Tag Tuesday: Twenty One Pilots Book Tag

Once again, I was not tagged to do this tag. However, TOP is one of my all-time favorite bands, and it looked like a lot of fun so, I’m gonna do it. This tag was created by MoMo @ The Booktube Girl. Let’s go!

326203321.) Stressed Out – What is a popular book that you have wanted to read for a long time that everyone has been talking about?

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by: Taylor Jenkins Reid. I see this book everywhere. And everyone loves it. Like, seriously, people have Twitter names, and bios, dedicated to this book. I don’t really know too much about it, except that it’s diverse, and has great rep, and that’s good enough for me!

 

 

355044312.) Car Radio – Name a book that contained issues you felt you connected to on a personal level.

Definitely Turtles All the Way Down by: John Green. As someone with OCD and anxiety, this book was just, so freaking validating. So much of what Aza goes through in this book, I experience, in some way, on a daily basis. It was such a real, and raw, portrayal of what it’s like to live in our shoes, and I really commend John Green for being brave enough to put his personal experience out there.

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3.) Ride – Name a book that you wanted to never end.

The Pearl Thief by: Elizabeth Wein. Julia Beaufort-Stuart is my favorite character of all-time, from anything ever. So, of course, I didn’t want a book that is all about her, and her life, and her family, to ever end. If you want to read more about my undying love for Julie, you can check out my wayyyy to long post about my Code Name Verity collection here.

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4.) Holding on to You – What is a book/series that you have loved since your childhood?

Definitely The Thief Lord by: Cornelia Funke. This was the first book I ever bought for myself with my own money. I picked it up at my school’s Scholastic Book Fair, and devoured it in a single day. I was my favorite book until high school. It’s a really fun and sweet story, and I recommend it to everyone, no matter the age.

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5.) Tear in my Heart – Name a book that made you feel all the emotions.

Without a doubt Dreams of Gods and Monsters by: Laini Taylor. This remains my favorite conclusion to a series ever. It was absolutely flawless. There was nothing about it I would’ve changed, or didn’t love. And I felt every single, possible human emotion while reading it. I was laughing, smiling, sobbing, screaming, swooning, at of it. Laini Taylor is a freakin’ word witch, and she never ceases to amaze the hell out of me with her writing. So good.

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6.) Fairly Local – What is your personal favorite underground book/series? 

I’m taking “underground” to mean lesser known, or under-hyped. That being said, it’d probably be Maggot Moon by: Sally Gardner. I know, absolutely no one else, that has read this book, and it’s a travesty. If you want to see me ramble about this book some more, check out my Top 5 Wednesday post about my favorite hidden gem books here.

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7.) Ode to Sleep – Name a book that was full of twists and turns and kept you on the edge of your seat.

Illuminae by: Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. This book didn’t just intrigue me with it’s action packed and super exciting story, but the format kept me engaged too. I’d never read a book told in mixed media before, and it was so much fun to see how the next piece of information was going to be delivered to us. I read this book in one sitting, and if you haven’t picked it up yet, you need to!

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8.) Goner – What is a book character that you fell in love with from the beginning?

Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle by: Maggie Stiefvater. From the minute he appeared on the page with his “I thought you were dead in a ditch” self, I was smitten. He’s such a little trash baby. My little trash baby. I love him so.

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9.) Migraine – What is one book that gave you a headache to read?

I’m gonna go with a school book this time, and it’s The Sound and the Fury by: William Faulkner. Not only is this book a classic, which tend to be challenging reads as is, but this novel was told in fragmented, and non-linear style, and from multiple, unreliable POVs, which made this story almost impossible to follow. It is definitely the most challenging book I’ve ever read.

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10.) We Don’t Believe What’s On TV – What is a book that you love that most people seem to hate?

