Review: Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

“You are made of dreams and this world is not for you.”

Right when I thought my Ronan Lynch obsession had reached its peak, Call Down The Hawk comes out.

Please tell me how it’s been three full years since The Raven King came out and concluded one of the best series out there? It’s unreal. Time is just an illusion.

I still remember cracking open the first book, The Raven Boys, waiting to see if I’ll be impressed. I was completely hooked on the first line. And I sped through the series in a few days’ time. I lived with these characters for months after. I heard their lines echoed in my thoughts.

This new release couldn’t have made me happier. Having my favorite character grow alongside me is a perk granted to few. I don’t take it lightly. Having new iconic Ronan Lynch lines is a perk I don’t take for granted, as well. Having stories about his childhood? In love. Seeing his perspective on ground-breaking scenes in The Raven Cycle? Love. Seeing Declan Lynch break out of his mold? Give me more. G I V E   M E   M O R E.

Like my reviews for The Raven Cycle, I have to mention my favorite gems in here. Future me, this is all you need to know before you start on book 2 in this new trilogy:

Spoilers ahead

  • The main theme of Ronan’s conflicting thoughts on being left behind felt all too real.

“He loved the Barns, he was bored of the Barns, he wanted to leave, he wanted to stay.”

It’s truly heartbreaking to see a gang as tightknit as the gangsey all on their separate paths. From having late-night conversations in the bathroom/kitchen in The Raven Cycle to barely having once a week text contact was breaking me. This is the part of growing up that no one warns you about. So it’s no secret then that I didn’t take for Adam’s new friend group, and I was beyond glad that we didn’t have to spend more than one scene with them. They just don’t get it like the gangsey does.

  • Dauntless Declan. I am so utterly impressed with his character development. I always wanted to see more of him and Matthew, and I got just that. The dynamic between the brothers makes my heart shine.

“Thank God,” Declan said, retrieving his car keys.
“You can if you like,” Matthew said. “But I dressed myself.”
He shot a look at Ronan to make sure his joke had been funny.”

This is such a younger sibling thing to do that I can’t help but smile.

  • But then my mind always returns to that heartstopping moment when the Lynch brothers didn’t know if Matthew was safe. All you want is to know that they’re okay so you can breathe in relief. It showcased just how entangled they are.

“Ronan didn’t know who he would be without them.”

  • I highlighted so many Declan quotes because he just gets it. He understands how it feels to numb yourself so as to not feel anything until there’s a glimmer of hope for a better life.

“Because the safest shape was being both unknown and unchanging”

The Lynch brothers make me feel alive. They understand my deepest fears and most intimate thoughts. Whenever I have the chance to read their words I know I’ll feel a little less alone.

  • Ronan stepping up to help someone he doesn’t even know truly showcases just how much he’s grown. He’s become his own Gansey. He understands himself now better than ever, and it was refreshing to see him open himself up and be vulnerable to help another dreamer. The moment he revealed the significance of the leather bands on his wrist was another hit.

Again, it’s a Declan quote that tells it like it is:

“Declan hated that he loved someone who wasn’t real.” 

  • Besides, did anyone else perceive Bryde as a healthy Kavinsky? Both of them taught Ronan to take charge of his dreams. One did it a bit more provocatively, but still. I feel like he’ll have a big part in Ronan’s life. And I’m not sure with Declan’s proclamation if it’s simply platonic: “Adam wasn’t really enough for him, either, but Declan knew he hadn’t gotten that far yet.”
  • The saddest part was feeling so good reading this book and taking my time with it but also knowing that with each chapter I enjoyed, it took me closer to the end. It came to an end all too soon. I was both happy and sad reading this.
  • Also, this is how you write a follow-up book after years. You don’t info drop everything that happened over the course of four books in the first chapter. You sprinkle it in when called for. So I immensely appreciated that little detail of not dropping everything on the reader immediately. (This is something that really bothered me when starting the third book of The Diviners, “Before The Devil Breaks You”.)
  • Oh, and I encountered the perfect song that captures the darkness and subtle movements in this novel:

The first few seconds of the music playing without any words really has it all.

What else is there to say but that I need the second book now more than ever. Anticipating this release was less gruesome because I had no idea what was awaiting me. Now I know and I want my daily dose of Ronan Lynch.

Check the dreamer out for yourself with my Amazon Affiliate link:

Review: Opal by Maggie Stiefvater

If you’ve previously read my reviews* for any of the books in the Raven Cycle, you probably know by now that I’m a huge fan of Ronan Lynch. So finding out about this short story dedicated to Opal, aka Ronan’s dream girl, had me beyond keen on returning to their world.

“She was to remember that she was a secret.”

Set after the events of The Raven King, this story, like all the best things, starts with a dream. And just like that, upon opening the first page, I felt like I had never left this world, even though it’s been nearly two years since I first read the books. It’s even more magical than I could have envisioned. And I have so much to discuss, so let’s start at the very beginning:

(Spoilers from here.)

  •  We’re back at the loyal Barns, featuring Opal, Ronan, and Adam, and thanks to Opal’s excellent eavesdropping, we get an insider’s scoop into their lives that just hits the mark of satisfied:

“She had to content herself with stolen glimpses through cracked doors, slender one-inch views of duvet and sheets piled like thunderheads, Adam and sometimes Ronan pillowed among them.”

