RTW # 173: Best Book o’ March

I’m trying to get back on board with YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday’s. Considering the fact that I had spring break this month, and a decent reading list, I actually have an answer to this week’s prompt!

This Week’s Topic: What was the best book you read in March?

This month I had several fantastic reads. I hope to get the chance to write up something about them, because it was a great month for reading. Runner-ups include

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert Heinlein

I also have Prodigy, by Marie Lu on my TBR list, and I am halfway through I am the messenger, by Marcus Zusak. Both were books that I didn’t get a chance to read over spring break, and despite my astronomical school load, I can’t bear to send them back to the library without finishing them. In the war between reading books and getting schoolwork done, I think sleep is the losing party.

But what was the best one of March? That honor belongs to the incomparable Maggie Stiefvater, and her first book in the Raven Cycle, “The Raven Boys”

Goodreads description

This. Read it. Now.

This book surprised me, more than anything. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it–in fact, the only reason I picked it up was because The Scorpio Races was one of my favorite reads all last year.

I tend to not do well with complicated mythology/books that have to be explained to me. I dislike characters when they have to explain things in unrealistic ways because that’s how the author gets his/her exposition across to the reader. It kills a book to have a paragraphical explanation inserted into an otherwise-decent character because things have to be explained regardless of the appropriateness of the thing coming from the aforementioned character. Confused yet?

Because I was not. Maggie’s characters are far beyond “otherwise-decent.” She was able to get into the heads of four different characters, allowing the central mythology to be realistically explained from the various perspectives. I loved how we got a first-person viewpoint of the “corpse road” from Blue, and then gradual explanations of the “ley lines” from Gansey and Adam, resulting in the  meshing of the different perspectives as you realized they were describing/interacting with the same thing.

The Characters:

I loved Maggie’s characters. Particularly as regards the four main boys and Blue, they were fifty shades of real. I loved how she was able to show how complicated Gansey was, and yet how he still came across as the quintessential rich boy from Blue’s perspective. It was a little surprising to have so much of Gansey explained from Adam’s perspective, but it worked because Gansey was still consistent as a character. I always had a hard time when an author would tell me about a character and then show them acting completely differently in other scenes. In this case, the tell-and-show is consistent; every action lined up perfectly with every description.

The only person this didn’t work with was Barrington Whelk. The tell-about-him sections gave the impression of a well-rounded character, and the writing from his viewpoint was suitably despairing, but I didn’t feel as much remorse for him at the end as I think I should have. He was set up as a three-dimensional character, but it sort of fell flat at the end. He wasn’t quite as engaging or dynamic as the main characters, or even any of the residents of 300 Fox Way–Maura, Persephone, Calla, and Neeve were all less-described characters who held their own as soon as they walked onto the page.

The Rest:

The town of Henrietta felt old and new at the same time, perfectly fitting the central mythology. Before I read the book I saw some complaints about the pacing; personally, I loved getting to know the characters so much that I never felt like it was dragging at any point. A lot is left open for the remaining books, but there is definite closure. There’s also the perfect, absolutely loaded last line that knocks you upside the head and reminds you that this is not over yet.

Summary:

In case I haven’t gushed enough: the best part of this book is the five main characters. They are real, and no description I give can fully convey how true they are. Initially set up as line-item teens–the bad boy, the lurking shadow, the resentful sidekick, President Cell-Phone, and the odd girl out…each of them are far more than they seem. (Breakfast club, anyone?) The relationship between the boys is exactly the sort of closeness and complexity and dysfunctionality that it should be, and Blue is a perfect stand-your-ground character; she isn’t swallowed up by the pre-existing dynamics of the Raven Boys group.

So, go read it.

What’s your favorite book of March? If you’ve already read The Raven Boys, what did you think?

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Telling The Truth On A Tuesday

I usually try to pick five. You know, like: Here are five random things that are in my face today. Current events, tv-show hangovers, something food related…that’s how it typically rolls. But today? I’m not really in the mood for skim-my-brain truths.

Let’s be honest: how often do we actual tell the truth? I mean, we all seem to walk around with a standard-issue “I’m fine” stamped on our foreheads. We get asked how our day is going, but we rarely tell the truth about it. If we do, we often leave the conversation disgusted with ourselves for pouring out our misery on someone else; all the while, the someone else is completely flabbergasted that so-and-so might actually be having a bad day.

Am I allowed to have a bad day? Please say yes. Please tell me that I am cleared to look you in the eye and say: “Today sucks.” Because, truthfully, some days are genuinely bad. Some days we wake up feeling like we got run over by a bus. Some days we wake up expecting something great to happen and it doesn’t. Some days we open the shades and find the sun actually isn’t shining today.

