5 Fandom Friday: My Fictional BFF’s

I tend to be a quieter person (depending on the circumstances).  I enjoy connecting with people one on one but when I’m in a large group I usually feel kind of overwhelmed and wishing I was home with a good book instead.  I’ve always been a great listener and everyone tells me I’m really supportive and I offer helpful and insightful advice.  I tend to get along best with strong-minded individuals who are more outgoing than I am.  I had such a fun time thinking of which fictional characters I would get along the best with and why I could see us being best friends.  Here’s my list!

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1) Luna Lovegood – Luna is wacky and I love her to pieces.  I would be so interested in hearing her speak about her theories and thoughts that I could picture us having plenty of tea dates together. (Sorry guys, you know I can’t go a blog post without mentioning Harry Potter at least once!)

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2) Celaena Sardothien – Caelena is such a brave and fierce heroine.  I would happy to help her do research about what could possibly be going on in the castle and I would totally cover for her when need be.1

3) Belle – Belle is more introspective than the other characters I would call my BFF’s, but I just know we would chat about books together for HOURS on end.  Plus, she seems generous and I bet she would let me walk around her library.

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4) Veronica Mars – I appreciate Veronica’s snark and I would love to be there to help her sort out her ongoing issues with Logan because they’re perfect together.

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5) Echo – Echo is hilariously snarky and puts up a strong front to protect the people she loves.  She’s loyal and caring and we have the same taste in food (plus we live in the same city which is super convenient).  I would love to be able to call her a friend!

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March 13th – My Fictional BFF’s
March 20th – My Comfort Films
March 27th – One Fandom Item Styled Five Different Ways
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Life Lately: The Final Days Of Winter

A couple of weekends ago Andrew, Carolyn and I met in Union Square to watch Melissa’s Kung Fu demonstration and belatedly celebrate Chinese New Year.  It was so much fun watching Melissa and her classmates perform (especially when they used weapons)!  It almost made me want to start practicing again.  I was enrolled in Kung Fu from kindergarten (because of my love of the Power Rangers) until 10th grade and I was one stripe away from earning my black belt before I quit in favor of wanting to spend more time with my friends.  Before the performance we watched people dressed as the three dragons dance around and accept donations for the hope of good fortune in 2015.  I particularly love the candid photo Andrew captured of us girls laughing together.

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After the demonstration we headed to one of my favorite eateries called Grey Dog.  It’s mostly frequented by NYU students but the food is delicious!  I ordered my favorite meal from there which is a Breakfast Quesadilla and Andrew and I sprung for a cocktail each.  I got the Vanilla Almond Chai Toddy and he ordered (but oh-so-graciously traded with me) a Hot Buttered Cider which was similar to Butterbeer.

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I never thought I would said this but winter is FINALLY winding down.  This past February was one of the coldest on record in NYC in YEARS and we were bombarded with snow more often than anyone who lives here was hoping for.  Granted, I guess it can be pretty or whatever, but enough is enough.  Also, Andrew looks dashing in his Sherlock-esque coat and scarf.  He ventured outside with me during one of the aforementioned storms so I could take a good photo of my book in the snow.

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Lately I’ve been collaborating with my good friend Melissa Grey (who also happens to be the author of The Girl at Midnight) and Andrew to create nail art tutorials based on book covers for YouTube.  Melissa is very talented and patient in her planning and application and watching her process has actually made me feel capable of recreating her designs on my own.  I even ordered my own nail art kit!  You can watch our first video for A Darker Shade of Magic here.  There are plenty more to come and I’m so excited to share them!

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Because of the cold weather and snow, I’ve spent the majority of my free time indoors reading, watching movies and playing video games.  Andrew and I went to GameStop together on Valentine’s Day and he bought me Majora’s Mask for 3DS and I bought him the new Ducktales game for Wii U.  He’s beaten his but I have yet to have the time to begin mine!  We have been playing Super Smash Bros. together on Wii U and that’s been a blast.  My favorite character to play as is Rosalina.  Also, our Amiibo addiction is still in full force.

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Since I’ve been inside so much, I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should.  Now that spring is on its way I’m ready to ditch some of the junk food (minus Ben & Jerry’s, Cadbury mini eggs, cupcakes and the occasional macaron because obviously) and start eating more fruits and veggies.

