Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

crooked saintsI’ll admit that when I first read the description of Maggie Stiefvater’s latest book, it didn’t sound like something that would be up my alley. Then again, I thought the same thing about Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races, and that one immediately become one of my top ten favorite books (review here).

Of course I purchased it. Of course I read it. It’s Maggie Stiefvater.

And it was great. But in a different way from her other books, which I’ll try to explain in a minute.

First, what’s it about? All the Crooked Saints is about three cousins in Bicho Raro, Colorado, in the 60’s: Beatriz, “the girl without feelings”; Daniel, the Saint (who performs miracles for pilgrims who travel to their ranch); and Joaquin, who DJs a pirated radio station from a truck in the desert. There is a wide cast of characters between the residents of Bicho Raro and the pilgrims who must remain there until their darkness is vanquished.

You see, Daniel performs the first miracle for the pilgrims, which makes their darkness manifest itself in some way, but the pilgrims must perform their second miracle, which makes the darkness go away. Until then, they remain at the ranch, where the resident Soria family is not able to help them.

This is magical realism, which I suppose one could argue is what all of Maggie’s books are, though I would probably be more likely to file them under “fantasy.” This book reads more like a fairy tale– and even as I write that, I’m not sure that captures it. Think Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers (review) vs. Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn (here). More The Last Unicorn (here), less Finnikin of the Rock (here). Just south of Bone Gap (here). (What? “Just south of Bone Gap” is not a clear description of a book? Pshhh!)

(And, to be clear, I love all the books I just mentioned … but for different reasons.)

The reasons I loved All the Crooked Saints:

  • the imagery
  • the magic
  • the miracles
  • the stories
  • the way everything fits into place.

As I put it on Instagram …

crooked insta

Operation: Adulting, Part Two

Well, folks, I keep moving forward in my efforts to get my crap together for/in 2017. In addition to creating a budget and subscribing to all my recurring expenses (which you can read about here):

  1. I created a custom planner with Wrights Notes. Mine has my own personal weekly to-do list on the left page of each spread and a weekly calendar on the right. I freaking love lists.
  2. I’ve been cooking for myself. Mostly eggs.
  3. I ordered a bunch of stuff to organize my closet, in the hopes that this will help me to keep my room in better order. I’m kind of excited.
  4. I returned to my therapist for the first time in maybe nine months. It was so good to go over everything that’s happened since I’d been there and see how much I’d grown.

Good news.

Got an email from my editor last weekend.

Subject: just finished

Body: your beautiful book.
Wow. Just wow.
You did all that?
Totally incredible.
I wish I could zap you a big bouquet of flowers and a chandelier.

I can’t tell you what a relief this is. With my editor on board with this novel, I feel like I can tackle any revisions.

In fact, she sent me a list of questions to be considering as we move forward with revising/restructuring this thing. This week has been so busy that I haven’t had a moment to think on it, but tomorrow and Sunday I hope to spend thinking, praying, and journaling in search of my next steps. Think of me.


Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

dreamologyAlice has dreamed of Max for as long as she can remember– in her dreams, they are happy and in love, going on the kind of crazy adventures that can only happen in dreams.

When Alice moves to Boston, though, Max is in her psychology class at her new school! Except this Max seems detached … and he has a girlfriend.

I really enjoyed this one! There were some really great lines, and I especially loved the character of Oliver, one of Alice’s new friends. I loved the dream sequences, and it was fun to tweet with Lucy Keating while I read it too. An interesting concept, though the conflict at the end confused me a little bit. All in all, an enjoyable, light read!


Spread Some TRUEST Love Today!

Would you consider re-blogging this post, sharing a link to it, or pinning/sharing/using one of the images below in your social media? #Truest

My debut novel Truest comes out on September 1st, and I couldn’t be more excited to introduce the world to these characters who have captured my heart! The highlight of 2014 for me was when I got an email from my editor that said:

I don’t know why it took me so long to finish this version. But I just did and all I can say is WOW. I just think it’s the kind of book that will change kids and adults, too–forever. Jackie–it’s just a beautiful book. You’ve written something meaningful, deep, thought provoking, sexy and uber-romantic.

