Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

I bought this book when it was first released and started reading it immediately.  But then I stopped.  Why?  It's going to sound crazy, but I'll tell you anyway.

When I read a book with an amazing plot, wonderful characters, and just sheer beauty embodied on the pages, I will often stop halfway through reading it the first time.  Because that way the story isn't over, it can't end, and I won't have to stop living in this gorgeous world that someone else created.

That's how it was with The Raven Boys.

Blue is a mostly ordinary girl living in a house full of psychics.  She's been told all her life that when she kisses her true love, he will be dead within a year.  Blue has no psychic abilities of her own, but she somehow augments abilities in others, so she's usually present for readings that her mother and aunts give.

Gansey is a boy obsessed with finding Glendower, the lost king of Wales.  He's smart, rich, and charming and Blue is predisposed to dislike him on general principles.

Somehow, the two of them and Gansey's friends, Ronan, Noah, and Adam, come together to search for Glendower.

Maggie Stiefvater's writing style is, if anything, improving with each book.  I liked the Mercy Falls series.  I really liked The Scorpio Races.  And I loved The Raven Boys.  Ms. Stiefvater has an elegant, spare way of turning a phrase that I both covet and admire.  Her writing is smooth and economical, and the story flows smoothly.

I loved the characters and their development.  Adam, as proud as he is poor.  Noah, the forlorn fifth wheel.  Ronan, with his aggressive tattoos and barely contained temper, hiding a tragedy in his past.  Gansey, who can't help his riches or his charm, who only wants one thing; to find Glendower.  And Blue, who saw Gansey on the corpse road and knows that he is destined to die within a year.

The pacing is smooth and develops quickly without feeling rushed.  Once I was back into the book, I couldn't read fast enough, even knowing that I'd have to leave their world at the end.

This is my first official book review on my blog, and I think it's fitting to kick it off with a 5 star one.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is available at and other fine booksellers.  I was not provided with a free copy for the purpose of this review.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

In which I thank the bullies

There is a repulsive website whose sole purpose for existence is to "protect" those poor authors who can't handle a bad/sarcastic/meanypants review of their book, whether on GoodReads or Amazon.  (I will not link to their site - the last thing I want is more traffic to them.  If you must find them, feel free to Google 'em.)

They claim to want to "stop the GoodReads bullies", and then turn around and break so many of their own rules that I wonder why their heads haven't exploded from their inconsistencies.

For example, here's their list of what compromises a bully:

And yet, completely ignoring their own lovely list, they have harassed many reviewers, humiliating and insulting them, gossiping, calling them names, and teaming up on anyone who seems to be getting too big for their britches.

When I first discovered the site and began reading up on their "activities", I was pretty much like this throughout:

Well, except for being black and having facial hair.  Otherwise we could be twins.

But in the art of war, one must know one's enemies.  Sun Tzu probably said that; he was pretty badass.

So I read more of their site.  I found a wonderful, farcical "review" that Kat Kennedy did tongue in cheek and the STGRB posted on their website as being 100% straight up and not a farce at all.

Poor Kat.  Although with "enemies" like these, I'm sure she's not losing much sleep over them.

But to get to my point, they have links along one side of their homepage with names of authors/bloggers/reviewers to avoid.  They don't include the actual links, so I had to do some homework, but thanks to STGRB, I now have at least seven new blogs that I follow and greatly enjoy.

A sampling of them:

Stop the STGRB! Fun place for all your popcorn and drama needs.

Sweaters for Days and Moves Like Jagger. One of my favorites.

Cuddlebuggery  Another favorite.  This one has GREAT reviews, great reviewers, and a fun online community.

The Romantic Goldfish  One that STGRB considers "scary/run/fast".  I admit I just found her, but I'm having a great time reading the archives.

Dear Author  This one has a lot of reviews, because it's a collective of people writing.  Reviews are honest and never bullying, and they're always fresh and interesting.

The Bawdy Book Blog  Ooh, here's one I like!  Keep an eye on them, because I'm hoping to have some of my stuff posted there for one of their Indie Spotlights.

So THANKS, STGRB!!  I know you didn't mean to, but you guys have found me a bunch of GREAT new blogs to enjoy and meet new people on.

(Plus, any excuse to put the Hiddles on my blog.  Because YUM.)

Drama Llamas

It's something that not everyone wants to admit, but almost everyone enjoys a good bit of drama now and then.  Who doesn't like having their boring 9-5 day spiced up with a little mudslinging, as long as none of the mud lands on them?

I'm no different.  I can admit that.  I enjoy a good meltdown, although I almost never partake in them.

Come on, they're fun, right?  Tempers flare, rash words get said that really shouldn't have been said and make the onlookers go all:

It's true.  We all do it.  Until we're in the middle of it.  It's been a long time since I was at the heart of a controversy, and never since becoming an author and putting my work out for others to read and possibly revile.

But drama is the one thing you're never going to be able to completely avoid if you plan on having a public profile.  The question is how are you going to handle yourself when the shitstorm is suddenly revolving around you.

See that "hole" in the middle there?  That's the eye of the storm, the calm center.  All around it, chaos is raging, but right there?  Right there things are serene, peaceful in the midst of the turmoil.

That's my lesson of the day, if you're interested.  After having seen so many shitstorms exploding all over GoodReads and Amazon's forums, after witnessing author meltdowns ranging from spectacular to nuclear to just kinda sad, I just want to urge you to be more like the eye of the storm.

I know it's harder when you're in the middle of it.  People are saying things.  Mean things.  They're attacking you and your precious creation, the one you sweated bullets to bring into being.  And it hurts.

We do, though.  And the absolute only thing to do when controversy starts getting going is to stay above it.  Oh, and maybe, just maybe, don't start it yourself.  

Obey the purple striped lady with the freakishly huge hand and don't start shit.  Seriously, people, don't complain that you're not getting enough good reviews on your books, don't call them names, don't rant about how ungrateful they are.

Stay humble.  Stay professional.  Appreciate your readers.  And leave the drama llamas out in the pasture, okay?

Because seriously, that one there looks like she will cut a bitch.