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I’ve also decided to start taking advantage of more of the events that NYC has to offer!  It’s so easy to let work and extracurricular work (blog, YouTube, etc) get in the way of going out and experiencing things and I’m determined to participate more, especially since the weather is becoming more bearable.  Last week I attended The Winner’s Crime event at McNally Jackson where author Marie Rutkoski met with Sara Rees Brennan for a discussion about Kestrel and Arin’s next installment.  The Winner’s Crime book is gorgeous and there’s a map(!) inside.  I am so excited to have my copy personalized by Marie herself.  If you haven’t heard of The Winner’s Trilogy, you an read my review of the first book in the series, The Winner’s Curse.  I also attended The Orphan Queen launch party at Books of Wonder with Andrew and Melissa.  The authors at this event included Jodi Meadows, C.J. Redwine, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Joy N. Hensley.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring my copy of Cynthia’s latest book but I believe she’ll be back for the mega signing during the New York City Teen Author Festival.  I also got to meet Alexa and Rachel for the first time IRL and they were so sweet!  I can’t wait to see them both at future events.

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Cinderella Merchandise Roundup

I’ve been really looking forward to seeing Cinderella in theaters ever since the moment I laid eyes on that gorgeous glass slipper.  Cinderella is by no means my favorite Disney princess, but I do really enjoy her color palette and the fashion choices her fairy godmother makes for her.  The new live action adaptation of the classic story has inspired a wide variety of new merchandise so I decided to round up some of the best things currently available.

MAC + Cinderella – That lipstick though!  This collection is currently available online.

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Jimmy Choo + Cinderella – Currently on display in store at Saks Fifth Avenue and you can order a custom pair.

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LC Lauren Conrad + Cinderella – I love love love the glass slipper sweater and the pretty blue tulle skirt.  This collection is currently available online and in-store at Kohl’s.

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Morgan Taylor + Cinderella – The nail art they created for this collection is SO pretty!  Currently available online.

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Cinderella Limited Edition Fine China Set – This tea set is stunning! It comes packed in a pastel blue box and each of the pieces is laid in blue satin.  Currently available online.

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Hot Topic + Cinderella – My favorite piece from this collection is the glass slipper necklace.  Currently available online

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BookTube: DIY Nail Art Inspired By V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade Of Magic

In my latest BookTube video I’ve teamed up with Melissa Grey, author of the upcoming The Girl at Midnight and the guru behind Novel Nails for a bookish manicure inspired by V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.  If you like to read my full review of Victoria’s latest book, you can see that here.  And if you do your own ADSOM manicure, please tag us in your photos on Twitter / Instagram!

Here are some behind the scenes photos and stills of the manicure!

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5 Fandom Friday: Favorite Teas To Consume While Blogging

As soon as my college years ended and I quit drinking coffee, I formed a strong addiction to tea.  It is by far my favorite thing to drink and I consume countless cups on a daily basis.  I love branching out and trying new flavors but since I still need to invest in a steeper for my new apartment, I haven’t been drinking many loose leaf teas as of late.  My signature drink is a treinta unsweetened iced green tea from Starbucks but for the purpose of this post and due to the never ending winter I’m going to stick to hot teas.  Here are my favorites!

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1) Tazo Zen Tea – Zen tea is a delicious blend of green tea, lemongrass and a hint of spearmint.  It’s my current favorite tea and since it’s always stocked in my office, I definitely drink it more than all others!

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2) Tazo Chai Tea – Chai tea is such a delight!  I drink this when I’m really craving a high dose of caffeine.  It’s a mix of black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and spices.  The spicier, the better!

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3) Yogi Kombucha Green Tea – I recently saw what kombucha looks like in a Buzzfeed post and it is just so delicious that the horrifying photos do not even deter me from drinking this in the slightest.  Proceed with caution if curiosity gets the best of you!

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4) Tazo Earl Grey Tea – Mmm just thinking about the citrusy bergamot oil used in this black tea is giving me a craving.  Earl Grey is also made with lavender essence.  In fact, I think I’ll go grab some right now…

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5) Trader Joe’s Organic Cranberry Green Tea – This is my favorite tea of all time and SADLY it was discontinued a few years ago.  I was actually in tears when I heard it would no longer be available.  Every sip is like a tangible perfection in your mouth.  It’s on the sweeter side and I would guzzle this tea like it were going out of style (little did I know, it would).  Every once in a while I’ll find an errant tea bag in one of my old purses and it elates me beyond belief.  I’m so hesitant to try other Trader Joe’s teas after the discontinuation of this tea scarred me for life.