To learn more about Truest— or to pre-order your copy, click here. FINAL MEET THE CHARACTERS FINAL BLOG BANNERTruest quote storm cell Truest alacrity truest baptism with website White genuine leather classical style sofa in vintage room with desk lamp

Fresh organic oranges halves  fruits on blue wooden background with copy space

man plays the guitar on the street. retro style.


red shoe truest

Book Characters I’d Like Updates On

I’ve told you before that I think a lot about book characters outside of the actual novels. Here are a few characters I’d like to check in with.

Susan Pevensie | After the railway accident … (I’ve actually thought about this one so much that I wrote a story about it called “Nine Names“)

Raffy & Chaz | In Jellicoe Road, it is hinted that these two have a story that continues. I want to know it.

Jimmy Hailer | Always. And Melina Marchetta keeps hinting that we’re actually going to get his story too:

jimmy hailer 2

Rose Weasley | And Scorpius Malfoy too. Duh.

poppetPoppet Murray | Take me back to The Night Circus please, Erin Morgenstern– I want Poppet and Bailey’s love story!

Maddie Brodatt & Jamie Beaufort-Stuart | Fascinated by these two from Code Name:Verity and Rose Under Fire. Want more.

Puck & Sean | But of course. I’ve got my head-canon, but I want Maggie Stiefvater’s words.

Quintana of Charyn | If you can’t tell, my answer is always, “More Marchetta please!”

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Broke & Bookish.

YA Junkie [& proud of it]

A few odds and ends from the Land of YA Lit …

I joined Oblong Insider because I EVEN WANT BOOKS I DON’T KNOW THAT I WANT.  Yes, it’s true.  I signed up for a YA book subscription where someone else chooses books for me because WHY NOT.  I filled out a form that asked for my favorite books and authors so they could get a feel for what I liked, and then– voila!— the other day, I got my first package!

Look at this stuff!  I got Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens (a book for which I’ve read great reviews!), an awesome “I read YA” book bag, and a matching button.  Too cute!

ya swag

Yes, of course I love buying and choosing books on my own, but this is so fun and exciting, like unwrapping a birthday present!

Also, someone muttered some fightin’ words online:

fighting back

Seriously??!  What is wrong with people?

Also, thought Teen Librarian’s Toolbox posted an interesting article about how we guide teens into a safe discussion about sex in literature.  You can read it here.

Also, my friend Mary has got me thinking and dreaming about what the cover of Truest will look like.  (Note: I will likely have no say in this.)  But an author can dream, right?

Also, Maggie Stiefvater is going to be at the SCBWI summer conference.  I thought about going, but in the end, I think I’ve decided to stay put.

Also, Buzzfeed’s 19 True Struggles of Being Addicted to YA Books as an Adult.

Also, also, also … !

I love YA lit.

Word Association Book Survey

Almost a year ago, I made a valiant attempt at writing fan fiction.  I used an already-created set of 50 words as one-sentence prompts.  Today, I’m going to use those same 50 words as the framework for a word association book survey.  Join me and post your own!


What book(s) do the following words make you think of?

#01 – Comfort

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
When kids act like grown-ups …

#02 – Kiss

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Oh, Jonah Griggs.

#03 – Soft

Ordinary People by Judith Guest
“He mimicked her soft soprano.”

#04 – Pain

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Just read it.

#05 – Potatoes

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
One more thing to steal.  Oh Arthur Berg.

#06 – Rain

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Joe Fontaine. Rain. Kiss. Yes.

#07 – Chocolate

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Professor Lupin was breaking an enormous slab of chocolate into pieces. “Here,” he said to Harry, handing him a particularly large piece. “Eat it. It’ll help.”

#08 – Happiness

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Mixed candy.

#09 – Telephone

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
“Seamus told me that Dean told him that Parvati …”

#10 – Ears

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
When Adam’s ears turned pink and Blue noticed!

#11 – Name

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
I can’t not think of it with a prompt like “name.”

#12 – Sensual

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
When Perry is teaching Aria about poisonous berries … gosh.

#13 – Death

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Death is, after all, the narrator of this book.

#14 – Sex

Froi of the Exiles
Am I right, or am I right?

#15 – Touch

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The main character’s touch is lethal.

#16 – Weakness

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

#17 – Tears

The Shatter Me series
Does it feel like Juliette is always crying?

