June 22, 2016

Cover Reveal + Q&A: A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White

As longtime readers of the blog know, I am a full-fledged Ellen Emerson White fangirl and have been for something going on time immemorial. What this means is that a few years ago, having just finished reading my local library's copy of The Road Home for the second time in as many daysI sat on the couch, brandished the book at my newlywed husband, and told him I was seriously considering never returning it (my conscience did eventually kick in and I meekly returned the library copy—after managing to procure a copy of my own, naturally). 

What this means is I went on to purchase an obscene number of out of print copies of the same title (before it was available as an e-book) and proceeded to send them winging their way across the globe to homes where I knew they were needed. 

What this means is that I refer to Ms. White's characters by their first names in casual conversation (pretty much on a daily basis) with friends and family members, and they automatically know exactly which Meg, Rebecca, Beverly, and Michael I'm talking about. 

What this means is that when I was offered the chance to host the official cover reveal for Ellen's upcoming novel—A Season of Daring Greatly—I was forced to take a moment and compose myself before responding in the unequivocal, if vehement, affirmative. 

And so without further ado, feast your eyes on this beauty:


ABOUT THE BOOK

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Class A Short Season in the New York-Penn League . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there.

On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?
Q&A WITH ELLEN EMERSON WHITE

How did the inspiration for A Season of Daring Greatly strike?
I’m not sure I have ever written a main character who wasn’t driven, at some level, by athleticism. I’m an inveterate jock and a big baseball person, so, in retrospect, I’m surprised I didn’t write this book years ago. It would seem to be a perfect blending of vocation, and avocation. But, it turned out to be surprisingly difficult to write—possibly because she is so very tall. It’s subtle, but tall people look at the world differently.  I very much hope that we see women playing professional baseball soon, but I want them to be serious, driven athletes, and not novelty acts.

Your books are often about young women who break the boundaries society tries to set for them. What do you think draws you to writing those kind of young women?
I have never intentionally set out to do that—but, I’m guessing that it is probably engrained in my personality. I revere laws—but, I hate rules, and women inevitably seem to come up against a lot of rules, many of which are unspoken, and all of which are tedious. So, I just ignore them, and my characters seem to share that temperament. It’s fun to write about people doing interesting things.

All of the details of Jill’s life on the team feel so authentic and vivid. Did you spend time with minor league baseball teams while you were writing A Season of Daring Greatly?
The thing about talking about book research is that you run the danger of slipping into a “pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain” area. I have never been a writer who interviews people—ever—and I don’t have anyone read the manuscripts, at any pre-publication stage. (I am barely even comfortable letting my agent and editors read my manuscripts—but, that is purely because of nerves.) My process is very internal, and I go out of my way not to analyze it, or give it too much thought, for fear of getting in my own way—which has always been something I do with astonishing skill and regularity. Unfortunately. I will say that I spend a lot of time around baseball at different levels, and have for many years. I have worked with professional baseball players in several different capacities, and I do a lot of sports photography, professionally and otherwise, particularly baseball and softball. I also coach a male 14U baseball team in East Harlem. (I love my team. No one is ever allowed to say anything bad about my team.)

Jill knows how to pitch, but while the physical demands of being a pro are tough, they’re really nothing compared to the pressure and emotional demands, are they?
She’s also only eighteen, and doesn’t come from a sports-loving family, so that makes her life even more complicated. Baseball is challenging, but trying to learn how to be some version of a normal person, while standing under a very bright spotlight, is even harder. The personality you need to be an elite athlete isn’t necessarily compatible with being a friendly and approachable role model. Jill’s walking on extremely thin ice, all day, every day—and that wears on you, after a while. In many ways, this is a sort of going away to college book—being away from home for the first time, having to learn how to take care of yourself, not knowing anyone, missing your family, and so forth. She has the added pressure of so many people wanting her to fail, and that if she does, it will be in an incredibly public way.

In the words of President Bartlet, “What’s next?”
A sequel, I hope. I think there is still a lot of story left to tell, with these characters, and I’m eager to get back to them. Until I actually write a book, I really have no idea what happens next, and I’m very curious to find out. The President’s Daughter books are out in e-book now, which is fun—since we’re now, finally, looking at the prospect of possibly having a female President.

CONNECT WITH ELLEN

PRE-ORDER A SEASON OF DARING GREATLY

June 13, 2016

Gambled Away Blog Tour + Giveaway!

