Book Review – The Dream Thieves

Here we are for round 2.  The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater is the sequel to the book The Raven Boys.  This review will contain spoilers for the second book after a point.  There will be a warning there, so please don’t read past the spoiler warning if you don’t want to be spoiled.  I will create a shorter, spoiler-free review first so that you know my overall feelings about the book, but it may contain spoilers for the first one.  But if you didn’t read the first one, why are you reading the review of the sequel?  Anyways.  On to the reviewing.

This book picked up a little bit after the sacrifice of Adam for the ley line.  It also picked up right after the info dropped that Ronan had brought Chainsaw (the raven) out of his dreams.  Obviously with that info and the title, this book focuses more so on Ronan’s story and how he fits into this larger world.  I did not hate this choice.  While Ronan wasn’t flat in the first book, he didn’t get as deep of a review by the first book.  He just didn’t need to be looked at that deeply.  But I’m a sucker for giving characters their own arc and time and that was what happened with Ronan.

With that in mind, I almost felt like this book went a little bit too far in exploring the characters.  I like to watch characters live their own lives, but when you’re just coming out of a book that was moving at a steady clip and the sequel slows down, it’s just a little bit disappointing.  I dragged my feet through reading this book.  But just when I was starting to feel like I wanted to take the book back to the library early, there was some action.  And by some, I mean a lot.  The last 100~ pages, maybe less (I’m bad at estimating where things happened in the book), were so jam packed with stuff that I felt like I had gone through whiplash.

Pacing-wise, I didn’t like this.  I felt like it was just so slow going that we needed that action earlier.  There were moments of it, but they felt so far and few between during the actual reading.

At the end of this, you’re left on another cliffhanger that I am very much interested in.  I have put the third book on hold so that I can read it.  But I am definitely going to put a couple of books between this one and that next one.  I need a mental break to see if I’m ready to go back into that wonky pace.

SPOILERS

So let’s talk about my favorite things that came out of this book.  Obviously I love the development of Ronan as a character.  He went from the wild child to a wilder child to understanidng what it was that he was brought into the world with.  His role as a Greywaren is still mysterious, but the fact that he has a real role and isn’t just able to pull things out of his dreams as a fluke is fascinating to me.  Obviously since he is featured in the story, he was going to have some sort of important role, but Ronan the person and character doesn’t scream that he’s going to be able to commune in his dreams with a mysterious force that will allow him to pull things into reality.  There are still tons of mysteries around this power, but the way that it fit into his character arc was amazing.

Another part that I wanted to talk about was the continuing arc of Adam as a character.  His arc has been in the background of the last book as well with his feelings for Blue, his family’s situation and where he was going to wind up in the world, and how he sacrificed himself for the ley line.  He has been on a rocky road since the beginning of the first book and the events of this book don’t let him really have a place to settle until the end.  Him being the “Magician” (whatever that is) came upon really suddenly at the end.  I’m interested to see what comes of it, but I’m worried that Adam will have a series of being given a new name and then the responsibilities not being explained to him or ever really needed until a much later point.

But also man did I feel for Adam during a lot of this.  He got kicked when he was down again and again, but it was good to see him find a place to belong.

And finally, Gansey and Blue.  I mean, we knew this was coming.  I didn’t expect them to mention Adam during all of this.  I also don’t really see exactly how it fit correctly.  I’m interested to see how the relationship develops, but it feels too fated.  It feels like there was no reason for it to happen and yet every reason for it to.  And that might be intentional.  I guess that’s what the next book will be about.

I’m very conflicted by this book.  There were a lot of very good movements in the story, but there are portions that I have problems with.  I don’t know.  At the end of the day, I can’t expect a piece of art out of every book that I read.  Right now, this series and this book are on the fence for me.  Like I said, I’m getting the second book at a later date to read.

Good Night

 Oh boy. So we’re at the end of NaNoWriMo. It ended yesterday. Did you win? Did you play at all? What did you do? How did you do?

I am 100% exhausted now that NaNoWriMo is over. That’s why you’re getting this post on a Sunday afternoon instead of the regularly scheduled Sunday morning. I didn’t even have time to think about writing more yesterday after I crossed that finish line and finished up what I was doing for NaNoWriMo. And I even immediately turned around and started working on other things that I needed to get posted today elsewhere. I just had a lot of stuff going on all at once.

