Let it snow

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Let it snow

Snow, Christmas and romance. The perfect combo, don’t you think? Let it snow plays its cards to full. John Green presents the reader with the “best mates into lovers” recipe, Maureen Johnson goes for the “meet your soulmate when you least expect it” formula and Lauren Myracle tells about the difficulty of transitioning from the want of being loved to loving someone.

Let it snow in Read, Write and Publish by Susan Wilander

The themes are old and well worn, but the execution is sweet and fits perfectly in a Christmas story. After all, this is the kind of book you’ll start reading seeing the happy end in your mind. No wonder there’s a movie coming – this is a sure-fire December blockbuster.

Maureen Johnson: The Jubilee Express

In the first story Jubilee thinks she has the perfect boyfriend until life throws her into a snowy chaos and her boyfriend couldn’t care less. Even then it is hard to admit the facts a gorgeous outsider called Stuart so eagerly presents to her… Especially as his mother seems to be overly enthusiastic to get his son dating again.

Maureen Johnson combines humour, incredulous incidents and romance in a way that sucks the reader into the world she’s created. However, to me as a person grown and lived most of my life in the northern coldness, the main characters’ habit of wrapping plastic bags as a cover for snowstorm is somewhat absurd. That would effectively freeze them to death – especially after getting themselves soaking wet in below freezing temperatures…

John Green: A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle

John Green presents a trio so familiar to his style: two boys and a girl, who’s really one of the boys. It’s clear from the beginning where this story is going. Maybe Green’s talent as a writer becomes even more evident in the fact that this doesn’t reduce the appeal of the story one little bit? Tobin and the Duke find the courage to tell each other about their feelings after a crazy run-around in the snowstorm.

Lauren Myracle: The Patron Saint of Pigs

Addie seems to have a completely different problem from the previous stories. She’s ended her relationship with Jeb due to her own mishap after a pointless argument. Addie’s life seems to revolve around her own navel, until an unexpected Christmas Angel pushes her to face her problems in a completely new way. Addie learns something about herself and when she finally gets a chance to patch things up with Jeb, she’s better prepared.

Gabriel the-teacup-pig has a large part in the last story – a nice touch after the not-so-perfect boyfriend Noah in the first story hangs up with Jubilee in order to carry a huge ham to Christmas smorgasbord…

Susan

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Maggie Stiefvater: Sinner

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Maggie Stiefvater: Sinner (Viettelys in Finnish)

I’m a werewolf in L.A.” You can’t beat that line, can you? If a novel starts like that, you know you’ve been taken to a ride, and a fast one.

Maggie Stiefvater Sinner/Viettelys in Read, Write and Publish

This was the first book by Maggie Stiefvater I read. And it swept my feet under me. It’s a spin off of the Shiver/Mercy Falls trilogy, which I hadn’t read at the time, but it didn’t matter. Stiefvater has the ability to take the reader inside the minds of her characters, in a way you can actually feel their feelings and actions.

The blurb sets expectations that at least for me were not entirely positive, but already on the first page I had to re-check those expectations. This is in no way an ordinary werewolf rock star romance (can you really put together ordinary and werewolf rock star romance?)

Isabel and Cole are characters who have angst and issues overflowing. Their relationship is a continuous roller coaster ride and in Sinner it has moved from Mercy Falls to the L.A. With this change, the wolf part has been swept under a bit. Cole gets his wolf moments, but you could exchange them with any other unhealthy distraction. Which is just fine. In the L.A. setting there’s really no need for a wildlife other than Cole St. Clair himself.

The lives of the main characters are fascinating in their struggle to make sense in themselves and each other and get over their personal ghosts. This could easily end up pathetic and even gross, considering some of the events, but Stiefvater turns it out beautifully enthralling. And at the same time she gives a grand tour to the workings of the entertainment world.

Isabel and Cole stole my compassion and rode me along their story through anguish, pain and delirious happiness with such a force that when I turned the last page of the book, I wasn’t quite sure what had possessed me, but I sure longed for more. So much so, that after reading through the Mercy Falls trilogy (backstory for Sinner, if you will) I had to reread Sinner. It was just as good as the first time.

Susan

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?

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Maggie Stiefvater: Shiver trilogy

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Maggie Stiefvater: Shiver, Linger, Forever

There are werewolves, and then there are Sam and Grace. And Cole.

Have you ever read a trilogy and realized it was just a long prology? This happened to me, no fault of Maggie Stiefvater, but the fact I read Sinner before Shiver.

Maggie Stiefvater Shiver in Read, Write and Publish

Shiver was my second Stiefvater book. After Sinner, it felt a bit plain at first. This is a slower, more delicate story. But it grows through the book and in the end I was glad I could hop on to the next one in series, Linger, right away. It would have been too painful to wait for a year (or more).

Shiver tells the story of Grace, a girl whose parents are emotionally neglecting her and who has a life changing experience of a meet up with wolves. Now in her teens, Grace stumbles on her hopes and fears as Sam appears in the scene. They become inseparable, for want and necessity alike. This puts a little bit strain on the credibility of the setup Stiefvater has created, so much so, that apparently she recognized the need to address the issue in the story itself. As Sam is trying to remain human, he is also forced to remain in Grace’s house, unknown to her parents, basically dependent on Grace.

In the next book of the series, Linger, the problem is shoveled up into the faces of the readers and a confrontation with Grace’s parents is inevitable. The reactions of the parents and Grace’s relationship with them take a more and more prominent stage. At the same time Grace is under a new threat, this time directed against her.

Linger has plenty of the same beauty that Shiver, but the frustrating situation with Grace’s parents felt a bit too frustrating to read too. In this book Isabel has a bigger role and Cole St. Clare makes his entry and these two characters pretty much steal the show.

Forever is the culmination of the story of Sam and Grace. Their love is peaceful and natural – like an old couple, except they’re teenagers and fighting for their lives as wolfs. How does Stiefvater manage to combine these two opposite elements? But even more than a closure for Sam and Grace, this book is the real beginning for Isabel and Cole.

Forever brings the story of the werewolves to an inevitable climax that has been in the air since the first book, with a solution that gives each main character a decisive role – well suited to their personalities.

I’ve pretty much stayed clear of other werewolf stories (yes, there’s some werewolves in Harry Potter and Mortal Instruments series) so I can’t make many comparisons, but I think Stiefvater’s creations are quite elegant. When wolves, the characters are real wolves and it adds another level to the story. Can we ever really relate to another species? Our senses, perception of the world and desires are so different. Yet, we share some fundamental similarities: a need to survive and a want for pleasure. The question is where do these two things take us?

Stiefvater’s trilogy took me back to reread the Sinner – a spin off telling the tale of Isabel and Cole in California.

Susan

 

The pack circled around me, tongues and teeth and growls.

When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace’s small town becomes a place of fear and suspicion. But Grace can’t help being fascinated by the pack, and by one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. There’s something about him – something almost human.

Then she meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away…

A chilling love story that will have you hooked from the very first page.

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