#18 – Speed

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

#19 – Wind

Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

#20 – Freedom

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Out in the Death Shop!

#21 – Life

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

#22 – Jealousy

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Oh Tom.

#23 – Hands

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

#24 – Taste

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta
Dirty girl, Jackie Lea!

#25 – Devotion

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Will Trombal’s tatt.  Enough said.

#26 – Forever

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
Fo. Sho.

#27 – Blood

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Not why you’d expect.

#28 – Sickness

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The kiddos meet in cancer support group.

#29 – Melody

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
Blood sings to blood.

#30 – Star

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Coriakin. Ramandu.

#31 – Home

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

#32 – Confusion

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Giant HUH moment.

#33 – Fear

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Earth’s rotation is slowing …

#34 – Lightning/Thunder

#35 – Bonds

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
Another tatt.

#36 – Market

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

#37 – Technology

The Chaos Walking trilogy!

#38 – Gift

Everyday by David Levithan
Just read it.  You’ll see what I mean.

#39 – Smile

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
I have never read a more walloping description of a smile.

#40 – Innocence

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montegomery

#41 – Completion

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

#42 – Clouds

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The cover. 🙂

#43 – Sky

Under the Never Sky series

#44 – Heaven

The Mortal Instruments series
It’s about angels, yo!

#45 – Hell

The Mortal Instruments series
It’s about demons, yo!

#46 – Sun

This is Shyness by Leanne Hall
The sun doesn’t rise in Shyness.

#47 – Moon

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
“All night, Aslan and the moon stared at one another with unblinking eyes.” (Or something like that.)

#48 – Waves

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

#49 – Hair

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
I always think of that line: “The kiss was serious.  Serious like my hair, thought Janie.” 🙂


Fire by Kristin Cashore
Oh, that hair!

#50 – Supernova

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Because Augustus is amazing. 🙂

What book did these words make YOU think of?  

YA reading list

It was time for me to re-evaluate my top 10 young adult books.  So, without your seeing my raging internal debate*, I very cleanly present to you the following:

1) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
2) Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
5) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
7) Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
8) Fire by Kristin Cashore
9) Unwind by Neil Shusterman
10) Every Day by David Levithan

*Ugh, I hate making top 10 lists of books– it’s so hard for me.  Even now, I see that I’ve favored books I’ve read more recently over some of the “classics.”  Tuck Everlasting.  Bridge to Terabithia.  The Secret Garden.  It seems like a crime to leave these off the list.  The Pigman.  When You Reach Me.  A Monster Calls.  

Oh gosh.  Anne of Green Gables.  How could I leave Anne off this list– especially when I’ve included other books much more controversial?  Or The Sky is Everywhere, which is better written than several books on the list?

Next time I do this, I need to be more specific with the name of my list.  Top 10 YA Books I’d Never Want to Live Without … if that were the list title, it would be different than the list above.  Top 10 YA Books That Made Me Think.  There!  That more accurately fits the list above.

Okay, it is time to quit obsessing over this list, which only 100 people are even going to see anyway.

What I’d rather do is give you a must-read book list personalized to your reading tastes.  I LOVE doing this, so let me know if you’re interested.