Heck, I still have a lot going on, but I am so relieved to be done with NaNo that I’m getting a cold. My body has given up a little bit. I can’t blame it. I’ve been running on very little energy for the last month. I’m not going to take a complete break from writing blogs and things, but I may stop these life update ones until we’re back at a point where I am actually a living person. That’ll likely be next year at this point.

Well I am going to keep this post short so I can go and take a nap. Good work everyone.

Book Review – Harley Merlin and the Mystery Twins

 So after reading the first Harley Merlin book, I decided to grab the second and add it to my reading pile.  There are even more books after this one, but I wanted to see if the series was worth delving further into.  The first book was written with a series in mind, so I was also driven to understand the plot that had been left unexplained by the first book.  So let’s go through a spoiler-free review of the book and then jump into a spoiler-filled dissection of the book and how it really left me feeling.  If you’re interested in the book series and don’t want to be spoiled, there will be a very clear point in the review where you should stop.  Do not yell at me for spoiling it if you decide to read past that point.

So, spoiler-free.  This sequel picks up pretty close to where the first book left off, give or take a week.  One of the first things I noticed was that the first chapter had Harley’s name on it.  Later on (a couple chapters later, I believe) you’ll switch to a different character’s perspective.  Narratively, it’s a necessary choice because there were some things that Harley just wasn’t going to see.  I liked the choice and it helped give the world a little bit more depth, which was something that I had really been wanting.

The story arch was good, fit into the one book and left you with just a couple more questions that you want to answer, so you move onto the third book.  It again falls into a pattern of both embracing and slightly breaking tropes from the YA genre, but this one seemed to embrace more tropes than it twisted.  I can’t say that I didn’t expect it or that I was entirely disappointed, but it was definitely still good writing.  The characters are all well-rounded and they really shine in this book in some new and interesting ways.  It makes me excited for the next book to see where the characters go next and how they change.

As a series, it still goes fairly strong.  I would say that this series feels like a classic TV show.  The plot stretches the episode with some sprinkles from the overarching plot that’s going to be featured in a later episode.  I appreciate that approach and am actually looking for other books like it so that I can stop chasing series that just keep going and going and going.  I need a nice resting point!

SPOILERS START HERE.  IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, STOP.

So let’s really get into the thick of it.  The introduction of the suppressor that’s inside of Harley really threw me off.  I liked the idea of a main character being mediocre and still being talented and able to do something amazing in the world.  The suppressor really threw a wrench into it and now I’m having to figure out if the fact that Harley is overpowered is going to change things for me later in the series.  The fact that the suppressor isn’t getting rid of all her powers, really lends itself towards something that I’m not excited about, but for the moment, I’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt and keep looking at getting deeper into the story and seeing how I feel at the end.

I will say that having the main character be overpowered isn’t unusual and doesn’t surprise me, but I was so hoping it would be a twist.  But there were plenty of other characters that I took issue with during this.  Such as the Twins.  While I like that shorter plot for the one book, I feel like we missed a lot about the twins that could have made them so much darker and so much deeper.  We got a basic overview of them, but then the brother is killed and now we are left with only one of them (this will definitely come back to haunt the good guys in the end).  But there wasn’t much more than that basic overview to go off of and I felt like I was missing out on something.

Another two characters that I have feelings about are Isadora and Jacob.  The twist of Isadora being alive was something I called in the first book just based on the way that they were talking about her.  There was no way she was going to just be gone from the world like the book was implying.  Jacob was a surprise, but I have to say he is a welcome one.  I also appreciated that he wasn’t immediately part of something that the good guys were going to use in the battle against evil.  In books like this, you will run into plots that go that way.  And I have often not liked using characters like that.  It just doesn’t sit right at the end of the day.

I have the third book on order from the library so that I can read more about how these characters do.  The characters are really what is driving me here.  The world that they’re in is the real world, so I often don’t think that deeply about it.  Right now, the larger magic world doesn’t have a lot to do with the plot as well, so we aren’t diving into the lore of it (yet), so the characters are really the driving force that is keeping me interested in the series and the books.  What happens to Jacob in the rest of the series, how the remaining twin plays into the overarching plot, even after she’s been put away.