Queen of Shadows by: Sarah J. Maas. For some reason, I can’t for the life of me understand why, this is everyone’s least favorite Throne of Glass book. But this is my favorite one, by far. Everyone trashes this book because of how “out of character” everyone is, and they all hate Manon, and I just, I don’t get this. This was the most true to character they’ve ever been, and Manon is my favorite character in the series! If you want to see me rant about this book for wayyyy too long, you can watch the review I did for it on my Booktube channel here.

And that’s that! So, what about y’all? How would you answer any of these questions? Are you a TOP fan? What’s your favorite song? Talk to me about it in the comments!

Sunday Fun-day: Elizabeth Wein Collection

When I decided to start talking about my collections here, that I wanted to start with one that, is indeed small, but holds such a huge place in my heart. So with that, lets dive into my Code Name Verity collection.

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As I mentioned in my Librarian of Auschwitz review, I have been passionate about educating myself about World War II and the Holocaust ever since I was a child. Because of this, I often find myself searching the YA Holocaust & WWII Novels Listopia on Goodreads. This is where I first stumbled upon Code Name Verity by: Elizabeth Wein, in 2012. I placed this book, and many others, on my “to be read” list, and went about my life for two years. In 2014, when I was researching what books had won the Printz award for the year, as I do every year, I saw a familiar face. Code Name Verity had won the Printz Honor. This solidified my desire to read it, and within the week, it was in my hands.

I’ll admit: I was super nervous going into this book. In my research of the reviews of the book, something I always do before reading, I found that one of the main issues people had with the novel, was the extensive use of pilot’s jargon and terminology. As someone who has zero experience or knowledge about planes or flying, this was concerning. Was I going to be able to understand this book? Would all the technical knowledge that I couldn’t decipher take me out of the story? I was wary.

I was a fool.

Yes this book did contain a lot of pilot specific information, Elizabeth Wein is an avid flyer and makes her love of it quite known in this book, but she made the information a soft foreground for the plot and characters to stand on, rather than a direct feature. If that makes sense? Ultimately, the pilot-y stuff doesn’t detract from the novel at all. In fact, by the end of it, you’ll find yourself actually recognizing terms and such. Which is always cool.

How do I begin to discuss this story, or these characters, and what they mean to me? I’ll do my best, but I can’t promise any of it will hold water.

This story will destroy you. It will. Accept it now. There will be moments where you think everything isn’t so terrible, and heartbreaking, and cruel. Moments where you think you will escape this novel unscathed. This is a trap. The way that this narrative is told, is so intricate, and brilliant. You will find yourself laughing, and smiling along with these beautiful girls on one page, and then your heart will be collapsing as the brutal reality of the situation hits you on the next page. Even in the bright moments, the darkness is lurking in the back of your mind. It’s always there. And isn’t that just so appropriate for a novel set in this time period?

You’re going to love these characters. Again, just accept it. Maddie is such a bright, and delightfully strong, and fierce, and kind, and just, wonderful girl. You’ll find yourself cheering her on, no matter what she plans on doing, simply because you want to see her succeed. Watching her grow throughout this novel is such a joy. Her hard work and determination is so inspiring. She’s the precious cinnamon roll you want to give the entire world to.

Julie. How can I possibly even begin to explain my love for Julie? Well, let’s start with this: I’m naming my daughter after her. Hand to God, I swear it. She is, without a doubt, my favorite character in anything, ever. She’s just such a dynamic character. She’s beautiful, funny, overconfident, sassy, vain, kind, witty, determined, selfish, and so f*cking brave and strong. She’s everything. She absolutely breaks my heart throughout this whole novel with everything that she does, and is. My love for her knows absolutely no bounds. She will make you fall in love with her, whether you want to or not, and she will wreck your soul. It’s awful. It’s the best.

