Quick Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

my lady jane To say this book was delightful would be an understatement. Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows blends the perfect mixture of fantasy and fiction with history.  History will tell you that Lady Jane Grey was the Queen of England for nine days before Queen Mary took the throne and beheaded her.  Well, not in this book.  Lady Jane Grey was the cousin to King Edward, the son of King Henry VIII.  She was named the successor to King Edward because Mary was too Catholic and Elizabeth was a wild card.  Edward’s advisors were afraid that either one of his sisters would take England back to the Catholic church and away for the recently established Church in England.  Well, in this account the fight is over religion but over magic.  King Henry was an Edians, or a person who can turn into animals.  Before his rule, those who had this ability were hunted down and burned at the stack by the Verities or those who couldn’t change into animals.  Mary is very much in the Verities, who blamed Edians for the death of her mother.  Jane at first just a pawn in game of thrones but she soon turns the tables on those who try to control her.  This book is very funny, charming and just plain clever.  I often find myself laughing while riding on the train to the annoyance of my fellow riders.  And it’s a real hoot when you find out what animal Jane turns into.  You will not find a more clever book with horse puns anywhere.  So do yourself a favor and go read it.

Series You Should Check Out: Unearthly Series by Cynthia Hand

unearthly I can’t believe that I haven’t written about this series yet.  It’s one of my favorite series to go back and read. In particular, it’s my go-to series when I’ve finished one book but the book I want to read next is coming in a couple of days.  (Like for instance, I’ve finished My Lady Jane but A Court of Wings and Ruin, The Dark Prophecy and Always and Forever, Lara Jean comes out of Tuesday) I usually don’t want to start a new book that I might not finish before they come out so Unearthly or one if it’s sequels, Hallowed or Boundless because I’ve read them so many times, I can skip over parts or not feel bad if I don’t finish.  It’s a romance, it’s a comedy. It has some action!  and it has one of the most swoon worthy love interest of any teen novel.  Unearthly is about Clara, a half human half angel, who moves with her family to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to fulfill her purpose.  All Angelbloods, as they are known, are put on this earth to carry out some divine purpose.  For Clara it starts when she starts having visions about meeting a boy her age in the woods during a forest fire and wouldn’t you know that guy is super dreamy too.  Christian is the guy in high school that every girl has a crush on and every boy wants to be.  However, he’s the guy that makes me swoon.  That title guys to the other love interest.  Tucker Avery.  Tucker Avery is a cowboy.  He wears cowboy boots and hat.  He rides in rodeos and is very outdoorsy.  He would be the perfect boyfriend.  They relationship starts off in the stereotypical bickering back and forth before they realize how much they love each other.  Aww.

hallowed I would say the real theme of the series is fate and destiny and how much control do we have over our future.  Clara is not your normal teenager.  She has Angel blood in her and because of that is she expected to carry out her purpose. At first she is all about it. If it means getting to know Christian, the hot boy is school, she is all for it but what does divine really want from her.  Is she only supposed to save Christian from the forest fire?  Are they supposed to be a couple?  Is God trying to set her up on a date?  She discovers that finding out her purpose in life is not that easy and only gets more complicated when a.) she starts to fall in love with Tucker and b.) she finds out that she has more in common with Christian then she thought.  How much about her future does she get the decide and how much of it has already been planned for her.  She is impulsively drawn to Christian but is that because she is supposed to because of her purpose or does she really have feelings for him and him for her?  And if she is supposed to be with Christian then why does she fall in love with Tucker. (because he’s perfect! but I digress)

boundless All the while she’s trying to find out why she was put on this earth and fighting evil Angels, she still has to dodge of the landmines of attending high school.  Taking test, finding new friends and keeping them.  Going to Prom.  It’s not easy but an Angelblood in high school.  Clara is able to navigate all of these things thanks to other awesome character, Angela, another Angelblood.  Together help each other to figure out each other purposes and the other mysteries of being half angel.  Their friendship is one of those great but sadly rare in fiction, solid friendships between two girls.  They truly love and support each other throughout the everything.  Yes, they have their disagreements but when it matters, they are there for each other.  They push each other to be better.  Challenge each other to learn and know more about who they are and what they are supposed to.  There really should be more relationships like this featured in YA novels.  Too often female friendships get pushed aside once the heroine starts a relationship. But then again, Angela is not someone who would ever let a boy become between her and her best friend.  So yes, go read this series.  It’s the perfect weekend getaway book.  Just don’t let the cheesy covers scare you away.

 

May Flowers Bring New Books

The month of May has a lot of great new books coming out and of course I’m already behind in my to-read list. Sigh.  Anyway, here’s a list a few books that I’m definitely going to try to get to in May.  Let’s see how I’ll do.