I missed my sleepy boys…

  • Good: Ronan’s intent of dreaming up a better and safer Cabeswater. Watching him dream is always one of my favorite bits because that’s Ronan at his most vulnerable. Speaking of which, this delicate shared moment made my heart flip:

“The only thing that had ever made her blink away was when Adam had once encountered Ronan in the second-floor hallway. Ronan had been standing outside of his parents’ old room, one hand holding a cassette tape and the other clenched into a fist, and he’d been there for quite a few minutes by the time Adam climbed the stairs. Adam had taken the cassette from Ronan’s hand, working Ronan’s fingers loose and putting his own fingers between them. For a moment Opal, hidden, had thought they were going to kiss. But instead, Ronan pressed his face against Adam’s neck and Adam quietly put his head on top of Ronan’s head and they did not move for a long time. Something about this made Opal burn so furiously that she could not stand to look a second longer.”

As I read, all I could think of was this fanart:

  • Ronan cares so much for Adam, and you can feel it oozing off the page through the tiniest of moments:

“Ronan was less thrilled to discover Adam’s inventive way of travel. “What the hell, Parrish? I was just about to leave to get you. Who dropped you off?”
“I walked.”
“Ha ha.” Ronan’s real laugh did not sound like ha ha, but this was not Ronan’s real laugh. When Adam didn’t explain the joke, he said, “Walked. From where?”
“Work.” Adam had ceased frolicking and instead removed his shoes and then his socks before sitting at the round table in the kitchen.
“Work. What. The. Hell. I told you I was going to pick you up.”
“I needed to walk.” Adam put his head on the table.”

  • Bad: We were saved from seeing the raven gang disperse in The Raven King, but it’s pretty much unavoidable here… and I wasn’t ready.

“I’m coming back,” he said.
She tore up some more grass, but she felt a little less wobbly having heard him say it.
“I don’t want to go, but I do — does that make sense?” he asked her. It did, especially if she thought about how some of her dreamthing’s happy-sadness might have rubbed off on him because they were sitting so close. “It’s just that it’s finally starting. You know. Life.”

You deserve so much, Adam.

  • Good: Seeing things captured through Opal’s eyes was a curious experiment that I find this passage conveys best:

“Ronan was not there to tell Opal it was all right for this visitor to see her, so Opal hid herself and watched the lady stalk through the mist to the back door. The lady tried the doorknob and the doorknob shook its head no, but then she opened her purse and did something else to the doorknob and the door said yes and opened for her.”

To capture the otherworldliness of Opal I simply had to listen to this equally mesmerizing song:

If anything, this swift read prepared me for any and all future events set to occur next. I just hope the wait for the following book won’t be too long.

“There were no rules in dreams so you could try anything.”

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Opal, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith by Gina B. Nahai

I was keen on finding a read with hints of magical realism in it, when I came across this wonder of a book centered on just that, with the added bonus of featuring the Jewish ghetto of Tehran.

Similar to one of my favorite multigenerational books, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, this reads starts off on a prominent related cast of female characters with a hint of otherworldliness in their everyday life. Spinning tales of signs and superstitions, falling victim to the inevitability of Destiny, featuring dreams and memories of ghosts, and stories of wayward ancestors, it seemed like I’d hit jackpot with picking up Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith.

All they wanted was to stay in one place long enough to belong. 

And for the first part of the book, I had nothing but praise in my words. I especially appreciated the grand, layered storytelling that reveals itself with time. You’re never sure of a single thing until you’ve followed the tale and its characters to the end. Which is where my appreciation for the peculiar side characters comes in. Their world, full of superstition, had me in its spinning webs. Most notably, Alexandra the Cat, whose every move was clouded with an air of mystery, was the first to catch my attention. Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith 1-- bookspoils

This above passage was a prime example of having a storyline that doesn’t disappear with the next chapter. And having it all click together was beyond satisfying to experience.

Which is what saddened me most about the novel, knowing that the minute our main character, Roxanna, would move away from her family’s home, and later her place at Alexandra’s, the book would deteriorate in time.

Because unlike the novel I mention at the start of my review, the Jewish theme, which I thought would be a prevalent one and what had me so keen on reading this book, was practically non-existent the more I read on; it disappeared with the generations. And I don’t feel like I learned anything solid about the cultural value within the Jewish ghetto of Tehran. I feel like we barely received any scenes of camaraderie, or even simple dialogue exchanged between the Iranian-Jewish characters to receive some semblance of home and community.

It also didn’t help that at the same time that I put all these points together, Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith was starting to lose its steam for me. Knowing this book wasn’t going to have a saving grace in the upcoming pages for me, I decided it best to quit ahead, as I could feel myself growing agitated and furious with the upcoming storyline.

It’s such a shame as well because this started out as an interesting tale of intersecting family lines and dealing with the burden of Destiny, yet ended on such a miserable case of virtually abandoning all the character building we had for Roxanna’s family, and instead putting the focus on her new marital home where she feels like an outsider, and as a result, so did I as the reader. All this leads in the end to her daughter, Lili, being stuck in the hands of strangers, which is where the utter disregard for their religion is shown most notably in the form of sending her off to a Catholic school… While her mother is off doing who knows what to reach her supposed ‘freedom’ that she didn’t even get to receive.Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith 2-- bookspoilsAt a certain point, the book just hit a point where the story wasn’t really moving forward or contributing any valid information that propelled the characters along. Like, there’s literally a whole page dedicated to expanding on a random bus driver who has no point in the overarching theme… And I had to put a stop to it by declaring enough is enough.

Bottom line: I’d only recommend reading this book for its introducing fifty-something pages that encompass and expand on so much.

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils star

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!