Top Ten Books That Will Make You (Or At Least Me) Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So, it’s actually really hard for books to make me cry.  And honestly, often I don’t read the kind of book that does.  I have to be in a very specific mood to intentionally put myself in the way of a thing that will make me THAT miserable.  So this is a very specific list of books that have made ME cry, instead of the more general ‘you’ mentioned in the meme.

1.  Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein: seriously, how do you NOT cry when reading this book?  Verity is so beautiful and so brave and Maddie is so stubborn and courageous and FRIENDSHIP and TRAGEDY and EVERYTHING IS HARD OKAY.

2.  Rose Under Fire, also by Elizabeth Wein: in case Code Name Verity didn’t make me cry hard enough, the exact same author turned around and came out with a book that was even harder to read.

3.  The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver: one of these days I’m going to get around to talking about why this is NOT the middle-aged mom book that everyone thinks it is, and why it was perfect for my fifteen-year-old angst-ridden self, and why I love it so dearly.  But in the meantime, know that her descriptions of grief and mourning, especially the numb few days after a death, are spot-on, and made me cry.

4.  Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson: this book broke my heart the first time I read it and I ended up crying in the backseat on the way home from the bookstore.  (The bookstore was an hour away, I had a while to read it.)  Then I read it again, a few years later, when I’d been much closer to similarly horrible events, and my heart broke all over again.

5.  Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes: did they make you read this one in school?  Apparently they do that, but I read it on my own.  Fun fact: losing my mental facilities is one of the deepest, most poignant fears I have.  Yeah.

6.  Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater: okay, this one’s not quite fair, but I don’t read a lot of books that make me cry!  I read it after a breakup and the genuine sweetness of the romance in this book was beautiful and hopeful and incredibly hard to take.

7.  Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater: this one IS fair.  There is a scene in this book in which Grace is sick–maybe dying–and her parents, because they don’t like or trust her boyfriend, won’t let him see her.  Hospitals have a deep sort of horror for me–I’ve spent too much time in them, not as a patient but as a loved one–and the fear of not being able to be close to someone I love when they’re dying, to lose out on what could be their last moments, is something I absolutely would have had to face, if my parents hadn’t been so understanding about my desire to stay close.  Other people’s parents made it abundantly clear to me that they wouldn’t have let me stay, and that terrified and saddened me.  The utter powerlessness of a hospital is incredibly hard to take.

So yeah that scene made me cry.

8.  Last Night I Sang To The Monster, by Benjamin Alire Saenz: wow, it’s been forever since I’ve read this book.  I don’t know if it’s as good, or as sad, as I remember it being.  But it’s another book that had me crying on the way home from the bookstore.

9.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman: this one made me cry IN THE FIRST FREAKING CHAPTER.  SERIOUSLY THE THING WAS NOT OKAY.  …beautiful amazing book, though, please read it?

10.  The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: I reread this recently, after my boyfriend, who gets very literary when he’s tired, read some pieces of it to me in French.   I originally read it when I was extremely little, and although I didn’t remember much of it, the feeling of it stayed with me.

I have no idea why it made me cry, but it did.  Maybe it’s the clash of childhood and adulthood, maybe it’s the simple childlike sadness.  I know the themes of regret really do me in–and I know it wouldn’t hit me so hard if it didn’t carry associations from my very, very early days of reading, when I was too little to have a barrier between my feelings and the page.  But it’s as beautiful as I remember it being, more like a poem, really, than a story.

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Waiting on Wednesday: “Sinner” by Maggie Stiefvater

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

SinnerTitle: Sinner

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

ETA: July 1st, 2014

Summary from Goodreads Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

Why I’m Waiting: Okay, I’m cheating a little, because anybody who pays attention to my reviewing habits knows that OF COURSE I am psyched about this.  But I’m allowed to cheat because I’ve been on medical hiatus.  Also, look at that summary.  How is it that summaries for Maggie’s books always sound uninteresting and then the actual books are always nothing like the summaries?

The truth is, Cole St Clair is one of the most intense, attention-grabbing characters I’ve ever encountered on paper (caveat: I wouldn’t want to be friends with him), and the chance to revisit his crazy, screwed-up brain is a pleasure I never thought I’d have.  I don’t need a summary to know this will be good; I know it will be more than good, because Maggie’s writing has improved since the Shiver trilogy and Cole was fantastic to start with.   And look, it comes out within weeks of my birthday!  Could the universe love me any more?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

So, this week’s Top Ten makes the caveat that this list is set in a perfect world where movies don’t generally make a huge mess of things we love.  With that in mind, here’s my top ten, for various reasons…in no particular order, and thrown together hastily, late at night, after a very long day…

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Weekly Wrap Up + Stacking the Shelves for 8-31-13

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Hey guys! It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done one of these, so this isn’t so much of a “weekly” wrap up as much as a “here’s what’s happened since the last one.” My Stacking the Shelves this week is also huge, but mostly because I just bought a bunch of books for college. No, I’m not StS-ing with textbooks – I’m showing off the books I bought for one of my awesomest classes, “Studies in YA and Children’s Lit!” (Plus, you know, actual review books.) As always, watch the video for the views, and check out the links below!