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March 6th – Favorite Snacks/Drinks To Consume While Blogging
March 13th – My Fictional BFF’s
March 20th – My Comfort Films
March 27th – One Fandom Item Styled Five Different Ways
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Lord Of The Rings Inspired Wish List

Next April, Andrew and I will be heading to Lincoln Center three nights in a row to watch Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films in their entirety with a LIVE orchestra.  I AM SO EXCITED.  When we bought our tickets on the day of their announcement last year, I felt like April would never arrive but now that it’s March, I can’t help getting excited all over again!  I’ve been browsing Etsy and Weta and The Noble Collection for Lord of the Rings inspired items that I want to wear to the event.  Here are some of my top picks!

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I have basically wanted this Elven Leaf brooch / necklace from Weta Workshop forever. I have no idea why I haven’t purchased it yet. But I definitely think it’s going to be an addition to my accessory collection in the very near future!

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LOTR Hair bow via Etsy

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Bag End Purse via Etsy

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Gandalf the Gray Inspired Cloak via Etsy

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The Hobbit Tea Necklace via Etsy

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Tree of Gondor tank via Etsy

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Tea & Book Chat: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of reading one of the most exciting and well crafted stories I’ve read in a long time.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a beautifully written and illustrated story that was well deserving of the Caldecott Medal it was awarded in 2008.  The story is about a little boy, Hugo Cabret, who lives in the train station in Paris, and tends to the stations clocks.  One thing I loved about Hugo Cabret is that the story centers on clocks and time and the setting, a train station, is a place where people rely on clocks and spend much time of their time waiting.  Before Hugo’s father died he worked at a museum and was restoring an automation that had been broken.  The automation was of a man sitting at a desk and once fixed and properly wound, the automation would write something.  Since losing his father and finding the remains of the automation, it had become Hugo’s sole ambition to fix the automation and see the message that he felt his father had left for him.  Shortly after taking him in, Hugo’s uncle, an employee at the train station, disappeared and Hugo began taking his paychecks and continuing on tending to the clocks so the Train Inspector would not find him and he would not end up in an orphanage.  He tried to pay for everything he needed with the coins he found since he didn’t know how to cash his uncles paychecks but he was forced to steal some necessities from time to time.  The only exception to Hugo’s rule were toys.

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 After the sleeping old man woke and caught Hugo trying to steal a blue mouse, he instructed Hugo to empty his pockets and confiscated his notebook, calling Hugo a thief.  Hugo was furious and devastated as the notebook was filled by his father with instructions on how to fix the last automation he was working on.  The old man looked haunted and upset and demanded to know where Hugo had stolen the notebook from but Hugo kept insisting that it was his.  The old man said he was going to burn it and Hugo ended up following him home which is where he meets a little girl who is slightly bigger than him named Isabelle.  Isabelle promises Hugo that she will not let Papa Georges burn the notebook and she instructs him to meet her at the bookstore the next day.

After another failed attempt of trying to get his notebook back from the old man, Papa Georges tells Hugo he will give him the opportunity to work at the toy booth and possibly earn his notebook back.  Hugo meets Isabelle in the bookstore as promised and she tells him that his notebook is safe.  Hugo will not tell her what is so important to him in the notebook.  Then Isabelle’s friend Etienne, a movie theater manager who is kind enough to sneak her in, arrives in the bookstore and promises to sneak Isabelle and Hugo in a movie next week.  Isabelle’s godparents will not let her see movies so she must lie in order to go and Hugo must make excuses to the old man as to why he can’t work at the toy shop. When they get to the theater they discover that Etienne has been fired for sneaking children into the movies but luckily Isabelle is able to use her hairpin to pick the lock to the back door and the children get to enjoy the show.  It reminds Hugo of the times he used to go to the movies with his father.  It also reminds him of the story his father told him about his favorite movie he had ever seen.  There was one scene he described in which a rocket went into the moons eye.

The next day Isabelle instructs Hugo to meet her at the bookstore again because she had found his notebook and stolen it back for him.  The old man finds Hugo with the notebook and accuses him of breaking into his house and stealing the notebook from him.  He is very upset and tells Hugo that he was going to give it back to him if he would’ve just waited.  Isabelle doesn’t say anything to defend Hugo even though she is the one who stole the notebook so Hugo begs to be able to say goodbye to her.  He runs over and hugs her while stealing her heart shaped key necklace in the process.  Hugo runs back to his room and checks his work on the automation against the instructions in his fathers notebook and finds that everything he has done is correct.  Isabelle bursts into his room and yells at him for stealing her necklace before Hugo has time to hide the automation.  He tells Isabelle that it was his fathers and the two watch as Hugo uses Isabelle’s key to wind the automation even though Hugo would much prefer to see the message by himself.