books books books

Just finished …

Reached by Ally Condie | This is book three of the Matched trilogy (preceded by Matched and Crossed).  If you’re not familiar with the concept of these books, they are set in the future in a time when the Society rules and in order to “simplify” things, the Society has only retained 100 poems, 100 stories, 100 etc., etc. from the past.  As teenagers, couples are “matched”– and that is whom you will marry.  The first book was quite fascinating because Cassia was matched with her best friend Xander but was secretly falling in love with Ky.  The second book was much less interesting, particularly because Cassia, Xander, and Ky were all separated– I essentially skimmed Crossed.  I still wanted to know how the story ended, so I requested Reached from the library long before it was released and was relatively near the top of the waiting list (within the first 100 probably).  I started reading it, and it was more interesting than the second book, but the library book ended up being due back sooner than I could finish it, so I skimmed the rest of the book (a very thorough skim!), and I think I made the right choice.  It was good, and I liked the ending, and Condie has brilliant moments in these books, but all told, I think the third book might have been drawn out too long.  Can’t say for sure since I didn’t fully get to read it.  But I don’t think I will return to it to do just that.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta | I re-read this one, this time on audio, and was just as thrilled with it the second time through.  Finnikin’s country has seen half of the people in bondage inside the country’s borders and half of the people in exile outside of it.  He is on a quest to come up with a solution of some kind, and he has to take a young novice named Evanjalin with him.  This book has lovely twists and surprises, and it is such a delight.  This second time through (since I knew the ending), I would actually talk aloud to the characters in my car: “Oooooh, you’re gonna regret that later!!” and “Oh man, if you only knew what I knew!!”  I know I’m a nerd.  But it’s pretty awesome when a book can suck you in that much– especially with all its secrets already laid bare.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore | This book was recommended to me by a friend, but others warned me that I wouldn’t like the ending, so I devoured it … but nervously.  I loved the characters in this story about a land where some people are Graced– that is, they have a special skill.  Katsa’s skill is killing– or so she thinks.  She meets Po, another Graceling, and they go to another country in search of a secret.  It is fascinating, and the dialogue is incredible.  Loved this book, even though I read it nervous that I’d hate the ending.  And did I?  No.  Not exactly.  It wasn’t as disappointing as I’d been guessing from the warnings I’d been given.  Still– it is obvious that Cashore is a feminist, and she inserted her beliefs into this book decently, I thought (though I am not a feminist myself).

Fire by Kristin Cashore | This is a companion book to Graceling, although it has a new set of characters, save for one important person.  This. Book. Was. Great.  Wow!!  I think I liked it even better than Graceling— maybe since I could relate better to Fire, the protagonist, than to Katsa.  This book takes place in a kingdom east of the lands where Graceling occurs, in The Dells, a kingdom on the verge of civil war and filled with gorgeous but dangerous “monsters”– monster animals … and even a few monster humans.  Fire is a monster human, with bright orange-red-gold-pink hair that is so beautiful that many people can’t control themselves around her.  She can also read minds and influence them, although she has been careful with her power and guards herself against manipulating others.  She can read almost anyone’s mind … except for Prince Brigan, the younger brother of the king.  When the royal family asks Fire to use her powers to save the kingdom, Fire has to make some big decisions … and she is mysteriously drawn to and scared of Brigan, who looks at her with hate.  I loved these characters– so real, so flawed, so layered.  I love the conversations Cashore creates, and I love the secrets she reveals at strategic times in both this story and Graceling.  This is a must-read.  And while you can read this book without reading Graceling, it is even more fascinating if you have.

Every Day by David Levithan | I have been intending to read this book for so long, and I finally got it on audio from the library (though I purchased the hardcover months ago).  Audiobooks I seem to get through faster, since I use a lot of my free time for writing instead of reading– but you can’t write while driving! 🙂  This. Book. Was. Fascinating.  First there is A, who inhabits a new body every day.  A has done this for 16 years without questioning it too much until one perfect day A spends with Rhiannon.  After that, A wants to spend EVERY day with this girl.  This is a problem, obviously.  I have never read a more gender-bending book in my life– some days A is a girl, some days A is boy, all days A loves Rhiannon.  I just gobbled this book up, could not wait to find out what would happen next.  The ending was PERFECT and unexpected, but I can’t tell you how it made me feel because I want you to experience it for yourself.  Interestingly, the audiobook was read by a girl.  I didn’t know if that was subliminal or not … on the other hand, although A is the protagonist, since A changes bodies daily, Rhiannon’s voice is the most consistent one, so in that sense, it fits that they chose a female reader.  The book was really, really, really good– except for the moments Levithan got on his homosexual soapbox.  Those diatribes interrupted the story and felt as if Levithan were intruding out of nowhere.  The book already makes the reader ask a lot of questions; I didn’t think Levithan needed to provide his own answers.  All that said, though, this is an EXCELLENT book.  I loved it, as in, really, REALLY loved it.  Highly recommend.


Currently reading …

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | Got this on audio for Christmas and so am re-reading this one.  Jim Dale is the narrator!!!

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore | The sequel to Graceling … I AM LOVING IT!!!  Almost done … review to come.

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | Just as brilliant the second time around.


Up next …

Son by Lois Lowry | The brand-new fourth book in The Giver series!

Divergent by Veronica Roth | It’s about time, right? 🙂