Quick Review: Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard

Fans of the Red Queen series should devour this short story collection. Even if they have already read the two previously released short stories, it is still worth the read. Broken Throne is gives more insight into the world building that author Victoria Aveyard did to create her series. Historical notes by Julian is the perfect way to go deep into how Norta, Montefort, Lakelands, Piedmont and neighboring countries came to be and gives perspective on where they are now. In between the history lessons are short stories, new and old, set in this world that focuses on supporting characters or backstory. The story that fans will probably be the most interested in reading is Fire Light. Fans who were left a little disappointed on how Mare left thing with Cal at the end of War Storm will get some closure in this story. Mare and Cal have been through a lot. They have both done things to others and to each other that they can’t take back. They both needed time to heal from everything that has happened and accessed who they are now and not who they were before they meant. Can they forgive each other? Can they forgive themselves? It was a sweet story that wraps up their story nicely. While I think this was a wrap of the series but I think there is a lot here for more book set in this universe. The Nortan states push towards a representative government is rocky and the epilogue mentions further drama that could easily be turned into a series. There are a few countries that were mentioned but we haven’t been that could be explored. Not to mention, as more and more Reds turn out to be New bloods, there could be so many more stories about them and how that plays out in the world. So what I’m saying, I don’t think we have seen the last of Norta or the Lakelands or Montefort or the last of Mare, Cal, Evageline, Iris, Farley and the other characters either. Whenever Victoria is ready to come back she should know I’ll be waiting.

A Pop Culture Assignment for Kate. Part 2

Fine. Kate has already read Cinder and Shatter Me. So I’m changing two of her books.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Written by Laini Taylor, who wrote the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Which we both love. Some characters more then others. *wiink* Strange the Dreamer is nothing like anything that I have read. It’s lush and complicated. It’s full of trauma and hope and really quite beautiful. I’m sure nothing about this will get me in trouble with Kate at all. First in a Duology.

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker. This one I know you haven’t read yet because I only read it this year but totally up your alley. A crew of female pirates out for revenge against those who murdered their family. It’s all about sisterhood and friendship and what makes a family but also our own destructive behavior. First book in what I believe is a trilogy.

A Pop Culture Assignment for Kate!

Last year I assigned Kate a summer of horror. It was a last minute change. I originally planned on assigning her four first books in a series. It turns out that at least one of those titles, she read with her carpool partner (Mom), Red Queen by the Victoria Aveyard so I’m pretty sure she this is a challenge she will like. I do have a good taste in books if I do say so something. So here we go. Kate’s pop culture homework assignment.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer A new twist on the classic fairy tale Cinderella. This time Cinderella is a cyborg living in New Beijing and there’s a threat of Luna. A kingdom on the moon. Strong female character that looks at Cinderella in a different way and did I mention Moon people. I think you’ll like it. The first book in a four book series.

Firebug by Lish McbrideThis was one of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time. It is beyond hysterical and full of life and magic. Ava is a firebug. She can light things on fire and unfortunately, her special powers has got her caught up with the Coterie, a magical mafia organization. She has to go on the run when she refuses a job. I can’t wait to hear what you think. First book in a duology.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow. This is a definitely different from the others. It was truly gripping. The world has fallen apart and is now ruled by an AI named Talos. To keep the world from going to war, they have taken an Medieval approach and demanding that every country give a hostage. If they decide to go to war, the hostage is killed. Morality tale and coming of age story. It’s a little trippy. First book in a duology.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. This one you are going to have to read because an audio book is not going to fully illustrate Juliette’s mental state. When we meet Juliette, she is imprisoned for being a danger to herself and others. A little dystopian story mixed in with supernatural powers. First book in a series of six.

A Pop Culture Homework Assignment for Beth!

Welcome to Beth’s Pop Culture Homework Assignment: WITCHES!

Witches seem to be having a cultural moment right now (which is great), so this felt timely. It also felt timely because Beth and I are going to a good friend’s wedding this summer in England, and then while we’re in Ol’ Blighty we’re going to visit Pendle Hill, the site of a 1612 witch trial. (Well, really, THE 1612 Witch trial.) We gotta go pay our respects. This year there are five picks…because when I floated the idea of one short non-fiction piece and one set of selections of a historical text, Beth didn’t say no! (She also didn’t say yes, so I am expecting to receive some flack for this.) So, here we go!

1. Selections from the Malleus Maleficarum by discredited member of the clergy Heinrich Kramer

The Malleus Maleficarum is maybe the best known treatise on witches. It was written in the 15th century and provides legal and theological reasons to execute witches. It laid the ground work for a lot of terrible things that happened to a lot of people. I thought it would be nice to provide some context before diving into the next selection.