May 2:

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

May 16:

Seeker by Veronica Rossi

May 23:

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

May 30:

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson

 

Rick Riordan Presents

dark prophecy Last year Rick Riordan announced that he was starting a new imprint to highlight diverse authors and diverse stories.  His mythology based stories have made him famous.  So far he has tackled Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythology but he often gets asked about exploring other culture’s mythologies as well.  Being a while male, he has wisely said that he was not the right person the write about Mayan or Indian mythology however it did spark him to start his own imprint so marginalized authors can write about their own cultures. It was just announced the first three titles under Rick’s new imprint.  Yoon Ha Lee, Roshani Chokshi and Jennifer Cervantes will author the first books.  Yoon Ha Lee’s book Dragon Pearl will take on stories from Korean Mythology.  Roshani Chokshi’s series, Aru Shah and the End of Time, is based off of Indian Mythology and Jennifer Cervantes’s book Storm Runner will have inspiration from Mayan Mythology.  All three sound interesting and will be published in 2018.  Adding all three to my to-read list.

EDIT:  Rick went to his Tumblr page to give more details on his Imprint, his role and involvement with the books and more information on the authors and more indepth synopsis of Dragon Pearl, Aru Shar and the End of Time, and Storm Runner. I highly recommend checking out if nothing else for a tiny glimpse into the publishing world.

Quick Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

strange the dreamer This book is surprisingly dark despite having a protagonist that is such a pure soul.  I shouldn’t have been surprised since Laini Taylor’s previous series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone wasn’t filled sunshine and rainbows either but the when the backstory of Weep is revealed and you see the toll it has on the city is palpable.  I’m not sure where to begin with this book.  I feel that anything I say will not do it justice and I also don’t want give anything away either.  Lazlo Strange is an orphan and a dreamer.  He was raised by Monks and then reared by Librarians.  He is fascinated by stories and in particularly the story of the lost city of Weep.  A city that had so many treasures but 200 years ago was lost to the world and forgotten. Even it’s name has been lost.  It’s now just a myth and a story to everyone but Lazlo.  It’s his dream to find it.  So he takes every opportunity to find out more about the city.  He scours the library books for any scrap of information about Weep.  One day out of nowhere, warriors from Weep lead by the Godslayer, show up in his town and he is appeals to them to take him with them.  They need help and even though he doesn’t know how he can help he knows he just has to go.  In Weep, Sarai is a Godspawn who lives in the Citadel above Weep without the City knowing.  Fifteen years ago, the Godslayer and the people of Weep killed the Gods and Goddesses that had enslaved them, not knowing that five children still lived.  Each of her siblings have special powers but only Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, can truly see the City.  Every night she releases her moths and visits the people of Weep’s dreams.  Sarai may have skin the color blue and see people’s dreams but she is still a teenage girl.  She is still has the same hopes and dreams as others her age but she also lives in fear of the people down below.  She knows what they did to the other Gods and Goddesses and what they did to the other children who were not saved.  She fears that if they ever found out about her and her siblings, that they too will kill them too.  Things really start to pick up when Lazlo, warriors and the other foreigners come to Weeo.  We see the true hurt and pain of both the people of Weep and the Godspawn.  They both are justified in their anger and hurt.  They both have reasons to fear the other.  When it comes to fear, rational thought is not always easy as any of us can attest too.  Lazlo is different though.  He is truly a dreamer. He helps people because he sees they need help. He sees possibilities is things that most of us would overlook.  He is Strange.  When Sarai first visits his dreams she is taken in at how vivid it is but also that he can see her.  She is not just a spectator or a manipulator, she is a participant in her dreams.  An invited guest.  They soon grow a connection and of course fall in love even though they had never actually met.  Despite the uplifting and positive protagonists that lead this story the darkness is always seething around the corner of every page.  You really can’t get around the sins of both the people of Weep and the Gods themselves and that’s the genius of the story.  The beauty of it.  It’s like an old Grimm’s fairy tale that underneath the glow and polish there is an undercurrent of darkness.  A modern day fairy tale where the true villains are already dead but there are no one is truly innocent.  Except for maybe Lazlo but even he will probably not stay innocent for long.

Quick Review: Legion by Julie Kagawa

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**I was granted a digital ARC of this book and read it a month ago.  Thank you Harlequin Teen for the advance**

Four books in and we finally learn what makes Ember so darn special and it’s creepy.  I won’t spoil it but let’s just say I look forward to seeing the leader of Talon being taken down.  She’s a real piece of work.  I also think she’s another argument as to why immortality or really Really long life spans are not a good idea.  It makes people do some really crazy insane things.  Anyways, fans of this series will be happy with this installment.  It picks up right where the cliffhanger ending of Soldier ended.  The stakes are higher now that the truth of the Order of St. George and Talon have been exposed.  The Order is complete disarray but Talon has a secret that we as readers know about but the characters don’t. So while, it was a good idea at the time to expose the leader of the Order, it also played right into Talon’s hands.  Talon has become the real big bad of the series.  The Order, while not at all innocent, has been played just as much as everyone else.  Their own prejudices and inability or willingness to try to think differently was their ultimate undoing.  As for our heroes.  They all do some growing up.  Constant near death experiences will do that to you.  The biggest lesson they have learned is if they are going to defeat Talon, they are going to have to work together and reach out to new allies, even if that means reaching out to old enemies too.  I believe there is only one more book left which is good because the ending really seems to have set up a potentially epic final battle between our heroes and Talon.  It’s been a fun ride.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Happy One Year Anniversary to The Raven King and Maggie Stiefvater!

