauren Oliver and her visit to Manila is now up at GMA News Online (click!)

Cover Reveal: “The Raven Boys” and “Taste”

 
Maggie Stiefvater recently announced that her new project is a 4-book series called The Raven Cycle. The first book is The Raven Boys.

Filled with mystery, romance, and the supernatural, The Raven Boys introduces readers to Richard “Dick” Campbell Gansey, III and Blue Sargent. Gansey has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on the hunt to find Glendower, a vanished Welsh king. Legend has it that the first person to find him will be granted a wish—either by seeing him open his eyes, or by cutting out his heart.

Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. But she is too practical to believe in things like true love. Her policy is to stay away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there—known as Raven Boys—can only mean trouble. When Gansey and his Raven Boy friends come into her life, Blue realizes how true this is. She never thought her fortune would be a problem. But she was wrong.

Maggie has additional info about her main characters, and a song that inspired her while she was writing, here: click!

I’m excited to read this come September 18th, and hope that Maggie will continue to exceed the quality of her writing with each new novel.

I’m likewise excited to read the new YA supernatural romance by Filipino author Kate Evangelista, entitled Taste.

At Barinkoff Academy, there’s only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

The lovely cover is by artist Liliana Sanchez.

There’s no release date set for Taste just yet, however, there’s more info about the book here: click!

I’m curious to see how a Filipino author will spin a supernatural YA tale with non-native characters, settings, and mythology. I know that good writers can mask their ethnicity when they write fantasy, but when the author’s own culture bleeds through the stories a little, sometimes it makes for a more interesting read.

TGWR Giveaway #1: Win a copy of “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater

 
Welcome to my very first giveaway here on The Girl Who Read and Other Stories!

I have one hardbound copy of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and some Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3, also by Stiefvater) t-shirts up for grabs, courtesy of Scholastic Philippines. I’m happy and excited to give another reader a chance to read Scorpio because I really liked it. 🙂

                   The Scorpio Races    

The Scorpio Races

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

 
Because it’s the Christmas season and it’s my first giveaway, I’ll make it easy for everyone to send in entries.

1. Post a link to this giveaway in your social network accounts and/or your personal blogs. You can post to as many as you like to increase your chances of winning.

2. Post a comment here and list the permalinks/URLs of all your social network/blog entries about the giveaway. One link = one entry.

3. In the same comment post, include the answer to this question after your link list: “In The Scorpio Races, Puck and Sean live in a beautiful island called Thisby. On which island in the Philippines do you wish you can live and not leave?” All you have to do for your entry to qualify is to name an island in the Philippines, but you can share your reasons for wanting to live there if you want to; I genuinely want to know! 😉 Your entries are not valid without your answer to this question.

That’s it!

The 1st Prize Winner will receive a copy of The Scorpio Races and a Forever shirt, and 2 Runners-up will receive 1 Forever shirt each.

You have until December 29th, 11:59pm to send in your entries. The winner will be determined by a Random List Generator and will be announced before 2011 ends. In case one person’s name appears on the Top 3 twice, that person will get the prize with the higher value (if applicable), and the 4th name on the list will move up to 3rd place.

Important note: This contest is open only to residents of the Philippines. If the winner resides outside of the Greater Manila Area, I’ll send the prizes by courier.

Spread the word, and may the odds be ever in your favor! 😉

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Reviews for The Scorpio Races:
– My review on GMANetwork.com Lifestyle
Chachic’s Book Nook
RonReads.com

Book Giveaway Alert!

 
I finally got a green-light from my generous sponsor, so tomorrow, I’m going to post the mechanics for my very first blog giveaway!

Check back here tomorrow to find out how you can win a copy of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. 😉

p.s. The contest is open only to residents of the Philippines because I can’t afford the killer international shipping rates, sorry.