I'm always delighted to have Rose Lerner visit the blog because she writes some of my very favorite historical romances. Today's visit is special because I get to take part in the blog tour for Gambled Away—a brand new anthology of novellas featuring women and men who find themselves wagered in a game of chance. 
Get revenge. Pay a debt. Save a soul. Lose your heart.

Spanning centuries and continents, five brand-new novellas from beloved historical romance authors tell the stories of men and women who find themselves wagered in a game of chance and are forced to play for the highest stakes of all: love.

“Gideon and the Den of Thieves” by Joanna Bourne London, 1793 – Soldier of fortune Gideon Gage has come home from halfway around the world, fully prepared to face down a ruthless gang to save his sister. But there’s one member of the gang he could never have been prepared for: fascinating Aimée, driven from her own home by the French Revolution and desperately in need of his help.

“Raising The Stakes” by Isabel Cooper California, 1938 — When the flute she won in last night’s poker game unexpectedly summons an elven warrior bound to her service, two-bit con artist Sam takes quick advantage. With Talathan’s fairy powers at her command, her shakedown of a crooked preacher is a sure thing…but would she rather take a gamble on love?

“All or Nothing” by Rose Lerner England, 1819 – Architect Simon Radcliffe-Gould needs someone to pose as his mistress so he can actually get some work done at a scandalous house party. Irrepressible gambling den hostess Maggie da Silva would rather be his mistress, but she’ll take what she can get…

“The Liar’s Dice” by Jeannie Lin Tang Dynasty China, 849 A.D. — Lady Bai’s first taste of freedom brings her face to face with murder. A dangerous and enigmatic stranger becomes her closest ally as she investigates the crime, but can she trust her heart or her instincts when everyone is playing a game of liar’s dice?

“Redeemed” by Molly O’Keefe Denver, 1868 — After agonizing years in the Civil War’s surgical tents, Union doctor James Madison has nothing left to lose. But when beautiful, tortured Helen Winters is the prize in a high-stakes game of poker, he goes all in to save her—and maybe his own soul.
Please welcome Rose Lerner!

***

Maggie da Silva, my heroine in "All or Nothing" (the novella I contributed to the Gambled Away anthology), is a little bit of a Regency hipster. She and her friend Meyer Hennipzeel run a seedy gambling den on the outskirts of London with a French Revolution theme. They dress in flashy 1780s and 90s vintage fashion and decorate with once-opulent, now hopelessly passé furniture.

I got the idea because I learned while researching my last book (about a maid and a valet) that working-class people during the Regency still wore essentially eighteenth-century styles even though haute couture had completely changed its entire silhouette in the meantime. (You can see an 1805 engraving illustrating this posted by Isobel Carr here.) This was probably largely because new clothes were so expensive, but it means that everyday people were wearing had a lot more variety of style and silhouette than what you'd see at Almack's, where everyone was wearing this year's fashions.

Which means someone must have been reusing those lavish 1790s clothes full of embroidery and stripes and enormous buttons!

When I looked for recognizable elements of hipsterism in the Regency, I started to spot them here and there. A certain angry "counter-cultural" world-weariness, love of irony, and cynical fascination with excess seems to pop up with regularity in history--from the Restoration rakes, to the French decadent poets who liked to épaterla bourgeoisie (shock the middle class) by writing poems about anarchy and sex workers or walking turtles on leashes at the mall (yes this was a thing), to the Bright Young Things of the 1920s and 30s.

Is it a coincidence that those examples all follow on the heels of traumatizing periods of economic depression, social upheaval, or war? Probably not. The most notable hipsters from around the Regency period are the Incroyables and Merveilleuses from the French Directoire. Wikipedia says:

Whether as catharsis or in a need to reconnect with other survivors of the Reign of Terror, they greeted the new regime with an outbreak of luxury, decadence, and even silliness. They held hundreds of balls and started fashion trends in clothing and mannerisms that today seem exaggerated...

Ornate carriages reappeared on the streets of Paris the day after the execution (28 July 1794) of Maximilien Robespierre...There were masters and servants once more in Paris, and the city erupted in a furor of pleasure-seeking and entertainment. Theaters thrived, and popular music satirized the excesses of the Revolution...

Many public balls were bals des victimes at which young aristocrats who had lost loved ones to the guillotine danced in mourning dress or wore black armbands, greeting one another with violent movements of the head as if in decapitation.

(Kate Beaton first pointed out the connection between Incroyables and hipsters to me in this glorious comic, by the way.)