Needless to say, Code Name Verity is this genre, and this topic, at its very best. It is the very first WWII/Holocaust recommendation I give, which is really saying something considering The Book Thief is my second favorite novel of all time. This book is hard, emotionally, but that’s what makes it so good, and so important. It’s going to stick with you. You’re not going to easily forget Maddie and Julie, or their story. They’re going to leave a mark on your heart. Mine hurts as I’m writing this. My eyes are itching to release tears. It’s been 4 years since I read this. That says something. 

Rose Under Fire isn’t a sequel really, more of a companion novel, though it does have some characters from Verity, and does take place after. While Verity dealt more with the broader WWII topics (bombings, air raids, espionage, etc.), Rose Under Fire is a purely Holocaust novel.

Now, when you’ve been reading about this topic for as long as I have, as terrible as it sounds, they can all start to blend together. Again, I know that’s a terrible thing to imagine, but it’s unfortunately true. So many of the stories coming out of these camps are so similar. After all, the intent of the Nazis was to make this brutality as uniform and “efficient” as possible. As hard as you try to keep each individual, horrific experience separate from the rest, as a means to respect the victims and survivors, sometimes they just get mixed up. So then the challenge becomes: what makes this different? What new thing can I learn or take away from this narrative that sets it apart from the countless other stories of absolute cruelty and devastation? I ask myself this question every time I close a Holocaust novel. The answer after I closed Rose? Ravensbrück.

While this novel may be fictional, many of the moving parts of it are horrifyingly real. Ravensbrück is real. The Rabbits, 74 Polish women that were forced to undergo cruel and brutal medical experiments at the hands of Nazi doctors, are real. The 130,000 women who passed through those gates to be beaten, starved, worked to death, poisoned, executed and gassed, are real. Their stories are real. But unfortunately, for most of history, this knowledge, and these stories, have been forgotten. The destruction of the camp by the Nazis, and of the evidence of the evil that transpired there, was so efficient, that these voices have been rendered almost completely silent, and so easily overlooked. Even I, with all my fascination and interest in studying WWII and the Holocaust, almost overlooked them as well. I’d never heard anything about Ravensbrück or the Rabbits. Until Elizabeth Wein and Rose Under Fire. That, is what I’ve taken away from this novel.

I read this book, and it stuck with me. I read every word, on every page, and was captivated. I clung to every single one of those women’s stories and made a promise to remember them all. I rifled through all of Elizabeth’s author’s notes, and references, and resources that lay in the back of the book. I took note of all the documentaries, memoirs, and novels that she recommended for further study on the subject. I even picked up a non-fiction book (a rarity for me) about the camp, and the women who inhabited it:  Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by: Sarah Helm. I’m still making my way through the book, as it’s quite mammoth, but I’m determined to finish it. I want to be one of the helping hands in raising these voices up. I want these stories to be heard, and be remembered. And all this, started with me picking up a Rose Under Fire. This is what makes this book so powerful, and why I’m as passionate about it as I am.

And lastly, we have The Pearl Thief. Again, this is not a sequel. It’s actually a prequel which, after reading Code Name Verity, is horribly cruel. Even though nothing terribly sad happens in this novel, I was a hysterical wreck all through it. My heart was breaking with every single word. If you read the series, you will understand. And I do recommend reading them in publication order, for that very reason. The pain is good. Don’t shy away from it.

The Pearl Thief follows a slice of Julie’s life before the start of WWII. We get to see her beautiful family home in Scotland, her family, and just, herself. Regular, pre-war-hardened Julie. We see her struggle with her society’s and family’s expectations of her, her own expectations of herself, her doubts about her future, her doubts about her sexuality, her mistakes, her triumphs, everything. Everything that made us fall in love with her in Verity, just magnified. And there’s a wonderful mystery woven into it, as well as a self-discovery story, and even a little bit of a love story. It’s so many things, and all of them are fantastic.

It’s short, and sweet, and it will leave you sobbing. You’ll curse the day you ever heard Elizabeth Wein’s name, and you’ll love every minute of it.

This series is so precious to me. It has affected and changed me so much, and I’ll forever be grateful for it.

