Tag Archives: laurie faria stolarz

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Black is for Beginnings by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I was a little hestiant about this book… in mostly uncharted-territory (unless your Joss Whedon or Neil Gaiman, maybe) Laurie Faria Stolarz took her Blue is for Nightmares series (which I completely fell for last year) in a whole new direction in its last edition, Black is for Beginnings—and that direction was a graphic novel.

Now, I have to admit, anything remotely manga-styled has a tendency to put me off… this is a knee-jerk reaction due to far too many people assuming I like anime just because I’m half-Japanese (I don’t, by the way—at least not much outside of the Studio Ghibli range).  This book was offering me a little bit of extra story with characters I really enjoy, though, not to mention a few little loose ends tied up nicely, which would have made the last book overly long in reality.

Being a graphic novel, and not a very big book anyhow, this was a quick, easy read, though a good majority of it was summing up what had happened in the first four books—an understandable sidetrack, considering this book is in an entirely new medium, and likely to be picked up by a different audience.

As less-than-enthusiastic as I was about the exact type of art used here, it really was interesting to see an artists’ rendition of events I’d imagined in my mind—fairly clearly, considering what a visible, detail-oriented writer Stolarz is.  It also introduced me to the instant gratification that can come with graphic novels—I finished this in one sitting.  I don’t know that I’m 100% comfortable with this instant gratification… it brings to mind the generally floor-sitting, black-trenchcoat-clad types that I’ve had to crawl over in the past to get to the YA section of the bookstore (I haven’t had this problem lately… maybe bookstores have caught on and made YA more accessible?).  I always regarded these kids as miscreants of some sort, sitting in the bookstore reading manga from cover to cover rather than actually buying the books…

That said, I’ve been a little ADD with my books lately, as I mentioned a few weeks agoBlack is the first book I actually finished this year, and finishing a book is a peculiar kind of satisfaction that can’t be replaced with anything else.

Was the story particularly deep, or meaningful?  Was it as rich and enjoyable as the first four books in the series?  Not remotely.  But it did give me a little extra time with Stacey Brown, a character I’ve come to adore in her own right, and it was 100% true to itself, so I’m going to be gentle and give this a B-.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Red is for Remembrance by Laurie Faria Stolarz

A warning, first of all. Talking about this book at all is kind of a major spoiler for the end of Silver is for Secrets, so if you haven’t read that one yet, let me sum this review up by saying that this is a very satisfying fourth installment of the series.  But since that’s really not enough to go by, so I’ll try to be… less than 100% transparent here in my review.  We’ll see.

Stacey Brown is out of high school, and after an eventful (and ultimately tragic) summer break on the coast, she’s now starting her Freshman year at prestigious Beacon University, somehow scoring a full-ride scholarship despite having no extra curriculars and less-than-admirable grades.  Despite having the support of her mother, and being able to room with bestie Amber, though… Stacey just doesn’t feel like moving on with her life anymore.  A part of her is still on the beach in front of their summer house, watching the waves, and waiting for someone to come back to her, someone everyone else is sure is dead.

Stacey doesn’t have much of a choice about getting out of bed and getting moving, though, when the president of the university wants to meet with her personally, and get help with his daughter, who’s also having nightmares—or he’ll kick her out of the school.  It takes some time and a bit of friendly intervention—not to mention a freaky dream or two of her own—but Stacey finally decides to help the president’s daughter—Porsha, a girl who reminds Stacey strongly of herself.  As they decipher the clues their dreams are revealing, though, Stacey realizes more and more that there’s no such thing as coincidence, and maybe helping Porsha is going to help her out much more than she ever imagined.

Red switches back and forth from Stacey’s POV to the story of Shell, a guy with no memory who’s found himself in a questionable commune, and who may be the boy Porsha’s dreaming about.  It was fascinating to watch the pieces fall into place from the two different perspectives, and I’m impressed by how Stolarz has saved this series from going stale by mixing up the way she tells stories in each of her books.  I have to admit, though, as this is the last book in the series—well, sort of—I was sorry to be spending so much time away from Stacey herself.  I have come to be very much attached to this girl over four books, and she’s grown and matured a lot, and in a very natural way, which has been nice to watch.

I was also a little bummed to see less of the great friend interaction in this book than in previous books, but that was also natural. The characters are in college now, and not all in the same college, even, so surprise drop-ins from the lovesick, quirky PJ, and the on-again-off-again Drea and Chad were much enjoyed.

Stacey’s journey is continued in the graphic novel Black is for Beginnings, and I admit… I’m not a graphic novel person.  I just… have never been into comic-book style art, especially of the almost-anime type that this is.  But that said, I love the characters, and so I’ll (tentatively) follow them into that genre.

For now, though, Red is for Remembrance gets an A+.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Silver is for Secrets by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Stacey Brown has finally graduated and is looking forward to a nice, relaxing summer renting a beach house with her boyfriend and good friends, but that is all put off-kilter when she meets Clara, a somewhat ditzy, unfortunately boyfriend-snatching younger girl who Stacey senses strongly is in trouble.

Clara has secrets that could end up being deadly for her, and as little as Stacey and her friends like the girl, she can’t turn her back on her and let her die, either.  But at the same time Jacob, the one person Stacey should be able to trust more than anyone, is keeping secrets from her, too, and between that and Drea and Ambers hatred for Clara… well Stacey can’t help but feel a little on her own.  With the added stress of once again having someone else’s life in her hands, the secrets are a bit too much to have to handle.