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ARC REVIEW: “THE DREAM THIEVES” BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER

The Dream ThievesThe Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Goodreads | Amazon

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…

Four and a half stars

Thanks to Scholastics and NetGalley for this eARC! This title will be released September 17th, 2013.

Warning: this review will contain spoilers for The Raven Boys. See my review of the first book HERE.

Given my last review, it will come as no surprise to anybody that I love this book. If the writing was only good instead of awesome and the plot was only so-so, I would adore it for the characters alone. But the writing is amazing—maybe the best yet. I had to resist the urge to quote random sentences at literally everybody.

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TOP TEN MOST MEMORABLE SECONDARY CHARACTERS

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

I tried to remind myself that ‘memorable’ does not always mean ‘awesome’, but this came out mostly good guys anyway, with the exception of Kossil and the technical boy.  Do the bad guys not get fleshed-out secondary characters?  Or am I just low on imagination right now?  (Also, hi everybody!  First Real Marina Post is apparently a Top Ten post!  Welcome to my literary tastes!)  Anyway, in no particular order…

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ARC Review: “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Goodreads | Amazon

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

5 stars

Thank you to Scholastics and NetGalley for this ARC! You can get a copy for yourself on September 18th, 2012.

*Note from Gretchen: Before this review gets started, I would like to take a moment to welcome my first guest reviewer! As this blog gets bigger and bigger, I’ve found I can’t handle to review load on my own. Therefore, I turned to a longtime friend to help with the load, and this is her first review! So give a warm welcome to Marina, who also happens to be a HUGE DIEHARD Maggie Stiefvater fan.

I have a confession to make: I did not agree to guest-post here because I was doing a favor for Gretchen.  I agreed because she said “Raven Boys!” and I said “GIMME.”  Because I am very fond of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.   I am not Gretchen, but I assure you I’m usually very picky, so all the gushing I’m about to do is completely out of character for me.

But with that out of the way, READ THIS BOOK.

There are complicated, damaged characters who behave like real people.  There’s magic just inaccessible and strange enough to be believed, and there are trees that speak Latin.  There are guns and helicopters and fancy cars that break down.  There’s even a raven named Chainsaw.  What’s not to love?

Read this book because it will surprise you.  I’m used to knowing vaguely what’s going to happen, because I read way too much and after a while there are patterns, but this one surprised me no less than three times (and possibly more, I wasn’t counting.)   It’s been a long time since I’ve been genuinely astonished, and it was immensely satisfying, even though I was left staring in horror at the words and saying “MAGGIE WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.”

Read this book because Blue is not a boring only-there-for-the-romance female protagonist.  She’s an actual, interesting character who is unusual and awesome in her own right.  When Gansey gets condescending, she doesn’t just get offended; she shames him and then shames him again and again until he behaves.   Love at first sight is not on Blue’s agenda.  Actually, relationships as a whole are not on Blue’s agenda, and when she does get into one it’s sweet and quiet and cautious—just like first relationships should be, particularly with the addition of Blue’s “If you kiss your true love he will die” curse.  Unlike a lot of the insta-love relationships that Gretchen’s always complaining about, this one felt real.  Because the characters are shy and careful, the relationship was too, and to me, at least, that made it all the sweeter.

Speaking of relationships, the relationship between the raven boys—Adam, Ronan, Noah, and Gansey—was brilliant.  They’re all damaged, they’re all struggling, and the group quietly makes adjustments for whoever needs it at the time.   When Ronan, who is definitely the most outwardly damaged, is discovered to be missing, the seamless way his friends come together to search for him is heartbreaking, because it’s so clear they’ve done this before.  They know where to look and how to look.   They’re not demonstrative; sometimes—often—they’re not even that much alike.  But they’re unflaggingly, ferociously loyal to each other, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

My only objection: this is the first book in a four-book series.  While it is a self-contained story, there are plot threads that I am dying to have resolved that just really aren’t.  The part of me that is a writer (I write stuff, by the way) accepts this and understands why it works.  The part of me that is a reader is dying to read more.  The last line is…not a cliffhanger, since cliffhangers imply unresolved action, but suffice to say that several of the raven boys are hiding things, and not all of them explain those things before the book is through.   Now I have to wait another year to find out and it’s KILLING ME.

This is a book about people who desperately want something—not always the same things—and the reasons why they want it, and what they’re willing to do to get it.  It’s a book about people who are trying very hard, despite a number of different things making life difficult, from abusive parents to prophecies to awesome sad things I can’t say due to spoilers (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, NOAH AND RONAN).  The characters are gorgeous, the relationships are delightfully, painfully real, and the plot…will definitely keep you on your toes.  I’m giving this four and a half stars because as a guest reviewer I don’t feel right giving five.  I assure you I’m normally quite picky, and if this was my blog it would be five, so don’t let the missing half star fool you; read this book! [Note from Gretchen: Don’t be silly, Marina. I finally got around to reading this, and we’re totally going with five stars. And that is my endorsement of this review.]

* P.S.   Gretchen has given me permission to translate the untranslated Latin in Chapter 12 (as a Classics major, I can do useless things like Latin but not useful things like cooking), so here goes: Ostendes tuum et ostendam meus means I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours.  That seems out of the blue now, but it will all make sense when you meet Ronan Lynch.  And his Latin teacher.  You’re welcome.