With all that being said, I haven’t really discussed the actual collection. So I’m gonna do that now. I currently only own the US versions, which I hope to remedy soon. I have each copy in hardcover, and own the ARC. I have the paperbacks for Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, but am still waiting for The Pearl Thief to be released in paperback. Like I said wayyyyy up there at the beginning, this collection is still small, and has a lot of growing to do. But it’s still one that is so, so, so important to me, and I’m glad I got to share it with y’all.

 

Review Friday – The Librarian of Auschwitz

31145052The Librarian of Auschwitz by: Antonio Iturbe

Released: October 10th 2017

Rating: * * * *

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Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

The history of World War II, and the Holocaust, is something that I’ve been passionate about for most of my life. I’ve dedicated countless hours to educating myself about the subjects, by reading books, watching documentaries, scouring the internet, anyway possible. I was even planning on getting a degree in history, and teaching the topic (something I might still pursue). Needless to say, when a new YA, historical fiction book that takes place during the time period comes out, I am on top of it. And I’m quite proud to admit that: no YA Holocaust novel has ever disappointed me. And that includes this one.

This story follows Dita Adler, a young Czech girl imprisoned at Auschwitz, in the special “family camp,” Block 31. Here, families are kept mostly intact, and there’s even a school for the children. It’s in this special place that the most priceless, and dangerous, treasure is hidden: books. We follow Dita, the appointed librarian, as she struggles to keep the books hidden and safe, avoid the attention of the insidious Dr. Mengele, and most importantly, stay alive.

This novel was a bit of a toughie to get into, almost to the point that I was afraid I wasn’t going to enjoy it. You see, the beginning of the story deals a lot with what life in this “family camp” is like, and it’s very different from how life for prisoners is portrayed in most other Holocaust novels. The prisoners aren’t kept together with their families on purpose, children don’t attend school. This isn’t how we’ve been lead to believe Jews were treated in concentration camps. So it’s a little disorientating. It almost makes it seem like the prisoners have nothing to fear. Which is exactly the point. As we read, we learn that this was the intent of the Nazis when it came to these “family camps.” They were created to fool the Allies into thinking that the Jews were being well cared for, and that the rumors of genocide were simply that: rumors. Iturbe creates this same effect in the first half of the novel, and it really pays off in the end. I’m quite a fan of it now, in retrospect.

I also really appreciated how Iturbe was able to seamlessly integrate Dita’s POV, all of the other POVs, and the factual information, together. I never found myself wanting to skip over any of the side characters chapters, and I never felt taken out of the narrative when Iturbe inserted a historical fact. It all tied so beautifully together, and it really gave the story a wide spectrum of perspectives, that really made it that much more of a heartbreaking read. He also wasn’t afraid to go from light and happy, to dark and dismal in a short space. It really gave the sense of “you never know when the shoe is gonna drop,” which must have been how these people felt every minute of every day.

The thing I loved most about this story was actually the Postscript. After the actual novel ends, Iturbe addresses the reader directly, and discusses how this novel came to be. He gives us insight as to how he met the real Dita, what she is like, and how she, and her story, have touched Iturbe. He also informs us that, along with wanting to tell this incredible woman’s story, he wanted to vindicate one of the characters, Fredy Hirsch, who’s name has been tarnished for most of history. This all just gave the novel and even greater sense of purpose. And as someone who, as mentioned earlier, is so passionate about learning from these people, and making their voices heard, it really just struck a chord with me.

This novel was beautifully, and cleverly done. The characters were compelling, and the story was utterly heartbreaking. This is going to be one of my new, go-to recommendations for this topic.

Top 5 Wednesday Rewind: Graphic Novels

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Gingereadslainey with different bookish topics for each week.

If you’re interested in joining in, see the Goodreads group!

“What are some of your favorite graphic novels or comic book trades?”