Admittedly, this book makes the least sense plot-wise of the series so far.  The misdirection Stolarz implements so masterfully in Blue is for Nightmares and still-convincingly in White is for Magic is a little too willy-nilly and easy to see through here, and doesn’t end up leading anywhere at all in most cases.  I didn’t really mind, though, as book three brought back the scared-to-turn-the-light-off creepiness of the first book, even maybe turning it up a notch.

I’m also continually impressed by Stolarz’ portrayal of friendship.  Stacey, Amber and Drea are three very different girls, but they have the kind of friendship anybody could wish for, and a bit more believable and organic than something like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, for example.  Drea and Amber nitpick each other to death, but when someone else picks at them they back each other up like siblings.

Jacob and Stacey’s relationship grows really nicely in this novel, also, and it’s interesting to see these characters in a slightly more adult environment, and to see Stacey interacting with Chad (her ex, and Drea’s boyfriend) and to see how relationships grow and change.  Again, the friendships are my favorite thing in this series, and I’ll use the word organic one more time, because that’s how genuine they feel.  It’s really the highlight of the books, and why I’m so eager to move on to Red is for Remembrance (which my library is currently holding for me, yay!)

Silver does not by far end on a happy note, and there is quite the cliffie at the end, but if Red is about what I’m hoping it’s about… well I’m certainly interested in seeing how it plays out.

Silver is for Secrets gets an A from me.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: White is for Magic by Laurie Faria Stolarz

WHITE IS 419White is for Magic is the sequel to Blue is for Nightmares, and continues the story of high school student Stacey Brown, a Witch in a homeopathic sense of the word, who spent Blue having nightmares about her best friend being abducted and murdered, and has to figure out her dreams in order to save her.

White occurs the following year.  The one-year anniversary, as a matter of fact, and once again Stacey is having nightmares… but this year it’s her who’s in danger.

I admit, this wasn’t as horror-movie scary as Blue, but that was okay with me.  This novel let us dive a little deeper into the characters.  At  the end of Blue, Stacey ends up with the perfect, blue-eyed blond boy (also her best friend’s ex)—but in the second novel she starts to wonder if that’s what she really wants, especially when Jacob comes into the picture—Jacob, who’s also a Witch (it’s a faith thing, not a gender thing here) and has been having nightmares about Stacey.

Jacob becomes the one person who can truly understand what Stacey’s life has been like… but Stacey isn’t 100% sure if she can trust Jacob.  After all, he’s new to town, and knows way too much about her.

But without Jacob, she can’t make sense of what all her magic is seeming to warn her against, and trusting him with magic may lead, ultimately, to something much more than she’s bargained for.  Half of the time she can’t worry about semantics, though—she has to concentrate on saving her own life.

While it’s not quite as scary as Blue, again, this is filled out nicely with creeptastic dreams and multiple red-herring baddies.  The climax of this was more satisfying than in the first novel, also, and Stacey continues to be a smart narrator, with great friends—I have to admit I get a kick out of Amber, the whackier of her two roommates, who makes for a lot of the comedic relief in the series.

I give this a straight-out A.  I’m enjoying the series muchly, and I’ve already started Silver is for Secrets.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz

bluenightmaresThis is one of those books that I’ve picked up in the book store probably a dozen times, then set it back down without even reading the back cover.  I admit it.  Even after having seen it probably a dozen times, I still didn’t have the faintest idea what it was about.  Then one day I finally just sat down and started reading it.  Yes, right there in the store.  I was recovering from a half-hour long walk (after a 45 minute workout that morning) so I really needed to sit for a bit, and finally I let my curiousity for “that colored candle series” overtake me.

Within a few pages, I was hooked.  I could tell right away that this narrator (first person, btw) was a cut above the average.  Firstly, I could almost hear  her voice in my head from page one.  I knew fairy quickly that I liked her, and that she was a fairly smart cookie.

And, oh yeah, it was scary.

I mean… spine-tingler suspense movie scary.  I don’t remember the last time I was this creeped out by a book.  There were nights when I’d finish a chapter, then have to read something safe (I mean, really safe, like Anne of Green Gables safe) just to uncreepify myself enough to turn the light off and go to sleep.

The main character, Stacey, is a witch who gets premonition-like dreams.  But she’s not an eye-of-newt kind of witch, or even the type you’d see on say, Supernatural, with hex bags and whatnot.  Stacey’s spells are all fairly homeopathic, including things like incense, olive oil and herbs.  So while hard-core Wiccan stuff freaks me out a bit, this was… okay.  This was something just about tangible stuff.  She knows her dreams—of someone trying to kill her best friend and roommie Drea—are possibly leading up to an actual event, since she’s had the unfortunate experience of dreaming murderly dreams before, but all she has to go on are her somewhat incoherent dreams.  Dreams, and the creepy messages and packages that keep appearing from the would-be killer.  All she has to help her figure all this out is her magic, and a little bit of guidance from her [dead] grandmother, who also had the gift.

Stacey’s dreams are really horror-story nightmare stuff, and I was flipping pages in this book faster than my norm by far.  The only disappointment I had in this book (no spoilers, I promise) is that the big confrontation scene at the end isn’t half as scary as the dreams leading up to it.  Possibly this is a good thing—and I guess it really does make sense now that I look back, because reality is rarely as bad as the things we can imagine, and the doubt of the unknown, but it seemed a little anti-climactic in the novel.

Still, I’m happily reading the sequel as we speak, and am already looking forward to finishing off the series with Stacey and her friends.  Very nice characters mixed in with the drama and scary stuff!

My rating overall: A very strong A-

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