Some illustrations of incroyable fashion: [1] [2] [3] and my favorite [4]. 

But my very favorite Regency hipster will always be the author of a short 1818 book about cravat tying, Neckclothitania (which is a pun, because the subtitle is “Tietania” ahahahaha!).


The author, who identifies himself only as "one of the cloth", is definitely both a very sincere cravat connoisseur and...a guy who knows how ridiculous that is and wants to make sure you know he knows. He gives detailed instructions and illustrations for a number of different knots and offers the best color of cloth to go with each one (which is how I found out that “thigh of aroused nymph” is a real Regency color name, as well as a rose varietal--just plain "thigh of nymph" roses are a less intense pink at the center).

Check out this series of jokes:

"Let any person take a stroll up and down some fashionable street of the metropolis, at the proper time of day, and remark the men who do and who do not wear starchers [i.e. starched cravats]: What a conscious sense of their own superiority in the former! What a full conviction of their own paltriness and insignificance in the latter!!

I shall now take leave of my readers, fully hoping, that they may derive some slight information, from the above few remarks which have occurred to me--If they do, I shall feel myself amply recompensed, for the sacrifice of the couple of hours which I have spent, in the composition of the foregoing pages."

Too cool for school! (But genuinely funny. I admit I got kind of fond of this douchebag by the time I got through the book. You can read the whole thing on Google books here.)

And look at this typeface choice!


To me, the most interesting thing about this kind of self-conscious irony is the attempt to distance yourself from your own enthusiasm, as a self-protective mechanism. Maggie sees and relishes the ridiculous in what she's doing, but she also very genuinely loves her club and her wardrobe. When it hits her just how ironically her patrons have been enjoying her gambling den, to what degree slumming is part of the fun, it really hurts her feelings even though that's what she's been purposefully capitalizing on.

Just say you love cravats! Own it!


What's something you love, but you get embarrassed admitting it to other people so you make it into a joke? (I'll go first--I seem to have gotten into professional wrestling over the weekend. Give me a few weeks to get to the loud and proud stage. Right now I still feel like SUCH A DORK.)

***

Thank you so much, Rose. I completely and unrepentantly own my love of cravats. Now for the giveaway! Rose is kindly offering up two copies of Gambled Away to two lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter. The giveaway will be open through Monday, June 20th. 

Find out more about the anthology here. Buy your very own copy here

June 6, 2016

White, Bright Pretties


Just in time for summer, these bright, white and colorful pretties are calling my name. I've read and loved books by two of these three authors. The other is new to me. I just want to hold them in my hands and devour their words as I'm lounging next to the pool or out for an evening drive with Aaron on one of these perfect summer nights.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I truly enjoyed Ms. Yoon's debut novel Everything, Everything, and I'm utterly delighted we'll be getting another novel from her this year. When it comes to YA romance, she has such a lovely touch. This new novel features a young woman who is a scientist and whose family is on the verge of being deported. It also features a young man who . . . well, you can guess. I can't wait.
Due out November 1st

A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff
A debut novel with one of the best titles I've heard in a long while. This is being recommended for fans of Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun, of which I am a huge fan. There are mentions of magical realism, along with a boy in a band and a girl who has never been allowed to sing. Her name is Lorelei. I think I can see where this is going, and I think I like it.
Due out September 13th

White-Hot Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves
This is the sequel to the delightful and heartfelt Heart-Shaped Hack, which I read and loved last year. Kate and Ian are back and dealing with the fallout of the sudden end of Ian's career as an undercover hacker. So more banter, more intrigue, more breakkneck action. Sign me up.
Due out June 7th

June 4, 2016

Review | A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

So. Deep breaths all around, shall we? As D.H. Lawrence said (in my favorite line from the book that taught me about the birds and the bees), "We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." And so this is my attempt at moving on, at living in the wake of a certain series that has been basically what I've lived and breathed for the last few weeks (barring the recently read and reviewed book we shall not speak of). Bear with me, if you will. I feel a bit fragile still. That said, are you tired yet of my old refrain of holding off on a series because I'm wary of the hugely positive press it's getting? I hope not. Because I present you with my latest bit of folly. A Darker Shade of Magic represents my first foray with V.E. Schwab, and I would categorize it as something along the lines of uncontrollable love at first sight.
Kell wore a very peculiar coat.

It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.