174127491.) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by: Isabel Greenberg

I didn’t know what to expect when I went into this mammoth tome, but I was absolutely blown away by the end of it. Told in an incredible ancient folklore/myth-style, this is a story about stories. We follow the journey of a Storyteller as he makes his way through Early Earth, and the ride is simply fantastic. The art style is simplistic, and sweet, and stunning all at the same time. This has quickly become one of my favorite graphic novels, and it’s always one of the very firsts that I recommend.

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2.) Nimona by: Noelle Stevenson

Now this, is my all time favorite stand-alone graphic novel. What started out as a small webcomic, has now claimed the hearts of millions, and for VERY good reason. It’s the story of the infamous villain, Lord Ballister Blackheart, and the shape-shifter girl who has decided to become his henchwoman, whether he wants her to or not. I’ve actually done a full and in-depth review on this graphic novel on my Booktube channel. You can watch it here!

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3.) Chew by: John Layman and Rob Guillory

And this, is my all time favorite graphic novel series. This is the journey of Tony Chu, a man blessed (or cursed?) with the gift to psychically see the entire life of anything he eats, and how he uses this gift as an agent for the FDA, in a world that has outlawed chicken. This wasn’t at all what I was expecting when I picked it up…but in the best way. I was expecting it to be gritty, and gory, and pretty ridiculous. And it was all those things. But it’s also really funny and completely absurd, but again, in the best possible way. The story gets more and more complicated and intricate, and bonkers, as it goes, and you just really never know what nonsense is going to happen next. The characters are hilarious and so much fun. It still kills me that this series is complete, and I’ll never get a new Tony Chu adventure. I miss it terribly.

179296374.) East of West by: Jonathan Hickman

Oh boy, how does one describe East of West? Well, it’s a sci-fi western, that takes place on an alternate timeline, and revolves around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the people who are helping them destroy the world. It’s a little difficult to understand, but it is absolutely fantastic. The world is very rich and complex, as are the characters. The story is so rich and interesting. There’s a lot of political intrigue and a whole lot of betrayal. And while you wouldn’t think the sci-fi and Western mixture would work, it really freakin’ does. Plus, the artwork is absolutely to die for. I definitely believe that the more and more you delve into this story, the more and more you will understand, and more and more you will fall in love with it.

32172215.) Locke & Key by: Joe Hill

Who here is surprised that Stephan King’s son was able to create a brilliant, supernatural, horror graphic novel series? Anyone? Yea, didn’t think so. This story revolves around the Locke family, and all the misery and misfortune that befalls them after they move to this creepy mansion in Lovecraft, MA, and come into the possession of some very special keys. While this story is very dark, it’s also incredibly gripping, and intriguing. The suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The characters are oh so beautifully complex, and flawed, and you love them because (or maybe in spite) of it. The story was such a fascinating ride, and really is one of the absolute best series out there.

Tag Tuesday: Netflix Book Tag

Yet again, I wasn’t tagged to do this tag, but I love Netflix, and I love books sooooo… I’m gonna do it! This tag was created by Whitney @ A Darker Shade of Whitney. Here we go!

1. Recently Watched: The last book you finished reading.

The last book I finished reading was The Thief by: J.R. Ward. I did a review for it which you can find here!
2. Top Picks: A book/books that have been recommended to you based on book you have previously read.

People have recommended that I read the Timekeeper series by: Tara Sim, due to my love of LGBTQIA+ books and historical fiction (I’ve read these, and I LOVE THEM!). And they’ve also recommended that I read Written in Red by: Anne Bishop due to how much I love the Dark Hunters series by: Sherrilyn Kenyon.
s-l4003. Recently Added: The last book you bought.

