Review: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Earlier this week I told Kate that I keep trying to Quit Cassandra Clare and her Shadowhunters but just can’t. This was after a discussion of authors continue stories of characters after the story had ended. She felt that Clary and Jace, Simon and Alec’s story ended up after the original trilogy. Not that I totally disagreed with her. I didn’t really like the second Mortal Instruments trilogy as much as the original but it did bring about some interesting characters that wouldn’t have existed if Clare had stop after the first three. I keep reading her Shadowhunters novels because Clare knows how to write characters. The secondary characters in The Dark Artifices are so well constructed it really brings to life the story. I have nothing against Julian and Emma but I was far more interested in Diana, a transgender shadowhunter who lived in fear of being found out. Despite her own fears she remained a well respected in the community. As cliche as it sounds, it took the Gwyn the fame leader of the Wild Hunt to see her as she is and without question to give her the strength to stop hiding. Ty a shadowhunter with autism. Shadowhunters have long shunned mundane medicine, so Autism isn’t something that they know or understand. Of course that can be said for us Mundanes as well. To Shadowhunters he seems strange and slow but he is actually quite brilliant. Change is not something that deals with easily so when his twin dies at the end of the last book and how he deals with it is so heartbreaking. And then there is Christina, Mark and Kieran. A Shadowhunter, a shadowhunter half fairy and a full fairy prince in a full blown three-mance. (is that a word? Well it is now because I not sure how to explain their relationship) Of course there is Magnus, the high Warlock of all our hearts still about. Helen and Aline a married shadowhunter couple coming back from exile and so many more. I know that Clare has been planning these books out years ago so she knew where the story was going to back in 2012 when she first introduced the Blackthorns. She couldn’t have known that her story of Shadowhunters using fear and bigotry to lead them towards fascism and tyranny would be so timely. Sadly. It only makes the wide variety of characters from different backgrounds, cultures, races, beliefs and lifestyles that more vibrant. The story would not have worked or would have not been as enjoyable without such a diverse and inclusive cast, just as our world is far better off with wide array of voices and viewpoints. No matter what people tell you. So while, I do agree that some of her characters stories have passed and it’s time to move on, I’m glad that she has continued the story to include so many more voices because it has definitely kept me interested.

Not a Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

This isn’t a review so much as a scream into the void. I am loving this book. It is so good. But, I’m bad at planning. So bad that even though I had three weeks to read it (I checked it out from the library) my audiobook expired three chapters from the end. I am so close to being done. I was in the middle of a very emotionally tense scene. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!

So, now I’m back in the queue waiting for a copy to be available…again… so I can hear the end of this book.

Can you die from not hearing the end of a book? Asking for a friend.

What I’m Reading Now: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

I decided to read this next because I just finished one Cassandra Clare series. Why not go ahead and finish another one? And 2. I planned on reading Holly Black’s The Wicked King next but it has not come in the mail yet. This seems like a good book to read in the meantime.

What I’m Listening to Now: Killing Dance by Laurell K. Hamilton

I had an ear infection in December, which made it so that all I wanted to do was lie in bed and stare at the ceiling and ponder how terrible my life is. Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake has been keeping me company during this terrible time. My ear is on the mend, finally, and I’m getting a chance to listen to book 6 of this series.

Reading Challenges

As you’re thinking about your goals for 2019, I thought I’d write a quick plug for our Reading Challenges. We have three: 

  1. Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Challenge- This is a 30 book challenge intended to challenge readers to try new subjects, new authors, new genres, and new publishers. It is divided into three sub-challenges, so you can zero in what you’re most interested in.
  2. Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks– This reading challenge is meant to focus on subject matter, allowing readers to use books as windows to the world
  3. Diverse Authors, Diverse Lives– This reading challenge is meant to focus on authors. The idea was to challenge ourselves to be thoughtful in whose words we’re reading and to think about how our choice of material affects the book industry. 

If you do one of our challenges, let us know! Hashtag in #StackXLifeX so we can find you! 



What We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019

Now that we have looked back on 2018, it’s time to look ahead to 2019.  We have a lot of fun things planned for next year.  New challenges read a-longs and podcasts!  But most of all we are excited for all the new books to read.  Expanding our already to long to-read lists even more. 2019 is already shaping up to be our best year ever!  So here are some of the books we are looking forward to the most reading next year.