When the automation stops writing, Hugo and Isabelle are shocked by what they discover.  The automation draws a picture instead of a message.  The picture is of the scene of the movie that Hugo’s father had told him about but Hugo can’t figure out what it means.  But the to their surprise, the automation continues drawing until it finishes with a signature at the bottom of the page.  The signature being Georges Melies, Isabelle’s godfather, the toy shop owner.  The book is split into two parts and it is now that Brian Selznick provides the reader with the following note:

That brings us to the end of this story.

Now you know how the mysterious drawing

I mentioned at the beginning of this book came 

to be discovered.  It had been hidden inside the

clockworks of a well loved machine, waiting to

be released by a stolen key.  Here the curtain

closes and we fade to black.

 

But another story begins, because stories

lead to other stories, and this one leads

all the way to the moon.
 

It is now that we’ll leave it up to you to continue the story.  The second half of the book is where Isabelle and Hugo solve the mystery of the automation and we discover things beyond our wildest dreams.

What I Love

 Brian Selznick uses beautiful language to paint the scene in the readers mind.  Some of my favorite quotes from the book include:

I hope the snow covers everything so all the footsteps are silenced, and the whole city can be at peace.”

Hugo to Isabelle: “Sometimes I come up here at night, even when I’m not fixing clocks, just to look at the city.  I like to imagine that the world is one big machine.  You know, machines never have any extra parts.  They have the exact number and type of of parts they need.  So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason.  And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”

The drawings are another huge portion adding to the beauty of the book.  They give you insight into the story the way that Selznick intended it to be told.  One of our favorite drawings is this one:

Martin Scorsese obviously saw the genius in the storytelling skills of Brain Selznick and chose to adapt it into a film starring Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz.

I also love the history of cinema that is included in the book.  One of the first movies ever created in 1895 was called A Train Arrives in the Station and when the train came speeding towards the screen, the audience screamed and fainted because they thought they were in danger of being run over.

The chapters names!  My favorite being The Invention of Dreams

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I hope you continue the story on your own as I cannot praise The Invention of Hugo Cabret enough.  I read it in one day because I literally could not put it down and because sometimes stories are just that beautiful.  Hugo Cabret struck a chord with my inner child and I swear I felt the excitement as I ran with Hugo through the train station on his and Isabelle’s adventures.  Reading a story that focuses so heavily on time, dreams, and young people trying to find their place in the world really makes you stop to think and reevaluate where you are.  Happy Reading!

*This is an archived book chat that first appeared on www.wearpinkwednesdays.com*

A Darker Shade Of Magic Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY!

Hi there, and welcome to Red London!  I’m so excited to be participating in the blog tour for A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and in the London I would prefer to live in, given the choice.  I’ve already read and reviewed ADSOM which I’m positive is going to be my favorite book of 2015.  There’s thievery and magic and pirates and parallel London’s and it’s absolutely perfect in every way.  I’m a huge fangirl of Victoria aka VE Schwab so I was over the moon when Tor reached out to me about the book’s official blog tour which entails (wait for it) a question answered by Victoria herself!  But that’s not all, Tor is also giving away a hardcover copy of A Darker Shade of Magic along with a double-sided signed poster featuring the US and UK covers of ADSOM, and they’re willing to ship internationally!

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So without further adieu, here is the question I asked Victoria, along with her answer:

Q:  You’ve expressed on various forms of social media that you’re also a huge Marvel fan so I’m very curious, if you were given the chance to write a story arc for one superhero, who would it be and why?

A: Loki. Hands down. As a card-carrying Slytherin, this shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s not just his stylish black-and-green attire or the fact he’s been played by Tom Hiddleston, but Loki is one of my favorite things: complicated. He’s a true grey character, an anti-hero to some, an anti-villain to others, and I would love the chance to play with that.

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*Giveaway*

Win a copy of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab & a signed double-sided poster

Giveaway ships internationally

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Darker Shade final for Irene

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC

V.E. Schwab

A Tor Hardcover

978-0-7653-7645-9 / 0-7653-7645-8

$25.99 | 400p.

Ebook: 978-1-4668-5137-5 / 1-4668-5137-6 | $12.99

On Sale February 24, 2015

Print – IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Powell’s, Walmart.

E-Book – Kindle, Nook, iBooks, eBooks, Google Play, Kobo

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If you can’t get enough ADSOM, you can check out the book trailer or take this Buzzfeed quiz to see which London you belong in.

Also, make sure to check out the other stops on the A Darker Shade of Magic Blog Tour!