April 2016 was our most successful month page views wise.  We had 589 views, which beat our previous record of 552 in December 2015. It made me wonder what were we writing about a year ago to get so much traffic.  Well, The Raven Cycle and Maggie Stiefvater.  It’s hard to believe that the The Raven King came out a year ago.  That it has been a year since we found out if Gansey, Blue, Ronan and Adam would find the sleeping Welsh King and If Blue and Gansey would kiss and if Gansey would die.  Those mysteries have been solved.  Thankfully, we know that we haven’t read the last of the Gang as Maggie is working on a trilogy about Ronan. Whee!!!

And we have another Maggie book coming in October.  So we have a lot to look forward to but let’s take a moment, in honor of the 1 year anniversary of the release of The Raven King and the end of the The Raven Cycle, to look at everything we have ever written about the series.

What I’m Listening to Now: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Public Service Announcement

What I’m Thankful for

Cover Reveal: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Books that Rocked My Face off, Part two

Let’s Do Some Reading: Goals for 2015

Cover Reveal: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Discussion Posts: Re-reading series before the new installment comes out

Books that Rocked My Face Off in 2015

What I Can’t Wait to Read in 2016

First Listen of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Countdown to The Raven King!

What I’m ReReading Now: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Observations on The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Observations on The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Observations on Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

My To-Read List for the next month or so

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 1

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 2

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 3

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 4

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 5

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 6

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 7

What I’m Reading Now: THE RAVEN KING BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER

What I’m Listening to: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Our Top 5 Posts of 2016

My Top 10 Books I read in 2016

Top Eight for 2016!

Th Raven Cycle as a TV Show Yes Please

It runs in the family 

Kate and I named our blog Stacks Exceed Life Expectancy because our to-read list so many books that we know we will never be able to read them all.  Literacy has always been important in our family.  It was our mother who taught us to never leave the house without a book.  She once came to visit me for a weekend and brought 8 books with her, you know so she had options.  I believe she read through half of them while she was here. I thing about our parents is that when ever they aren’t doing something, they are reading.  When they get up in the morning and before they go to bed.  They even bring a book with them to the bar.  So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that our house is filled with books.  They are literally everywhere.  When I was home last month to visit, I did a snapchat tour of my Mom’s books.  Her books monopolize our family room, with some in the kitchen and on the stairs.  Now these are not all of her books.  Only a taste. Maybe next time I go home, I’ll do a tour of our dad’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

the sun is also a star If you are not immediately charmed, heartbroken and uplifted after reading this then you should check your pulse. This is the perfect blend of romance, coming of age story and social commentary.  It centers around a day in the life of Natasha and Daniel, two teenagers on the cusp of major changes in their lives.  It also touches on the minor interactions that seem meaningless at the time but how that connection could and some times do change someone’s life.  Natasha and her family are illegal immigrants from Jamaica who are being deported at 10 o’clock that night.  She is trying to stop their deportation when she meets Daniel, a Korean-American boy who has the day off so he can prepare and meet for an interview for admission to Yale. From the moment they meet there is an immediate connection.  They both share the immigrant experience of being from two places at the same time.  Even, though Daniel was born in the US, he is often assumed to be from someplace else.  He’s never Korean enough or American enough.  Natasha was born in Jamaica but now has lived most of her life in the US.  Her friends are here, her future is here she doesn’t want to leave.  When they meet though, their futures couldn’t be different.  Daniel’s life has already been planned out for him while Natasha’s is now unsure.  Daniel’s parents are dead set on him and his brother to have a better life then they did, which means, Yale and becoming a doctor and marrying a Korean girl.  Natasha, was planning on going to college and was going to be a data scientist and now all of that is uncertain.  Anyway, they meet and while they don’t know anything about each other they know they have a special bond from the beginning.  Daniel is a poet and romantic.  He’s convinced that their meeting was fate.  That they are meant to be.  Natasha is a scientist and a realist.  She doesn’t believe in love is real or anything that can’t be scientifically proven.  As Natasha tries to kill time before she meets with an immigration lawyer Daniel convinces her to spend time with him to prove that love can be scientifically proven and so they go allover New York, getting to know each other and becoming first friends and then falling in love.  They meet each other’s parents and face each other demons.  While the story focuses on them, we get glimpses into the lives of the people around them.  From their own family but the random people that they briefly come in contact with.  The security guard that scans Natasha’s bag, the secretary of the lawyer.  They all paint a picture of how we all relate to each other and how our decisions big and small can change a complete strangers life.  It’s something to think about.  It was talks about how racism presents itself in other communities.  Daniel’s Korean parents own a black hair care store in Harlem but when his father and his brother meets Natasha they treat her in their shop.  They own a shop that caters to black shopper and yet they can’t even hide their own negative biases.  This was a beautiful novel that not only tells a perfect story of two kids struggling to figure out who they are while dealing with the forces outside of their control but also doesn’t shy from taking on tough issues of racism, immigration, depression and even family.  You need to read this book is all I’m saying.