Oct 20, 2014

The Raven Cycle Discussion

Covers for The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Raven Cycle Discussion
Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the long-awaited third book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series, is published tomorrow. To mark the occasion, I invited some blogging friends — Aarti, Jenny, Memory and Teresa — to join me at Lady Business to discuss the series and speculate wildly about all the ways in which the third book is going to break our hearts.

Because the one thing that makes bookish excitement even better is sharing it, I’d love nothing better than for other fellow Raven Cycle fans to join us in comments with their own hopes and dreams and fears for the rest of the series. As you can probably guess, our post is full of spoilers for The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, but it was written before any of us got our hands on Blue Lily, Lily Blue, so rest assured that there are no spoilers for that.

Has anyone read Blue Lily, Lily Blue yet? I’ve been gnashing my teeth over my delayed pre-order and fighting the temptation to just look for it in bookshops on my lunch break in case any have it out early.

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Sep 28, 2014

Dragging My Heels into Autumn

pile of pumpkins at a market stall
Dragging My Heels into Autumn
For the second year in a row I find myself facing the end of summer with a sinking heart. It used to be that by September I was more than ready to welcome autumn, but moving somewhere more northerly has made a lot of difference. Now the end of the months of long and occasionally even sunny days really gets me down. I think a September holiday in a warm place was a mixed blessing in this regard — on the one hand I clung to thoughts of Greece to help me ignore the first turning leaves, but on the other hand when I came back the turning of the season felt all the more abrupt. It’s taking a lot of happy, apple-y and pumpkin-ish thoughts to counterbalance that.

A part of focusing on the pleasures of autumn is of course making a list of suitably dark and spooky novels to enjoy throughout October. Unlike last year, I’m going to stay away from overambitious plans, even if sometimes they’re their own reward. Instead I thought I’d just share a brief list of mostly recent library finds that seem to fit the bill. It’s only looking at them now that I realise most of the covers have a similar sort of feel, which I think is a good visual representation of what I’m in the mood for around this time of year.


  • Midnight is a Place by Joan Aiken: I adore Joan Aiken, and this has been on my TBR pile for far too long. Here’s the publisher’s blurb:
    Lucas is lonely. Orphaned and sent to live with his formidable guardian in a vast mansion, he longs for a friend. Then Anna-Marie arrives. She's spoilt and wilful - and practically half his age. Lucas feels more alone than ever. But one night something terrible happens. Lucas and Anna-Marie face a terrifying and treacherous ordeal, alone in the hostile city streets. Together, they must fight to survive...
  • The Quick by Lauren Owen: I was seduced by the comparisons to Wilkie Collins on the back cover. It could go either way, but if it’s as good as I hope I’ll be so happy. Blurb:
    You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick –

    But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.

    It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.
  • The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough: The beautiful cover art is entirely responsible for my interest in this one. It was in our General Fiction section, but the blurb certainly makes it sound dark:
    A woman sits at her father's bedside watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters - all traumatised in their own ways, their bonds fragile - have been there for the past week, but now she is alone.
    And that's always when it comes.
    As the clock ticks in the darkness, she can only wait for it to find her...
  • In the Woods by Tana French: Finally? This has been recommended to me hundreds of times over the years, and all the praise The Secret Place received this year as a reminder that I ought to make time for it.
    When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.

    Twenty years on, Rob Ryan - the child who came back - is a detective in the Dublin police force. He's changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl's body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.
  • Lastly, The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle: Another cover that drew my eye.
    Ever since his father disappeared when he was nine years old, Ian Kennedy has had a penchant for stories about missing people - and a knack for finding them. Now he's a private investigator with an impressive track record. But when a woman enters his office and asks him to find her lost daughter, Ian faces a case he fears he cannot solve.

    Laura Lensky's stunning twenty-one-year-old daughter, Peri, has been missing for over two years - a lifetime, under the circumstances. But when Ian learns the details of her disappearance, he discovers eerie parallels to an obscure Celtic myth - and to the haunting case that launched his career, an early success he's never fully been able to explain...

    A stack containing the books listed above

    How about you? Any October reading plans? And any strategies to stay cheerful during the cold, dark months?
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    Sep 26, 2014

    P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

    P.S. Be Eleven by Rita-Williams Garcia

    P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
    Today I’m over at Lady Business with my second contribution to the excellent A More Diverse Universe: a discussion of Rita Williams-Garcia’s P.S. Be Eleven with Jodie. For once our post is not a spoilers fest, even if this book is a sequel to One Crazy Summer — mainly because these are not very spoilable novels. So feel free to head over and read all about why Williams-Garcia is such a smart, nuanced writer, and why we were both in awe of how she approaches the Civil Rights era and questions of race and gender that remain relevant to this day.

    A More Diverse Universe 2014 logo

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    Sep 23, 2014

    A Visit to the Dodecanese, part two: Symi

    As promised, I’m following up my Rhodes post with a virtual tour of the island of Symi, which is easily one of the prettiest places I’ve visited so far. The harbour area is a bit like an Alpine mountain town, except by the Mediterranean rather than by snowy peaks. We didn’t plan to go initially because to be honest we didn’t known about it — I'm so glad we discovered it in time and made the effort to go in the end.

    I shall let the pictures speak for themselves:

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    Sep 22, 2014

    A Visit to the Dodecanese, part one: Rhodes


    Time for another let’s-pretend-this-is-a-travel-blog post (sorry!): last week I was on holiday in the Greek islands of Rhodes and Symi, where I had the most wonderful time. The only literary connection I can make here is that I was raised on a heavy diet of Greek mythology, and the Ancient World looms very large on my imagination — I always like to see where stories I care about come from, and it’s more exciting than I can say to visit places whose names I’ve known for so long. However, I know next to nothing about contemporary Greek literature, and the trip sprung up on me before I had the chance to investigate. Suggestions, anyone?

    Rhodes was an excellent match for my interests: it combines beautiful beaches with lots of opportunities for historical sightseeing. As much as I love the sea, my ideal holiday is one where I get to spend half my time lounging and reading on the beach and the other half exploring — and here I had the chance to do just that. The Old Town of Rhodes is a World Heritage Site and the oldest continually inhabited medieval town in Europe; plus the island is full of monuments from different historical periods: Ancient, Byzantine, Knights of Saint John, and Ottoman.

    Also, there were a lot of cats — so many that I went from delighted to see them to worried about them (well, I never stopped being delighted, but you know). Some obviously belonged to the houses on those doorsteps they were sleeping; others not so. I wanted to bring half of them home.
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