Linger by Maggie Stiefvater GIVEAWAY!

I recently read, loved, and reviewed Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (review here) because I was able to win an ARC from Angie! And now, to pass on the good vibes, I’m giving my ARC away to one lucky random winner! Linger doesn’t come out until July!

Here’s how it’s going to work:

1. Comment on this entry and tell me what you think about the recent urban/paranormal werewolf/vampire trend in YA novels (+1 point)

2. Link to this giveaway on your blog/twitter, and provide the location of the link in your comment to this entry, or you can email me the link. (+1 point)

You will be entered into a random drawing however many times as many points you have, and then I will pick a winner on June 11th! Remember to leave me a way to contact you (i.e. email)!

Sorry, I can only send to US addresses–I’m a poor college student and can’t afford international mail :(

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

How I got this book: ARC won from Angie. Linger comes out July 20, 2010!
Sequel to: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (this review contains slight spoilers for Shiver).

I loved Shiver, the first novel in the series, and I was both surprised and excited that it had a sequel. Surprised because Shiver ended so perfectly that I wasn’t sure what there was left to say except Happily Ever After over and over again. I was excited because I wanted to know just what exactly Stiefvater could think of next for our two young protagonists, and I knew she would write it beautifully, whatever it was.

As the days get warmer and longer, it seems as if Grace and Sam have everything they could have ever wanted. Sam has been “cured” of his werewolf-ness, and the idea that he has the rest of his life as a human stretched out in front of him is something he wakes up to in wonder every day. Our two young lovers have dodged what seemed like the inescapable bullet, but they are soon confronted with other growing problems.

First, the new wolves. Beck, Sam’s adoptive father (and also werewolf) returned at the end of the first novel with several newly “turned” werewolves. One of these new wolves is Cole, former lead singer of the band NARKOTIKA. His face has been splashed across millions of tabloids and magazines, and while music is his life, becoming famous has nearly killed him. Or, more accurately, made him want to kill himself. You name it, Cole’s done it. Booze, drugs, hundreds of faceless groupies… the life of a rockstar, the life of endless entertainment and meaningless existence. Becoming a wolf, fated to stay an animal forever in a few short years, is the next best thing to suicide.

Secondly, Grace’s absentee parents have fully re-entered her life upon realizing that Sam is much more than just some high school fling. Along with the fact that her parents are interfering with her hard-won love life, Grace is starting to feel sick… a sickness she and Sam thought had been cured, a sickness that is inhumane, wild, and uncontrollable.

I was just as drawn into Linger as I was Shiver. I think it’s safe to say that Stiefvater avoided the “sequel slump” and was able to keep the story of Grace and Sam together and still romantic. The introduction of Cole as a new character and Isabel as a stronger presence also made for a great story, and while at first I was skeptical of Cole being a cliche drugged-up rockstar with problems and a magnetism that draws every single teenage girl to his self-destructiveness, Stiefvater made it work and Cole didn’t feel awkward or contrived at all. I especially enjoyed his interactions with the always entertainingly-prickly Isabel, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go in future books.

Sam and Grace were just as well written as in the first novel, and made me very nicely nostalgic for that unique, once-in-a-lifetime teenage-first-love-passionate-bliss. Ahh. To contrast this, and to provide a conflict, Grace’s parents were cold and stupid and a little unbelievable in their newfound stiffness towards Sam. The parents were a little cardboard-cut-out in their dumbness and Total Evil Parent crusade against their daughter’s boyfriend, and while it made for great emotion, it felt a little contrived to me.

But what makes me really enjoy these books is Steifvater’s descriptions of the forest and landscape around Mercy Falls (Grace’s hometown) and the world that Grace and Sam live in, whether it’s a rundown little diner that you can almost feel the grease on your fingers, or a wild, cold forest. The way the author describes the deadening, bone-shattering cold of the Midwest is so real and all these little details really suck the reader in.

Great sequel. I really advise readers to start from the first book, otherwise Linger will be all too confusing! There’s still another 2 months or so till Linger comes out, so you have time to read Shiver and catch up before then. 🙂

Second Opinions: Angieville’s Review
Author Website: Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Rating: 8 out of 10

Review: I have heard a lot of good things about Stiefvater’s writing but avoided it for awhile because she writes about two of the most overdone things in fiction today: fairies/faeries, and werewolves. Nothing especially against these two subjects–there’s some very good stuff out there (Holly Black, Emma Bull, Annette Curtis Klaus) but there’s also a lot of very badly written stuff brought on by the Twilight and mass urban/paranormal fantasy craze, which I dislike generally.

I finally picked up Shiver because I read some really great reviews, and I’ll admit, the cover design is pretty and intriguing. Good decision!

It’s hard to write a summary for this one without sounding super cliche and Twilight-esque. And I’ll say the story itself could have progressed in that vein, if not for Steifvater’s great writing. She is very poetic and sparse, does a nice job of writing first-person from our protagonist Grace’s point of view. Anyway I should say a little more about the plot before anything else:

Attacked by wolves as a child, Grace has nevertheless always felt an affinity for one particular wolf that frequents the woods behind her backyard–this one has yellow eyes and is there in the trees every winter. He is also the one who saved her from getting ripped to shreds by the rest of the wolf pack. This wolf is Sam; he was completely human once upon a time, but every winter when the temperature drops, he is helpless against the change that comes upon him and other members of his pack. During the summer he can return to his human form, but the number of “changes” one can go through is limited–soon enough, everyone becomes a wolf forever, never to return to their human body again.

Sam has never dared talk to Grace as a human boy before, but after being shot by a hunter and ending up on her back porch, the two of them finally meet and eventually fall in love.

Everything is romantic and blissful and young-love for awhile, but inescapable problems surface along with Sam’s ever-present thought that this will be his last “change”–after he becomes a wolf again, he knows he will never change back into a human.

As you can expect, Shiver is definitely a romance, but it’s also anxious and nerve-wracking, because you know their time is limited, and there are all these other problems like killer wolves on the rampage and people finding out about the werewolves and etc. etc. Steifvater creates a great atmosphere for the story and everything is illuminated very vividly.

Sequel! Sequel is out July of 2010. Too long. I will have to check out Stiefvater’s other series until then.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

COVER graceling by kristin cashoreRating: 8 out of 10
Summary: In a world where people born with an extreme skill–called a Grace–are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace–or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away… a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Thoughts: I read a lot of great things about this one before putting it on hold at my local library. I finally got it this week and it was just as good as everyone said it was!

Katsa, our heroine, was realistic and easy to relate to–I liked her immensely and I was quite sympathetic to her troubles and endeavors, and saw a bit of myself in her, which always helps. The premise and the world Cashore created was fabulous. Sort of like your quintessential pre-Industrial Revolution world where occasionally, some people are born with unusual talents, or Graces, that distinguish them from the rest of the population. These Graces can be as simple as a better-than-normal swimming ability, an unusual talent for baking delicious pastries, or in Katsa’s case, a talent for killing people. Katsa’s Grace contributes a lot to her character and her decision-making, and made for an interesting story.

I always like a good, well-formed plot with unexpected twists. Graceling had this, and I felt that the pacing and the way Cashore moved the story along was very well done. The romance subplot (acutally, it might be more than a little subplot) was nicely done, warm fuzzies all around, with an interesting dynamic that I haven’t read in romance before.

A great, adventurous read.