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.

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.

Quick Review: The Storyteller by Traci Chee

Where to begin? The Reader trilogy is so well done. It really took you on a journey. From Sefia being just a girl on the run to a powerful sorcerer. Archer being a scared killer to a leader. They all have come a long way. The central theme is do we control our own fate or is it already determined. I won’t say how what the answer is because it’s a huge spoiler but maybe the biggest take away is whatever your fate is it’s irrelevant. It’s what you do and the impact you have on people that is more important. You touch so many people that you don’t know and probably will never know the impact. It was a harsh lesson for Sefia and Archer as they struggle with their own self doubt and the knowledge of what they had to do to accomplish what has to be done. Captain Reed has traveled the seas to ensure that his legacy will live on and so then would live on. Tanin who is willing to destroy the world to figure out why her two best friends would leave her and all they fought for behind. It was amazing series and I know this write up doesn’t do it justice but I don’t want give to much away. Go read it. It will be an unforgettable experience.

My Top 10 Books of 2018

It’s that time of year where we take a look back at everything we have read this year and come up with our best of the year.  It’s a tough job but not one we take lightly.  It’s been a very diverse year for me.

1.Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi –This fantasy was like nothing I’ve ever read.  A little bit of magic, a little bit of adventure and a little bit social commentary.  It took me on a wild ride as Zelie discovers her own powers and does what she can to help her people from the evil King who has done all he can to erase her people.  It was a breathtaking first book.

2. A Cruel Prince by Holly Black-Holly Black is at her best when she is writing about fairies.  It really is her element.  The lush world that Black has created is so rich and vibrant that I almost wanted to go if it wasn’t filled with blood thirsty fairies.  Looking for a fantasy full of royal intrigue this one is also for you.

3. Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab –Technically I read the first book last year but I finished the trilogy so I’m counting them all as one.  It was one wild fantasy series.  From truly vile villains, pirates, royalty magic and supernatural forces it really did have everything but never felt too much.

4. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland- This one I think I liked for the very beginning. Jane was born a slave but when the dead of Civil War come back to life, Jane is sent to a boarding school that teaches her and other girls of color how to fight zombies so they may one day work in a nice home as protection.  Jane is resourceful, smart and funny.  She knows how to kill a zombie. 

5. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer –Carrie was truly one of a kind and is sorely missed.  Her diary that she wrote while filming the first Star Wars was honest, raw and funny.  Really what you would expect from Carrie Fischer.

6. Shadow and the Fox by Julie Kagawa- Add a little fox, a trained warroir with a demon infused sword and Japanese mythology and you get one fun book.  I really enjoyed the story building and characters as they try to steal save the scroll that will summon the dragon that will grant wishes was great.

7. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake- The third book in the series was definitely a keeper.  I mean they all were but it was still great.  We finally get to see more of the world outside of Fennbirn Island and how the Queens became to be.  The mythology is really coming together and it’s going to lead to an epic finale.

8. Wildcard by Marie Lu – Emika is so cool. As she unravels the mysteries and tries to save not just Hideko from himself but everyone else from an even bigger conspiracy.  It was a fun novel and reminder that not everyone on the internet is your friend.

9..Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir- Elias, Laia and Helene are on opposite sides of the fight against the Nightbringer and keeping the balance. It’s a thrilling race against time to bring down the Nightbringer and the Empire and Elias Mom, who is just frightening.

10. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson- I’m still waiting for the last book in her Shades of London series but this filled the void. Who doesn’t love a good boarding school mystery?  Stevie decides she wants to go to this exclusive boarding school because she wants to be the one to solve it’s biggest mystery of who kidnapped and killed the daughter and wife of the school’s founder.  Twice and turns abound in this one. 

Everything Must Come to an End

As we take a look back at 2018 we started some really great series but we also sadly had to say goodbye to others.  It’s always a bittersweet reading the final book.  On the one hand you finally get to know how it ends but on the other hand sometimes you are not ready to let go quite yet.  So let’s raise a glass to the books that have entertained us over the last couple of years and who knows, maybe our favorite authors will one day return to your fave characters.