The last book I bought was the Black, German Edition of I Am the Messenger by: Markus Zusak. The collecting never ends!!!
4. Popular on Netflix: Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading)

Two books that I’m pretty sure that everyone has read, including me, is The Hate U Give by: Angie Thomas, and A Court of Mist and Fury by: Sarah J. Maas. And for good reason, both of these books are fantastic. And two books that it seems like everyone has read, that I have zero interest in reading, is The Selection by: Kiera Cass, and The Archived by: Victoria Schwab. Though, if we’re being honest, I did try to read The Archived, I just couldn’t get into it, and had to DNF it.
175715645. Comedies: A funny book

By far, the funniest book I’ve ever read, is Hyperbole and A Half by: Allie Brosh. This book, literally, had me crying I was laughing so freakin’ hard. Everyone needs to read it.
6. Dramas: A character who is a drama queen/king.

Jace freakin’ Wayland from The Mortal Instruments series by: Cassandra Clare. I swear, I’ve never read about a more dramatic, and moody, and angsty little buttmunch in my life! Like, UGH! Just calm the heck down, dude.
347332507. Animated: A book with cartoons on the cover

Night of Cake and Puppets by: Laini Taylor. All the illustrations for this book, including the gorgeous ones on the cover, were done by Laini’s amazing husband, Jim Di Bartolo. Like, seriously, Jim is an art GENIUS. Everything he draws is stunning.
8. Watch it again: A book/book series that you want to re-read

I really want to reread all of the books in the Code Name Verity series by: Elizabeth Wein. These are some of my all time favorite books, and I really miss them! Hopefully I’ll get around to them again soon.
1772309. Documentaries: A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone

A non-fiction book that I really loved, and that was really important to me, was Without You by: Anthony Rapp. Anthony Rapp was the original Mark in the broadway musical RENT, which is my second favorite musical of all time (behind Hamilton, of course). RENT was a big part of my life in high school, and Mark was always my favorite character, so I really loved reading this book written by the actor that brought him to life. This book also talks a lot about grief, and self-discovery, which are two things I was really struggling with in high school, so this book gave me a lot of comfort.
10. Action and Adventure: An action packed book

Definitely Godsgrave by: Jay Kristoff. It seemed like, every couple of pages or so, the whole world was falling into chaos and people were fighting for their lives! It was awesome.
2544634311. New Releases: A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

Since I don’t want to sound like a broken record, and keep bringing up the same Zusak book over, and over, and over, I’m going to go with Muse of Nightmares by: Laini Taylor. Laini is an absolute word witch, and I fell head over heels in LOVE with Strange the Dreamer, so I absolutely CANNOT WAIT for the sequel/conclusion.
12. Max: Tag some people

I tag anyone that 1.) has a blog, and 2.) has binge-watched something for more than 3 hours on Netflix. So if you fit that bill: Do the thing!

And that’s that! Now, what about y’all? How you you answer any of these questions? And what’s the last thing you binged on Netflix? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Sunday Fun-day: Book Defacing – The Raven King

Book defacing is a trend that has taken the book community by storm in the past year or so. People who once believed in the practice of keeping books in pristine and perfect condition, are now writing and highlighting all over the pages. The thought still makes some book-lovers skin crawl. But, what happens when you stray even farther? When simply annotating the book just isn’t enough? Well, something like this happens:

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This, my lovelies, was once the dust jacket of The Raven King by: Maggie Stiefvater, and it still is, it’s just gotten a bit of a makeover. You see, I’ve been annotating the insides of my books (writing commentary, underlining, highlighting, etc.), for a long time, long before the trend started, and I liked the way that, by doing it, the book became more personal, more mine. But it wasn’t enough. I began to think of other ways I could put my personal touch on my favorite books, and found myself staring at the dust jacket, imagining what cover I could create. And then I created it.

As a Stiefvater collector, I have many spare copies of The Raven Cycle, but The Raven King especially. It’s also probably my favorite book in the series, so it just made sense that it would be the one I defaced. My goal was to create a cover completely dedicated to the character that the book embodies the most, which is Gansey. But I didn’t want to go the typical route. I didn’t want my cover to have skulls with crowns, or ravens on it. I, instead, wanted to focus on the non-magical aspects of Gansey. The things that I love about him the most. With all that in mind, I got started.