The first thing he did whenever he stepped out of one London and into another was take off the coat and turn it inside out once or twice (or even three times) until he found the side he needed. Not all of them were fashionable, but they each served a purpose. There were ones that blended in and ones that stood out, and one that served no purpose but of which he was just particularly fond.
Kell is one of the rarest of rare breeds. He is an Antari, a magician with one normal eye and one black eye, who can travel between the parallel worlds, from Grey London to Red London to White London. Though never to the forbidden Black London, where magic destroyed it all. Kell lives in Red London, where he serves at the pleasure of the King and Queen. He is even something of an adopted son to them, raised as he was alongside their son Prince Rhy. The two are close as brothers and get up to all manner of mischief together. Well, Rhy does. And Kell rabbits off after him trying to tame the prince's effulgent ways and teach him a little magic along the way. So that he will be a good king and ruler to the people of Red London. What no one but Rhy knows is that Kell breaks a few of his own rules now and then. Namely, he smuggles small items from one London to another as a form of self-entertainment and a way of fending off the loneliness. He does have one counterpart, the other Antari Holland. But Holland resides in the dreaded White London, where he is in painful servitude to the current ruthless rulers the Dane twins. But it's when Kell makes the unexpected acquaintance of one thief Delilah Bard that things really being to unravel. And when Lila finds her way from Grey London into magic-drenched Red London, she is bound and determined never to go back.

It is such a tale, you guys. Such a magnificent, charming, and desperate tale of one young magician's quest to balance who he is with what is expected of him and one young woman's drive to see (and do) everything before she dies. I fell in love with Kell on page one, with his magical red coat and his quiet intensity. And my soul was knit with Delilah Bard's the moment she came at Kell with a sword and demanded more from her life. A favorite early encounter:
She looked young, but sharp, bony in a starved-bird kind of way. The only roundness came from her eyes, both brown, but not quite the same shade. He opened his mouth, intending to start their conversation with a question, like, Will you untie me? or Where is the stone? but instead found himself saying, "One of your eyes is lighter than the other."

"And one of your eyes is black," she shot back. She sounded cautious, but not frightened. Or, if she was, she was very good at hiding it. "What are you?" she asked.

"A monster," said Kell hoarsely. "You'd better let me go."

The girl gave a small, mocking laugh. "Monsters don't faint in the presence of ladies."

"Ladies don't dress like men and pick pockets," retorted Kell.

Her smile only sharpened. "What are you really?"

"Tied to your bed," said Kell matter-of-factly.

"And?"

His brow furrowed. "And in trouble."
He isn't wrong. Kell and Lila, individually and collectively, find themselves up to their eyeballs in trouble before this tale is through. And it is all so perfectly paced, allowing the reader time enough with each character to take their measure and form (and occasionally confirm) a number of important suspicions as to who might be an ally and who might be a shadow bent on evil. I relished each jaunt into the three so hazardously different Londons, hugging my arms to my sides each time we journeyed into eerie White London, hoping we would make it back alive. V.E. Schwab knows how to structure an adventure, and this one ramps up to the most creepy and urgent of climaxes. My heart raced at every turn, and my brain tumbled ahead to sift through the consequences of certain choices that will undoubtedly play out in the sequel. A Darker Shade of Magic is fantasy of the highest order. I'm so thrilled to have discovered it and wish Kell and Lila (and Rhy) all the luck in their coming adventures. Not that they need it.

Buy
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Linkage
The Book Smugglers - "I, for one, loved every bloody second of A Darker Shade of Magic – and I cannot wait for more."
There Were Books Involved - "From its worldbuilding and characters, to its plot and pacing, A Darker Shade of Magic is complex and intense, but still balanced by aspects that had me grinning like a loon."

June 3, 2016

Review | The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

So basically all I can say is prepare yourselves, if you would. Because it's been days since I finished this one and I absolutely refuse to go quietly into the night about it. I completely adored Ms. Ahdieh's debut novel The Wrath & the Dawn. I thought it did a beautiful job of reworking an extremely problematic fairy tale to begin with, and it did so in believable and beautiful ways. I mean, I went into it frankly expecting a degree of justification for the story's subject matter. But I also was prepared to give the author the benefit of the doubt, seeing as how she went to all the trouble of retelling it for a modern audience. And my willingness was unquestionably rewarded. Which is why I was so eager to get my hands on the sequel and find out what those two people I'd thought about so much in the intervening year had been up to. I felt sure all would be well. Perilous, to be sure. Fraught, to be sure. But well.