  1. Falling Kingdom Series by Morgan Rhodes  – This epic “Game of Thrones” YA series finally came to a close after it’s 6 books.  Alliances were built and destroyed, Gods sent packing and love conquers all.  It was quite a ride.
  2. Front Lines Series (Soldier Girls) by Michael Grant – Rio, Frangie, and Rainey fight until the end of the World War Two.  After three books of following our girls through battle, we finally see them through the end and what they did with their lives afterward.
  3. Carve the Mark Duology by Veronica Roth – Some of the story building was problematic but it was an original idea that was was engrossing.  I do feel that there is enough story left over that Veronica could return this world, she could.
  4. Charlotte Holmes Trilogy by Brittany Cavallaro – There have been many different takes on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.  This time around the Holmes and Watson families have a long history as does the Holmes family and the Moriarty family and a century worth of feuds come to end with Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson in the center. Truly an enjoyable series for any Holmes or mystery fans.
  5. Talon Series by Julie Kagawa – Ember, Riley,Garrett and the soldiers of St. George have no choice to team up if they are going to save the world from Talon  After 5 books it’s been a wild ride
  6. Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard – This may have been one of my favorite YA series since The Hunger Games ended.  It had a little bit of everything.  Super Powers, class warfare, racism and  political philosophy.  I’m sad that it’s over because it was pretty great but I do look forward to what Victoria does next.
  7. Warcross Series by Marie Lu – Virtual reality game is about to take dow the world unless Emika can stop it.  Really it’s not that farfetched and that’s part of it’s brilliance.  Emika is one of the coolest YA heroine.
  8. The Tiger’s Saga by Colleen Houck – This one was kind of disappointment.  This maybe an example of knowing when to stop.  Even though it was always planned on being a quintet, the fourth book was released almost 4 years ago and the story had pretty much been wrapped up.  Tiger’s Dream while a wrap up of Kishan’s arc but was a really long rehash of the last four books.   It didn’t add anything to the story and sort of made me upset with Kishan. 
  9. Strange the Dreamer Duology by Laini Taylor – These two books were beautiful and heartbreaking.  Everyone is living with some sort of a trauma and doing what they can to survive.  We finally see the true depths of what the people of Weep had to live through and it’s horrifying.  You really can’t blame any of them for their anger but despite all the hurt there is a real hopefulness to it.
  10. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas – Seven books and several twists and turns later we finally see how Aelin’s story ends and it’s epic.  There have been so many stories and characters it was almost hard to believe that Sarah was able to tie it all together in a satisfying ending.  It was heartbreaking and hopeful and one wild ride. 

Quick Review: Arch-Enemies by Marissa Meyer

What is the definition of a villain?  The Renegades and the Anarchists would say the other is a villain.  The Anarchists wanted to fight for prodigies rights.  They were no longer willing to live in fear and hiding but there methods of violence did sit well with others.  The Renegades used their powers to defeat them and now run Gatlon City.  Both the Renegades and the Anarchists wanted to change the world but had different ideas on how to do it.  Does that make either one of them villains?  This is really the question in the center of the series.  Nova was raised to hate the Renegades.  She sees them as dangerous and not what they appear to be.  She blames them for the death of her family and for the destruction of her uncle.  Meanwhile Adrian was raised by the Renegades and sees what they do as trying to make the world the better place but sometimes frustrated with all the rules.  Things get even more confused when the Renegades reveal their new weapon against Prodigies who break the rules.  Agent N, that take away their powers.  Soon all patrols are being trained on how to use it basically making Renegades judge, jury and executioner.  This is troubling to both Nova and Adrian but for different reasons.  Nova believes this a gross misuse of power and to easy for it to be abuse.  Who is to stop a rogue Renegade from using Agent N on someone they don’t like?  But Nova also starts to see that not all Renegades are bad people and truly believe what they are doing is for the good.  Which makes her question everything that she was taught.  She keeps having to remind herself that she is an Anarchist and that she has a mission to save her Uncle Ace Anarchy.  To complicate things even more to complete her task she must get closer to Adrian, who she may or may not have feelings for.  You know it wouldn’t be a YA novel without some kind of complicated romance.  It’s a fun series as the characters are enjoyable to read and constantly questioning your own loyalties.  Are you with the Renegades or the Anarchists?

Review: Kingdom of Ashes by Sarah J Maas

What a way to end a series.  It was seven books in the making and finally know how it all came together.  Aelin and her friends have been on a quite a journey.  From the beginning when Aelin was just an assassin and Dorian was a spoiled Prince.  It was expanded so far beyond that now. To other continents and other worlds.  What I liked about this was that every character had a role to play in the ending and that is quite a feat as there are a lot of characters.  I mean we are talking about Game of Thrones level of characters.  They are all flawed people but have one goal to defeat Erawan and Maeve and create a better world.  It wasn’t easy and there were many twists and turns along the way.  It started off slow as the characters were spread far and wide.  It also took me awhile to reacquaint myself with some of the characters as for most of them it’s been two years since the last time we have seen them but once they started to come together that it really started to pick up and get going.  So many story arcs to wrap up and most of them were.  I think a few left open a bit that we could go back and revisit Erilea.  Let’s get back to Aelin as she is really the heroine here.  Of all the characters she has been through the most.  She started out as a assassin and ended up a Queen.  She has endured enough trauma for several lifetimes and would have been forgiven if she gave up and she had plenty of chances to do just that but she doesn’t.  She gave everything she had for her country and her friends.  She used her intelligence and skills to outwit and defeat her enemies as much as she used her power.  I’ll miss reading about her because she was fun, smart and spunky. If you haven’t read this series you should and lucky you, you can now read it in it’s entirety without wearing years between books.