I’m interested.  Will the story remain strong in the third book?  I think so.  But I’ll let you know.

Short ‘n’ Sweet

 So I feel a little bit bad that I haven’t been around doing anything on here for a little bit.  Life and work got crazy and I had to pick something to focus on, and it turned out that it wasn’t going to be the blog.  But now we’re here and I can actually sit down and write something (albeit a short something).

Most of NaNoWriMo has gone and I’m…..on target?  I might have spent a little bit of the past week playing Pokemon Sword because I really wanted to.  But I’ll be catching up and getting back ahead to make sure that I finish off NaNo on a strong note.  I feel good about it.  But also I want to sleep for a week (but I think that’s because of a lot of things and not just the writing thing).

My mental health has been a little rocky, but I’m working on getting it back to a good place again.

I really don’t have a lot else to say right now.  I should be heading back to my writing.  But for anyone that has been dealing with shit over the last couple of weeks, know that even if you don’t complete NaNoWriMo, I’m proud of you.  Life sometimes has to come first and then you can return back to the things that you find fun.  I forget this fact myself a lot and I’m trying to be better about taking care of myself.

I hope y’all are doing good.

Here Comes Week 2

 Week Two.  A dreaded week in NaNoWriMo.

This is where everything really starts changing for NaNoWriMo.  This is where a lot of people start falling off the wagon and aren’t keeping up with their word count or they find themselves facing a wall of writer’s block.  There are a lot of ways through this time, but I’m really not sure if I’m qualified to let you know how to get through Writer’s Block at this point.  I’m way ahead of my goals and I’m hurtling towards a wall that’s going to come on much later.

But week 2 does mark a lot of things for people.  People are through with their first week. This is where people are really making decisions about their work and how they feel about it.  I have gone through 10 other NaNoWriMo’s and my biggest failing point is that week 2 mentality.  Sometimes it hits during Week 2, sometimes it hits during December.

This year is different.  This year, I have committed to things outside of November.  I have committed to posting things starting December 1st (this does mean that I’m doing editing for NaNoWriMo, but I also am using a project I had already started before November, so I’ve broken all the rules here).

So I’m not going to let Week 2 hit me.  I am here to make something I like, that I believe in.  I’m not going to back down from my project or think that it needs to be completely redone.  Everything that I’m writing has a purpose.  Even if I don’t use those exact words, they got me to the place that I wanted to be.

And if you’re struggling with how you’re going to go forward, just know that everyone is unhappy with their work at some point.  You don’t have to write perfect words here and now.  In fact, you shouldn’t be writing perfect words right now.  There’s a lot of work that goes into everything that you do.  Whether you’re a professional author or someone that just wants to write fanfiction, you’re doing fucking fantastic.

For a personal update, week one of NaNoWriMo came with a lot of things in the rest of my life.  I’m not sure where to begin or if I want to talk about it here.  There’s a lot of turmoil that’s making it hard to focus when it comes to things like NaNoWriMo.  But that’s how life goes.  Sometimes it just deals you a hard hand.  Sometimes you have to muddle your way through it. 

If life has hit you during NaNoWriMo (or if it does in the future), be kind to yourself.  November comes back eventually.  You can write whenever.  But the life that you live only happens once.  People you love are only around for so long.  Your health will come before anything else.

I know this is another rambly blog and that it isn’t really all that professional looking.  But also, it’s November.  All of my brain is on the project that I’m working on.  I’ll try to make my book reviews a tad more classy, but until the end of November, it’s just going to be one hot mess of thoughts while I work on writing a lot for NaNoWriMo.  I’m over 20k as of the 9th, which means I’m very far ahead.  How did I get here?  I don’t know.  But I’m proud.

NaNoWriMo Begins

 Oh man, it’s only the beginning of the month. I feel like November started so abruptly and then it was all happening at once. NaNoWriMo is going strong and there’s a lot of things happening outside of all of this. I’m just not sure how it’s all going to work out, but I’m sure that I’ll find something interesting to do in the future. Right now, I’m happy where I am. I’m happy where I can hang out on my couch and watch my cat snooze away. She’s been a little bit clingy now that it’s getting cold again and I can’t blame her. I like having her around when the temperature is low. But that’s beside the point.