When those days happen, I really tend to withdraw from social media. Because it all seems so shallow. It’s those skim-the-brain truths that show up on my news feed, and some days I am really not interested. You had cold pizza for breakfast? I apologize to your stomach. Some monikered celebrity wore another above-my-pay-grade outfit? My bank account is choking. Another financial/political/gossip/housewife/child/religious/insert-your-own-descriptor-here scandal occurred in the six hours since I last checked the web? Hey, my phone died. Give me a break.

Sometimes I think we genuinely need to pull back. I remember coming home from a military funeral; a Navy Seal’s funeral. It was for a cousin that I had never met, one who had always been deployed. Now I watched his dog refuse to leave the casket. I saw his family and relatives I knew, weeping for him. I saw his brothers-in-arms pound their trident pins into his coffin.  I cried, and I came home, exhausted. Out of habit, I opened my computer, logged on to Facebook. Saw the miles of drivel occasionally interspersed by a thoughtful word. And I couldn’t take it. I logged out, and was off for several months.

But then there are times when we need someone to draw us back in. Sure, it’s easy to dismiss the entirety of the outside world as sensationalized news, but that would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. We need to be reminded to care. I know I don’t need to know who’s who in the celebrity world, but I do need to know about social and moral issues that are important to me. I want to know what the Supreme Court is ruling about. I want to know about the latest budget negotiations. I want to know about the heroes in our communities. I need to be reminded of things and people outside of myself. So, yeah, I’m going to check the news. I’m going to take it with a grain of salt and copious quantities of alcohol….I’m kidding. I’ll try to read it with an open mind. I’ll call a friend. I’ll pray. I’ll do something other than shut the shades on the dark, dark world.

Some days we need to be reminded that the sun is shining elsewhere. That the world is still spinning. If you can do that through a Google News feed, fine (although I warn you: it gets depressing pretty fast). If you can do that through an honest conversation with a friend, even better. If you can do it through a blog post dump, join the club. Most often I need to find it between the pages of my Bible. It reminds me to be honest: yeah, today is rough. But yes, the sun is still shining.

So here’s today, truthfully:

1. I feel like I’ve been run over by an eighteen-wheeler. There must be a Rae-size impression on an asphalt road somewhere, because I woke up this morning feeling distinctly squashed.

2. I’m really struggling in one of my school classes. My comprehension is somewhere on a  scale of zero to nil, and I’m barely managing my 4.0. It’s all sorts of frustrating.

3. I have some unresolved issues with people, but I never know how to deal with them. The elephant in the room showed up again this morning, and I was left wondering if the other person was aware that things have changed between us/may always be different? Is it one of those conversations that I’ll never have? Have they moved on? Should I?

4. I am more like my mother than I will ever admit. Every criticism I carry of her is a reflection on myself, and it should keep me far more humble than I allow it to.

5. The moment I forget everything that God has done and will do in my life is the moment that the sun stops shining in my world.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed

That I would see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13

Worn

“Worn” by Tenth Avenue North

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I’m too week
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

And my prayers are wearing thin
I’m worn even before the day begins
I’m worn I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn so heaven so come and fluid my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Yes all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

Tell The Truth Tuesday

1. I slept 30+ hours this weekend, and I’m still tired. I think something is wrong with me.

2. I’m on spring break this week, so technically I can go play volleyball tonight with my peeps…but I’m not sure I want to go? I should, but I’m feeling lazy.

3. The Divergent casting news has got me excited all over again.

4. I really want to do the Blogging from A to Z challenge, but I’m not sure that I could keep up with all of it.

5. All of my snow is melting, and I’m the only one who is sad about it.

(reaction gif’d!)

How is your Tuesday?

 

Still Young

 

“Still Young” by Neon Trees

 
Love is a game that we could play
Even only for today
I don’t wanna lose you
We’ve been apart for far too long
Now we only have a song
Let the music move you
There was a part of me
That never left a part of you
I wish I could be everything you wanted

But I’m still young
Wide-eyed and hopeless
Yeah I’m still young
I want your devotion to this
Can we kiss like we do in my head
Can we dance like we do on my bed
Oh, like we’re still young

Love is a loss that we incur
When we gamble with the world
I don’t wanna lose you
I feel my life has just begun
I can hear you singalong
Now the music’s in you
There was a part of me
That never left a part of you
I wish I could be everything you wanted

But I’m still young
Wide-eyed and hopeless
Yeah I’m still young
I want your devotion to this
Can we kiss like we do in my head
Can we dance like we do on my bed
Oh, like were still young

Baby don’t you cry
I won’t tell you lies
I’ll just sit and sing you lullabies, lullabies

Baby don’t you cry
I won’t tell you lies
I’ll just sit and sing you lullabies

‘Cause I’m still young
Wide eyed and hopeless
Yeah I’m still young
I want your devotion to this
Can we kiss like we do in my head
Can we dance like we do on my bed
Oh, like we’re still young, young, young (wide-eyed and hopeless)
Young, young, young, young (I want your devotion to this)