The rubble has cleared and Khalid Ibn al-Rashid is on one side of the wreckage, while Shahrzad al-Khayzuran is on the other. Khalid is occupied night and day by helping his people rebuild their shattered city and by forcing himself not to think too much on exactly why Shahrzad left and when, if ever, she will be back. For her part, Shazi is determined not to bring any more hell raining down upon the husband she loves. And as such, that means she is forced to once again play a part. The part of dutiful lover of Tariq. The part of doting daughter and sister. The part of a woman who has come to her senses, who sees the monster king of Rey for what he is, and who is ready and willing to take part in the rebellion that is being crafted to bring about his overthrow. Reality is somewhat more difficult to discern, and it will take more than a magic carpet and a secret love to halt the war that everyone sees coming and possibly bring an end to the curse that has plagued the king and his people for so long.

So. I have a Goodreads shelf entitled "Absolute Train Wrecks." And while there is not what you might call a long list of titles on that shelf, the ones that are there are the ones that drove me to absolute distraction. They are the ones that were such a hot mess that I was forced to rant aloud to my husband and closest of friends in order to somehow process the magnitude of how wrong everything went. Unfortunately, that shelf has acquired its latest denizen. Because I literally cannot seem to overstate how disappointed/enraged/appalled I was by this book. At the 3/4 mark, I seriously considered not finishing it at all. It was bad, guys. So bad that Beth came over to help run damage control by talking it out. So bad that Aaron immediately saw the writing on the wall and took me out to see the new Captain America film to remind me that there are still good things in the world. But finish it, I did. And then I immediately cast about finding a different home for the copy I'd bought so that it wouldn't darken my door a moment longer than necessary. That's right, we're talking The Actor and the Housewife levels of anger and resentment here. I told you it was bad. 

The thing is, I felt like the tight narrative grip that held throughout the first book completely unraveled in this one, with devastating consequences. With the exception of one scene, I didn't enjoy a single moment between Shazi and Khalid. Not that they spent anything resembling enough time together. The arbitrarily enforced separation felt so manufactured to me. All the stakes could have been kept just as high had they fought together. Separately, all the tension and beauty and squabbling that made up their relationship dissipated in so much smoke. Ms. Ahdieh excels at dialogue, and yet the only people actually talking were the abruptly introduced secondary couple. I quite liked Irsa and Rahim, but the fact that their scenes wildly outshone the protagonists' left me cold and troubled. And finishing it only confirmed my conviction that this sequel, its pacing and characterization, was a slapdash effort at best. Essentially every plot point and/or "twist" in the final third felt like a cop out to me. Characters behave thoroughly inconsistently and too little is made of the few moments that should have held a lot of meaning, robbing them of any shred they might have held onto. I'm sorry, but I cry foul. Cheap emotional manipulation and sub-par storytelling was not what I witnessed in the first novel, and it was not what I expected here. But it was what I got, and when I think of it, I still feel ill. Shut it down, book. We're through. 

May 6, 2016

Choose Your Own Edition: O Pioneers!

On the heels of my search for the perfect The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I bring you my longtime search for the perfect O Pioneers! This book. This book is my very favorite Willa Cather. And that is saying something, as I consider her to be the actual Great American Novelist. I am so very grateful we made our way around to her in my tenth grade American literature class. I was so, so ready for a woman author and stories that felt like they represented the land I knew and loved, even if they hailed from time periods and life experiences entirely separate from my own. To this day, I count the first time I read O Pioneers! as one of the highlights of my life.


I currently own a somewhat battered mass market copy (I believe it's a Signet Classic) with rows and rows of hay bales on it. Which is fine. But it doesn't sing the way the cover of this beautiful book should. And so I bring you the three editions I like best and ask your humble opinion. For a long time, I've leaned toward the one on the left, with the barn and the lovely simple lettering. Then I recently ran across the middle Oxford Classics edition with Alexandra herself on it, and I'm quite taken with it as well. Alexandra. How I love her. And lastly, the brighter Penguin Classics poppies. They are all lovely in their own way. Which way do you lean?

April 30, 2016

Review | The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I thought I was done with the crying when I finished The Raven King last night at an only slightly ungodly hour. But then this morning I got up and I just didn't know what to do. And when I realized I had to sit down and write about how this book made me feel, the tears start welling up again. Honestly, Aaron will likely never let me read another series aloud to him again for all the tears he carefully wiped off my cheeks with this one. I am not a huge book crier as a rule, and I did not cry reading the other three. But it wasn't so much the sadness as it was the saying goodbye. I hate saying goodbye. Even though I am a serial rereader, there is no escaping that particular goodbye that comes at the end of a series that has meant . . . more than a lot. That contains characters I have loved the precise way I have loved these ones. These boys. That Blue. This incredible writing that makes me want to prowl the streets at night reciting passages aloud to the stars. I hated waking up this morning. Because it meant we all had to move on. And I really didn't know what to do.

