First let me say that I think this is a totally amazing thing that Beth Revis is doing. Not only are the books being offered amazing, but the way that this event is getting people to connect with each other and consider their love of what they read is wonderful as well.
It's taken me some time to decide how I wanted to handle answering this. There are so many books that I have loved and that have effected me in varying ways. Deciding which to talk about was truly a challenge!
First, a few quick honorable mentions:
Should I talk about the Harry Potter series? These wonderful stories have bound my entire family together through their blend of magic, adventure and unforgettable characters.With the releases of the movies, even non-readers like my father have been able to get in on the fun.
Or perhaps I should choose Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon? Far and away one of my favorite books and has been for a long time. (I bought it when it released in 2004 and have read it multiple times since.) It has served as my "go-to" book whenever life has tried to knock me down for many years now. Surely that's a good reason to give gratitude to a book?
Or perhaps I should talk about Summer on Fire by Kevin Craig? It captures what it was like to live in a small town during the 80s with such beautiful clarity and such authentic characters that it lead to my aunt and I getting together to have our own little I-Love-the-80's celebration the weekend after she finished reading it. The fact that this is the book that pretty much started my blog doesn't hurt, either. This is where I learnt that what I say about what I read can truly matter. Knowing that I have lead someone else to read a beautiful book is a wonderful thing.
Still with me? Awesome. Because I'm still not satisfied with my answer. How about Wither? When I read the description of this book for the first time over on Amazon I threw the book I was reading at the wall and went "What?!". Wither taught me two things: (1) It's important to be brave enough to read things that push our buttons because if we don't we will not grow as readers. And (2) Pay attention to your own feelings about what you're reading, rather then what others are saying -- I need to up this book a star. I didn't realize how much impact it had on me until weeks after I reviewed it when I was *still* thinking about it.
Yet with all of the wonderful things I've said about these books -- and the fact that I simply don't have the room to say about many others -- there is one series that has captured my heart. And I must say series, because the magic of it is in its intricately developed world, continually growing characters and absolutely engrossing story...
I Would Like To Show My Gratitude To... The House of Night!
The books that hold a special place in my heart are those in the House of Night series by P.C. & Kristen Cast. Normally when I talk about these books I am reviewing them. And when I do that, I talk to you as a fellow blogger, as a writer and as someone who dreams of being published. As someone who is suppose to be honest and fair, seeing both the good and the bad in what I am talking about.
Today, instead of placing these books under the microscope and analyzing them, I am going to be speaking purely as a reader enjoying her favorite series. If you don't like the House of Night series, the following may not be for you. Because today's post isn't about why anyone should or should not read these books. It's about why I read them.
How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways...
1. I love the magnificently crafted world that houses the story. What makes the world building in the House of Night series so special is that it seamlessly blends our own world with a world of magic and wonder. A world that all inhabitants are aware of to some degree. This blew me away when I started reading the series. It had never occurred to me that someone might build a world where everyone was aware that something other or different lived right next door.
2. The blending of fantasy and reality. This continues point #1. I love the fact that the Casts are unafraid to blend popular culture into their story alongside the deeply developed mythology they have created. These two very different things create a striking contrast that makes me feel this world is very real and it draws me further in. It makes me feel that I could be friends with these people (characters) if I lived there.
3. A gradual, slowly moving plot that is, at the same time, constantly engaging. There are some people who do not care for the 'few days a book' approach that this series takes, but for me that is one of its charms. I love the fact that the pace ebbs and flows. That we get to see the characters going through their "Oh My God!" situations at one point and then watch them attempt to move forward with life as normal at the same time. Their determination to do this makes me believe that they have something worth fighting for.
4. The huge cast of characters, who continue to grow and change as the story progresses. Sometimes, if looking at this series a book at a time, the cast can seem too large. But when I look at it on a series wide scale and consider each character from book 1 all the way to book 9, I cannot think of a major character / important minor character who has not made some form of major growth. I also can't think of a character where I can sit there and go "I don't care about that!".
5. The themes of mercy, betrayal, change, redemption, forgiveness and hope. There are so many characters who have taken incredible journeys of physical and / or emotional growth throughout the series. Some have faced great dangers. Others have faced themselves. Changes happen and consequences are real. I give this point to such fabulous characters as Stevie Rae, Rephaim, Kalona, Stark, Neferet and Aphrodite. Who would have thought, at any of their introductions, that they would be where they are now at the end of Destined? Certainly not me. Bravo.
Thank you for creating a vivid world that is so easy for me to be passionate about and believe in when I am reading.
Thank you for creating such a fascinating and diverse cast of characters.
Thank you for having the courage to allow those characters to change and grow in unique and exciting ways.
And since we're being completely and totally honest here, my absolute favorite thing about the series is this:
I could not find an image of Stevie Rae and Rephaim that I felt did them justice, so this will have to do. I realize that Zoey is the main character. And I don't hate Zoey. But she changes guys like most people change their socks. I don't always have the easiest time relating to her.
The story of Stevie Rae and Rephaim takes my breath away, though. They have both been through so much on their own, and then so much more to be together, that they have honestly become my main reason for reading the books. Which seems to be working out fine since the series POV design changed in Tempted where their story began to matter, so that they ended up getting POV parts in the books.
What makes their story so special and their love so compelling to me? It could be the fact that when I write, this is the kind of story I hope to tell. It could be the fact that each character possesses such a unique mix of strengths and weaknesses that she or he had to learn to balance for this to ever work. Or how about the fact that these characters have willingly made sacrifices for each other, time and again, to honor what they feel for one another.
...Thank you for creating one of -- if not my absolute favorite -- couple(s) of all time.
Why Am I Thankful For The House Of Night?
These are books that I have laughed over, cried over and clutched with such anxious intensity that I've left fingernail prints in the pages.
These are the books that inspired me to finally write my own story.
These are the books that initially got me interested in YA.
These are the books I am most likely to go back to, time and again, because by this point the characters feel like beloved friends and reading each new book is like sitting down for a cup of tea and being told about a long and perilous voyage that they embarked on since last we met.
I love the House of Night and I'm deeply grateful that these wonderful books are here to be enjoyed.
And apparently my post left the "It's too long!" train behind ten paragraphs ago. According to Jay:
If we put all of your articles on I Write, I Read, I Review together do you think they'd stretch around the world?
I love you too. :p
In all seriousness, he is likely correct about this being valid for the event Beth Revis is doing. But I don't mind. I think that getting to the heart of this issue -- expressing a deep love of a book or series -- is more important then prizes. (Would I like to win? Sure. But that's beside the point.)
If anyone has managed to stick with me through all of this, thank you. I had a lot to say. Please feel free to post in the comments and tell me about your favorite book or series, or link me to your post for this. Have a great day!