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.

Postscript to my Recommended Reads from 2012

My 12 Recommended Reads from 2012 story was just published on GMA News Online – Lifestyle: click!

Sidenote: I wasn’t able to include purchase information for the books on the list, so here they are:

  1. The Fault In Our Stars – I saw signed first edition hardcover copies in various Fully Booked branches, so if you’re going to purchase this book, try to find those. This is also part of the John Green Box Set, which is available in all the major book stores.
  2. The Casual Vacancy, Gone Girl, Cinder, Trese 5, The Raven Boys, Bring Up The Bodies, Kwentillion, This Is How You Lose Her, and The Song of Achilles – are all available in local book stores.
  3. Interim Goddess of Love – Because this is published independently by Mina, you can check out her website for purchase options. That Kind of Guy, meanwhile, is available in local book stores.
  4. You can purchase Lauriat on Amazon.com.
  5. Lower Myths – is an e-book available through Flipreads.com. A Bottle of Storm Clouds is available in local book stores and online via Lazada.com.

I had to choose the 12 books for that list carefully so that I can cover a wider variety of books. I don’t think I really succeeded because I know there are a lot of non-fiction, literary fiction, children’s/middle-grade books, and other excellent local literature that I never mentioned. But then again, I only feel comfortable mentioning books that I’ve read or that people/sites that I trust actually recommended.

There are also other good books from my 2012 reading list that did not make it there for several reasons: 1) They weren’t published in 2012 (although I did cheat with “The Song of Achilles,” but that’s too good to not recommend); 2) They are part of a series (I cheated with “Bring Up The Bodies” as well, but that can stand alone as opposed to other sequels I read); 3) There are just other books that are more worth recommending.

Since I don’t need to follow the rules I set above here on the blog, just for the record, here are my other favorites from my actual 2012 reading list:

  • Moondogs by Alexander Yates (4 stars) – I never got around to reviewing this after our book club discussion. This book is set in the Philippines, and everything–the people, the places, the culture, the history–feels authentic despite being written by an American. Sure, Yates lived here for some time, but it still isn’t easy to get that authentic feel, even for some Filipino authors. I also loved Yates’ characters, most of whom, are larger than life. The fantasy elements were fun to see in action, especially when it involves Reynato Ocampo’s X-men like gang, although not so much when we’re dealing with other characters. Over-all, it’s a fun read. 🙂
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (4 stars) – The idea of an origami finger puppet of the awesomest Jedi Master ever spewing vague wisdom is already great on paper, but it’s so much better on folded paper. (Okay, even I have to wince at that, but let’s run with it.)
  • Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (5 stars) – Beautiful and enchanting.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (5 stars) – A sci-fi classic, and now that I’ve finally read it, I get why. Despite being written decades ago, its core themes and ideals remain relevant, especially since our modern world is still not free of certain oppressive entities who would ban or burn books in a heartbeat. Until now, I still don’t know what is that one book I would want to be assigned to memorize if I ever joined a secret society of “mental librarians.”
  • The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (4.5 stars) – is a great finale to Riordan’s “The Kane Chronicles.” The way he Riordan-ized the Egyptian deities here continued to be almost pitch-perfect, and he ties up all the plot lines and character arcs nicely. I didn’t like how he handled the thing with Anubis, though, so I will knock 0.5 stars from my rating.
  • Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima (4 stars) – This is my “surprise” book this year. It isn’t my usual fare, and yet I found myself finishing the entire series despite being required to read only the first book for our book club. Until now, I can’t quite pinpoint what it was that made me want to finish the series, sometimes even at the expense of other books that I told myself I absolutely had to finish then. Most of the Cycle is bleak, even depressing, and there are big chunks of text on religion, philosophy, and history that do not affect the plot but are mostly there only to reinforce certain themes or ideologies. My pet character didn’t even make it past the first book! So yes, indeed, this was a big surprise to me. The even bigger surprise is I’d probably read another Mishima book if I can get a copy of one.
  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (5 stars) – The War is on in this sequel to the beautiful Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Taylor does away with her more poetic prose for this one but her writing is no less vivid. She has successfully moved her characters into strategic places on her plot chessboard while giving them more depth than they had in the first book and also developing more of her mythology. And our villain is more solid this time. There are some nice additions to the List of Characters That I Hope Will Not Die But Probably Will, and I still love Akiva, who will remain on my list of Literary Boyfriends. I am very excited for what’s to come in this series.
  • The God Equation and Other Stories by Michael A.R. Co (4 stars) – I love good geeky Filipino speculative fiction and my favorites here are “The God Equation” and “In The Eyes of Many”. Co’s writing is particularly strong in the titular offering, as he manages to not alienate non-math loving readers even as he spews out a lot of technobabble. The majority of the stories often feel rather open-ended despite the plot threads coming to a satisfying close; I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just the writing style. Or maybe it’s just me. Nevertheless, the story ideas are great and they make me want to check out more of Co’s work. [Availability: Books on Demand | Kindle Edition]
  • The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (4.5 stars) – I’m in the middle of writing a full review of this. I’ll update this post when it’s live. 🙂 UPDATE: click!

p.s. I’m still 3 books behind on my 2012 Reading Challenge of 53 books, so it looks like I have to cram in the next few days. Wish me luck. 😉

“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.