Beth

  1.  King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – Leigh returns to the shores of Ravka to tell us of what happened to Nikolai after the events of Ruin and Rising.  We saw Nikolai make a cameo appearance in Crooked Kingdom so we know he still uses his Sturmhond alias even though he is now the King.  What other things will we learn about him? and what characters from the past series will show up?
  2. The Everlasting Rose by Dhoinelle Clayton – Camille is on the run from Queen Sophia who is beyond a psychopath.  She must find the Princess Charlotte, heal her and come up with a plan with her friends to save everyone.  Hopefully she has learned from past mistakes and be a little bit more observant.
  3. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi – I can only hope that sequel is as impressive as the first book because damn it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  I can’t wait to read what happens next for Zelie and Amari.
  4. The Wicked King by Holly Black – Holly is really at her best when she writes about Faries and that demonstrated with The Cruel Prince.  Now that Jude has tricked Cardan into becoming the King of Faerie, what is she going to do next?
  5. Untitled Sequel to Dread Nation by Justina Ireland – I’m not sure this is even coming out in 2019 but I really want it to.  I need to know what happens next for Jane and Katherine.  Do they make it California?  Who did Jane’s mom marry that gave her away?  So many questions that need answering.
  6.  Final book in the Diviners Series by Libba Bray – Another book that I’m not sure if will be published in 2019 but I’m putting it out into the universe so it will.  The final batle with the King of Crows is coming and only our heroes can stop him.  
  7. Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa – The sequel to the Shadow and the Fox is going to be epic.  Yumeko is still on her mission to keep the scroll safe but Tatsumi is now possessed by the demon from him sword.  Can Yumeko save Tatsumi and the scroll?
  8. Book 1 of the Dreamer Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater – yet another book that I’m not sure if is coming out in 2019 but I know she has book working on it.  Centered on Ronan from the Raven Cycle and how he has and hasn’t changed since the end of The Raven King.  It’ll be nice to get back to the barns and see what dreams Ronan dreams next. 
  9. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – Angie’s first book The Hate U Give destroyed me. It was so beautiful and heartbreaking. I expect nothing less for her second novel about an upcoming rapper trying to save her family.

 Kate

  1. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas– I’m also very excited about this one!
  2. Women Talking by Marian Toews– The blurb says the book is about Mennonite women who had thought that they were being visited by demons in the night to be punished for their sins but find out members of their community have been drugging and attacking them. This promises to be an intense story about women coming together to protect themselves and other women in their community.
  3. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James-The first in a trilogy by award winning author James, the blurb on amazon calls it an African Game of Thrones. I’m so here for this
  4. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett– Here’s what I know about this: it’s about an HIV-positive black teen. I also know that I enjoy Camryn Garrett’s twitter presence and it seems unlikely that I’m going to stop picking books this way in 2019.
  5. Internment by Samira Ahmed-In this near-future novel, Layla Amin and her parents find themselves in an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. This looks like its going to be another intense tale. Layla works, with the help of others, to obtain freedom.

What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Kate’s Top 5 of 2018

top 5 2018

Beth has already given her list, so it’s time for me to do mine. I probably finished enough books this year to justify a Top Ten but Beth made me a graphic and I want to use it! Also, some of my favorites overlap with Beth! I feel like I don’t usually get to books when they first come out, so its been a wild and crazy year!

 

  1. Dread Nation By Justina Ireland

 

 dread nation

I liked this book so much, I read it twice. Well, read it once and then listened to the audiobook (read by Bahni Turpin) with my Mom while we prepared for Christmas. In this alternative history, Jane McKeene, a black woman, is born two days before the dead walk at Gettysburg. I was interested in the politics presented in this book and also in the zombies. Oh, and the romance. There are some book boyfriends in this, oh my yes.

2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

children of blood and bone

It took me forever to finish this book, I parceled it out because I didn’t want it to end. The magic in this story was so interesting, I wanted to know more about each of the different types of magic. The world Adeyemi weaves in this novel is complex and lush and I’m so looking forward to the next book.

3.When Dimple Met Rishihi by Sandhya Menon

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This novel was just so sweet. I loved it so much. In it, Dimple is excited to go to a summer program that, if she wins, means she’ll get to meet her hero. She doesn’t know that her parents have agreed to let her go because they’re trying to arrange her marriage with the son of a family friend who just happens to also be in the same summer program. I loved both Dimple and Rishi. I loved Rishi’s brother. This is such a heartwarming romance.

Last Black Unicorn by Tiffani Haddish

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Tiffany Haddish herself reads the audiobook of Last Black Unicorn, which is a collection of autobiographical essays. It was funny, it was heartbreaking. I loved this and now I’m obsessed with Tiffani Haddish and seeing all of her movies.

Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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Ah, the vampire tale that launched the re-reading a bunch of other vampire tales for me. There was a lot to like in this book. I liked the relationships. I liked Tana’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend Aiden and her budding relationship with vampire Gabriel. I liked her relationship with her sister. I also enjoyed the vampire mythology. This is the second book on this list that I read twice this year. I really liked it.

 

Honorable Mentions

 

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider: I loved Fovea, the talking heads, and her budding friendship with a boy at school! This was such a fun middle grade read! But, I also know the author so it feels weird putting it in the top five.

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder.  You shouldn’t choose a book by its cover, but as soon as I saw the cover, I knew I needed to read this. Pinky Grover moved home (and dropped out of grad school. I always have time for books about grad students) to help her parents while her Mom was sick. She’s working on her parents Indian restaurant and lusting after Trucker Carrigan, member of a local biker gang who happens to eat a lot of Indian food. This book was so cute. It was just a fun, totally hot romance. This is the first thing I’ve read by Suleikha Snyder and I already started another book by her.

2. Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels. this was only a 3 star for me, but I loved Bellamy, she is such a kickass character. She was just so hardworking and thoughtful. I wanted her to succeed. So, this wasn’t the best thing I read this year, but I am looking forward to reading more about this character and by Alicia Michaels.

3. Head on by John Scalzi: This was on impulse pick that I grabbed walking through the library’s “No Holds! No Renewals! Get if if you can!” shelves. I love the author’s twitter presence, and this is the first book of his I’ve read. The premise was engaging, the world he’s built is interesting, and based on this I so need to read more set in this world.