I just can't see any way to avoid all the spoilers at this point, lovelies. But I do try. We have arrived at the final volume. Vos admonitos

Richard Gansey III knows. He knows this is the closest he's ever been, or may ever be, to finding Glendower. He knows if he doesn't take matters into his own hands, Ronan Lynch will most definitely not graduate Aglionby Academy. He knows the precise texture and feel of Blue Sargent's laughter on his skin. He knows Adam Parrish's bargain with the mystical forest Cabeswater could play out in even more heretofore unexpected ways than it already has. And he knows the odds are better than even he may not survive to see any of these things happen. But, being Gansey, he presses forward nonetheless, determined to find his sleeping king, extract his favor, and see the friends he loves so well possessed of the things they need to survive with or without him. And, to his continual if grateful bemusement, so do said friends. Even as a preponderance of ruthless personages come to roost in Henrietta. Even as Gansey and Blue continue to bash up against the wall that is telling their friends about their feelings for one another. Even as Ronan spends more and more time at the Barns, Adam spends more and more time with Ronan, and both of them spend more and more time within the darkening vines of Cabeswater. Even as an unusual and overeager classmate makes indefatigable advances on the tight-knit group as a whole, And so, reinforced as they are by each other, they draw inexorably closer to the uncertain fate that has always awaited them.

Depending on where you begin the story, it's about my undying love for Ronan Lynch. Ever since the very first pages of The Raven Boys, I have loved Ronan. In English. In Latin. In every single one of the languages on his crazy puzzle box. And I can't help but be utterly unsurprised (and proud, in an odd way) at how this final volume seemed to say so much of it was Ronan's story at heart.
Of all the options in the world, Ronan Lynch was the most difficult version of any of them.
Depending on where you begin the story, it's about my gut-wrenching love for Adam Parrish. Adam, too, I fell in love with on contact. While others have questioned his choices, his motivations, his endless stubborn drive and solitude, I have soaked up every one. If I had the most fears and questions when it came to Adam's fate, it was because I unquestionably identify with him the most.
Need was Adam's baseline, his resting pulse. Love was a privilege. Adam was privileged; he did not want to give it up. He wanted to remember again and again how it felt.
But no matter where you begin the story, it's about Maggie Stiefvater's astounding skill with words, her characters that live and breathe so loudly and fiercely that they feel inviolably real, and the marvelous story in which they are entwined. The Raven King clocks in at a perfectly healthy 438 pages, and it feels funny to say that the entirety of those unfold at a breakneck pace. There are, of course, those trademark moments of indolent splendor, of quiet breaths held and exhaled. But I maintain, the experience of reading the novel remains one of rushing toward a conclusion no one, the reader least of all, is prepared for. But it comes. It comes. It comes. In the sweetest and gentlest of exchanges between Gansey and Blue. In the terrifying and violent passes through Cabeswater. In the exquisite light of fireflies dotting the air around the Barns as words rise up and burst inside Ronan. If The Dream Thieves made it possible for me to love and follow Gansey by showing me why each of the boys and Blue loved and followed him, The Raven King shows Gansey why. And it was such a beautiful artistic choice—here at the end—to show the king just what he had wrought. To hold the mirror (in all its forms) up, so that he could see the beautiful and strange constellation he and his quest had made of their lives.

I wanted so much. I wanted, I wanted. And even though the previous books in the series taught me to be afraid on all possible fronts, there were moments in this one that gave me new reasons. There were also moments that surpassed my expectation with their perfect rightness. And there were new gifts, given at a point when I thought I had passed the time when I could ask for more. But I should have known better. When it comes to Stiefvater's writing and this series, there is always more. The point was the longing, the packing into a single book, into a single series, the feeling of knowing and of being known. The feeling of finding, of waking, of wanting, of home.

Buy
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Linkage
The Book Nut - "Maggie Stiefvater has come up with an ending that is so perfect for the series, that captures everything, that ends it so wonderfully, that I am genuinely sad that I will not get to visit this world again."
Gone with the Words - "When you can see little dots connecting all over the series like its own sort of ley line. It’s very rewarding."