29365721_10211581001736963_6795972987783741440_nMy process began with a rough sketch of what I had decided on drawing, and about where on the cover I planned on placing it all. After that, I took some parchment-y like tissue paper, and glued it to the reverse side of the dust jacket (I used one of those glue tape things to do this, considering the dust jacket is very sheen and slick, and I didn’t think regular glue would hold). Then, it was time to draw. I decided to go with Ganseys signature boat shoe, and Sperry in particular, and made it his signature color:

Aquamarine is a wonderful color, and I won’t be made to feel bad for wearing it.”

I then decided to include a sprig of mint leaves, to represent Ganseys adorable habit of carrying around mint leaves and chewing on them. Then, finally, I included Ganseys fatal flaw: bees. Real ones, not robot ones. For the back cover, I did my best to interpret Ganseys cardboard and cereal-box version of Henrietta, and placed his glasses (his most adorable physical feature) in the center of it all. I then chose a quote that really spoke to who Gansey was as a regular, not touched by magic, person:

“That’s Gansey for you. Only learns enough to be superficially competent.”

The final step, was one that gave me pause for a long time: what was I going to do with the spine? Tons of ideas came to me (coloring it, painting it, leaving it alone so I wouldn’t mess the whole thing up and have to start all over, etc.), but none of them felt right. Then an idea, a risky one, came to mind: fabric. I’ve always loved cloth bound books, and while this wouldn’t exactly be that, I thought I could at least incorporate a little bit of the idea into it. So, with much doubt, I chose some accentuating ribbons, prayed real hard, and glued them to the spine. It worked.

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And with that, I was finally finished. The whole process took me about two weeks to complete, but I think it was totally worth it. No one in the world has a copy of The Raven King just like this. This one is completely, and uniquely, my own. And I love it.

So, what about y’all? Do you deface books? Would you ever? Let me hear about it in the comments!

Review Friday: Beloved

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Beloved by: Toni Morrison

Released: September 2nd, 1987

Pages: 324

Rating: * * * * *

 

 

 

 

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.

This is one of those books that is very difficult to pin down how you feel about it. I mean, how does one say that they loved a book that portrays the horrors of slavery? It’s quite a dilemma. But, I did love this book, and I wish it hadn’t taken me until college to read it.

The fact of the matter is: there are a million things to love about this novel. Sethe is a strong, and extremely complex character that, even in her most questionable moments, you find yourself rallying behind. The writing is really beautiful, with an almost lyrical or poetic tone. And the messages and themes of this book are not easy ones to ponder. They will leave you thinking long after you’ve put the book down, and stay with you. And yes, the depiction of slavery is very real, and brutal, and hard to read about: but it’s so important. Books like this unflinchingly stand in front of their readers and say, “This is what happened. It was appalling, devastating, and tragic. Look at it, and remember it. It must never happen again.” Morrison has long been credited of “giving a voice to the voiceless,” with this novel, and that alone, makes this novel worthy of praise.

This was one of the required readings for my Magical Realism class, and what I’ve learned from this class is that: Magical Realism was born out of people trying to tell stories of the horrible things that exist in their world, that no one could believe were real. So they incorporated bits of magic into the stories to make them more bearable to hear, not only for the audience, but for the author as well. In this, Beloved definitely fits the bill. The idea of what the characters of this novel were forced to endure are so unimaginable, that it doesn’t seem so hard to believe that Sethe’s home is haunted. In fact, most readers would probably prefer to believe that the haunting is more real than the atrocities that befell Sethe and Paul D. But their experiences were very real, and experienced by millions, most of whom never got the chance to tell their stories, and whose names we’ll never know. And that’s why this book is so powerful, and important. I’m so very grateful that I read it.