February 17 — Vampire Book Club — Red London

February 18 — The Eater of Books — White London

February 19 — Icey Books — Grey London

February 20 — Effortlessly Reading — Red London

February 21 – Cuddlebuggery – White London

February 22 — JessBella Reads — Grey London

February 23 — Istyria Book Blog — Red London

February 24 — Stories and Sweeties — White London

February 25 — Please Feed the Bookworm — Grey London

February 26 — The Nerd Herd Reads — Red London

February 27 — Novel Heartbeat — White London

February 28 — The Flyleaf Review — Grey London

March 1 — Addicted 2 Novels — Red London

March 2 — Books, Bones, and Buffy — White London

March 3 — My Friends are Fiction — Grey London

March 4 — Super Space Chick — Red London

March 5 — The Midnight Garden — White London

March 6 — Amaterasu Reads — Grey London

March 7 — Fiction Freak — Red London

March 8 — The Escapist — White London

March 9 — Addicted Readers — Grey London

March 10 — Bookish Antics — Red London

March 11 — The Social Potato — White London

March 12 — Young Adult Hollywood — White London

March 13 — The Modge Podge Bookshelf — Red London

March 14 — A Dream Within A Dream — White London

March 15 — Fandom Monthly Magazine — Grey London

March 16 — The Nocturnal Library — Red London

March 17 – Reading with ABC – White London

March 18 – Moonlight Gleam Reviews – Grey London

March 19 – Book Munchies – Red London

March 20 – Poisoned Rationality – White London

March 21 – Blood Bookaholic – Grey London

March 22 – Live to Read – Red London

March 23 — There Were Books Involved — White London

March 24 — My Bookish Ways — Only time will tell…

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Melissa + Karl Lagerfeld Collaboration

I am just smitten with the new styles in Melissa’s collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld for Summer 2015 shoes.  I adore the Violatta flat gladiator type sandals with perfectly placed pearls.  They’re so chic!  They could definitely be dressed up or worn casual to add a polished touch to a casual summer ensemble.  I also love the Ultragirl flats in white which have a cat head with big eyes adorning the toes.  They’re so so cute!  The Pearl heels are lovely as well but I wouldn’t opt to buy them since I can’t see myself being able to walk comfortably in them for extended periods of time or on the uneven concrete streets of NYC.  All in all, it’s a great collection!  I remember how much I loved their collaboration last year which resulted in glittery pink heels with ice cream cones on the backs (in fact, there are still a few pairs on sale on their website!).

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Tea & Book Chat: The Dream Thieves By Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Raven Boys which is the first book in the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Dream Thieves is an amazing follow up to The Raven Boys.  This book focuses heavily on Ronan who is by far one of the most interesting characters in the series.  We’re introduced to his ability to pull objects out of dreams and bring them into the real world which is something that he hasn’t shared before.  We also learn a lot more about Ronan’s family history and about his father and the relationship between him and his two brothers. Ronan is the most mysterious of the Raven Boys so it was such a pleasure to find out more about him and learn about where his tough exterior formed from.  He is also befriended by a terribly destructive character, Joseph Kavinsky.  The dynamic between the pair is tense and wildly unexpected.

I really enjoyed the relationships that began to develop in this installment.  We’re introduced to the Gray Man who is sent to Cabeswater to hunt an object called the Greywaren.  He ends up being a potential love interest for Blue’s mother Maura and their dynamic is nothing short of the strangeness you would imagine between a psychic and a hitman.  Admittedly, the Gray Man’s storyline was a slow start for me.  Adam’s character is also evolving into an impatient and unpleasant person which causes Blue to have some serious reservations about their relationship.  Her and Gansey continue to get closer which I am all for!

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The Dream Thieves is a much quicker paced read than the first book in the series.  There were many more action scenes and having the background of the first book, Maggie Stiefvater was able to explore more of the magic in Cabeswater.  In The Dream Thieves, nightmares come alive and the dream sequences are hauntingly beautiful and gorgeously frightful.  There is SO MUCH symbolism which will not be entirely evident until the end of the book.  The plot continues to be complex and allows the reader to further develop so many feelings for all of the main characters.  I still think about the final action sequence in the book and my mind is just blown.  I cannot wait to read the third book as a result!

Final ThoughtThe Dream Thieves has so much character development and a beautifully complex plot.  Maggie Stiefvater’s beautifully crafted story interweaves everyone’s fates in such a haunting and harmonious way.  Similar to The Raven Boys, the beginning of the novel is a slower read but there is so much payoff at the end.  If you liked The Raven Boys even a little bit, you absolutely must continue the series because The Dream Thieves will blow your mind.

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Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after… (via Goodreads)

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