NaNoWriMo is in full swing for me and I think I’ve found myself already pretty far ahead. I don’t mind being ahead, but I am days ahead of where I thought I would be. That just puts a little less pressure on me, but I’ll see how long I keep up this pace. There’s so much that I could do. There’s a lot that I could attempt to do, but I also know that there’s only so much time in the day for what I’m doing. The time crunch is keeping me productive.

This is gonna be one of those very rambly blog posts. I’m not sure what else to talk about. I’ve been thinking about so much, but none of it has really been that helpful to my personal thoughts. No, most of my thoughts have just been rambles about the story that I’m working on.

I’m also working on not abandoning my well being and this blog, but again, we’ll see what really happens at the end of the month. Ugh, there’s nothing else that I really want to talk about. There’s a lot happening, but nothing worth sharing here.

Good luck to the rest of you that are participating this month!

Also last minute note, but there will be no book review this week. I just haven’t had a chance to catch up on all my reading.

Twas The Night Before the Night Before NaNoWriMo…

 So I’m putting this up today instead of tomorrow because I will be very busy tomorrow worrying about a whole lot of stuff, so this seemed like the best way to make sure that everything was going to get put up at a good time with good thoughts.  What’s happening, you might be asking yourself if you somehow also skipped the title of this blog post?

NaNoWriMo is here again.  It’s time to get writing.  What am I working on?  It’s a secret because I don’t want my name associated with the project until I’m at a better point with the materials and I feel good about having it online.  Will that mean that this is good?  No.  This whole project could be a disaster, but that’s not the point of the month.  The point is to do a whole bunch of writing and do something that you’re happy to do at the end of the day.  And even if I’m not happy, I’ll have gotten myself some better writing habits (even if it only lasts for a little while).

I’m just excited about everything that’s going on.  I’m so happy to be back to NaNoWriMo.  While life has been hectic in nearly other facet of my life, I know how to handle NaNoWriMo.  It honestly even helps with my budgeting because I spend a lot more time meal prepping for the month than I normally would for a regular month.  It does mean that I get a little bit lazy with some of my meals (IE bagged salads instead of making my own), but I’m working on adding some new things to what I’m doing like making my own salad dressing and making soups from scratch to have instead of just buying canned things.  I should survive the month, but I guess it’ll just look like a really long hiatus if I don’t make it.  Good luck figuring out which one is hwich.

Beyond what I do this month, I’m going to try and do some other things to make this a little bit more fun.  I’m not just going to be working on the project that I have in mind.  No I’m going to be taking the time to do something else this month while I’m writing.  I’ll be putting together something that will sound a little bit weird.  But I think it will work for this month, just based on the way that everything has gone in the past.

Instead of two posts a week, one being a life update and the second being a book review, we’re going to do three posts a week.  I’ll have a post about what I’m doing that week for NaNo, where I am with all of the goals that I’ve been working on, and what’s going in other media that I’m looking at.  Then I’ll also be providing a sort of spot check during the week.  It’ll be something different than what I normally do and should be a good way to show that there’s nothing simple about the writing process and what it really looks like.  I’ve spent 9 years doing NaNoWriMo and I’ve had my mixes of wins and failures.  I know what it looks to excel, be mediocre, and to fail miserably.  I know that everyone is going to look at the challenge different and not everyone is going to feel comfortable with the way that I approach the challenge.

But the point is to show people just how much work and effort goes into writing.  This won’t just be a way for them to see something ridiculous.  This will be a way for them to understand that writing is hard work and it takes a lot of work, a metric ton of work to really get something down on paper.  And even after that, you’re going to be spending more of your time working on getting that thing perfect after the fact.  It isn’t so simple as just getting it out there and sending it off to the agent.

Bluh.  I rambled a lot during this because I’m trying out some new things in 4thewords, which meant that I couldn’t edit while I was going.  I’m going to post this post like this because I can’t give up anymore of my time to editing right now.  I’ve got so many little things to get done before we start out writing journeys soon.