2. The Familiars by Stacey Halls

This is a brand new novel (out in February!) that’s also a debut novel AND is written by a Lancashire local! It is set during the Pendle Hill trials! It’s like the universe wanted us to have this homework assignment!

3. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

It’s about witches! It’s about sisters! It’s about women’s relationships! It’s a classic! I honestly can’t believe this book is as old as it is, but I also often can’t believe I’m as old as I am, so here we are, surprised by inexorable march of time.

4. These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

So, this also came out this year, this past Tuesday, in fact. It was on my to-read list and as I was looking for a third novel, I got an email saying that this was coming out. You have to love that timing. It is about Hannah, a real witch who lives in Salem, Mass and who has to keep her real-deal magic a secret, because if she gets caught using it, she could lose it. I believe it also has an LGBTQIA relationship in it. I think it looks great and I really hope Beth loves it.

5. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

This clocks in at just over 100 pages and is a brief history of women healers. It discusses midwifery, witching, nursing and how traditionally feminine practices have been delegitimized and outlawed as a tactic of the patriarchy to control women. At least, that’s what I remember it being about? I read it while a family member was in the emergency room and we were waiting for test results, so my memories of the book aren’t maybe the best? So, I really look forward to hearing Beth’s thoughts on it and discussing it with her.

So, that’s it. There we go. I hope Beth enjoys these books! If you are reading along with Beth, leave a comment below or hit us up on twitter or the faceyb!

Pop Culture Homework Assignment 2019!

Since it is Memorial Day, it is officially summer! So, Beth and I will be assigning each other Pop Culture Homework Assignments this week! If you are new here, A Pop Culture Homework Assignment is summer reading that Beth and I assign each other. It is usually four books, themed, and designed for us to share something fun with each other (and you!). Also, I like to think it gets us out of our comfort zones, but that might just be justifying assigning Beth a bunch of non-fiction over the years.

So, Join us this summer on two themed 4-book challenges!

Reviews: Aru Shah and the End of Times by Roshani Chokshi and The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

I’m going to do a double review for these two books because they are both published under Rick Riordan Presents publishing tent and I read them back to back. Like Rick Riordan’s work, they both are children’s books that are based in Mythology. So why didn’t Rick write them? Well, I think he learned from his Kane Chronicles that you can do all the research you can on culture and mythology you are not a part of or familiar with it’s going to come out a bit messy. Not to say that the Kane Chronicles was a bad series. I think for many of his readers, it was their first introduction into Egyptian mythology so they were not aware of any errors but I could tell that Rick was comfortable and the flow of his writing wasn’t as crisp. So Rick decided he was going to use his platform and start his own imprint and publish Authors of color tell their own stories and mythologies. This is how you ally. Use your resources to uplift marginalize voices and give them a platform to speak.

Both Aru Shah and the End of Times and The Storm Runner follow the same formula that Rick uses in his Greek stories. Introduces the Demigod, send them on a world saving quest that requires them to complete smaller quests along the way to help them be successful, while interacting with other mythological characters or using the myths they grew up hearing to help them get out of trouble. Here I was taken through various Indian and Mayan myths and it was enjoyable. I do admit I enjoyed Aru Shah a lot better then The Storm Runner. Aru lives in Atlanta with her Mom and goes to a elite prep school. Aru is a liar. Well, she has a huge imagination. She often tells her fell kids at schools lies about her life to make her life seem more exciting and things start to go south when a few them catch her in her lies. Technically, Aru isn’t a demigod but the reincarnation of one of Indian mythologies greatest heroes. With the help of Mini, who is also a reincarnation of Aru’s brother hero, are able to save the day. What I liked about this book is that Aru is not the perfect girl. She’s a liar and definitely a troublemaker. She doesn’t have a lot of friends because she feels like an outsider and bullied. Both girls have had trouble making friends and opening up to each other isn’t easy but they do and it’s what allows them to succeed. I love who it really plays up their friendship and the importance of female friendships. Not to mention, Aru is a hoot. I laughed all the way through this book.

Maybe one of the reasons I liked Aru better is that I have some familiarity with Indian Mythology. I know nothing about Mayan. So I was going into this book fresh and learned quite a lot. Did you know the Mayan’s have a Goddess for Chocolate? That is awesome. The Storm Runner follows Zane who lives in New Mexico with his Mother and Uncle, next to a volcano. Who knew there were volcanoes in New Mexico? One night, a plane crashes into his volcano and then Zane meets Brooks, who he calls the most beautiful girl he has ever meant and boom we are off and running. Zane releases Ah-Puch, the God of the Death among of other things and well now he’s in trouble. Only he can kill him and do it before the other Mayan Gods find him and well kill him too because Gods are not supposed to have children because they see this as an imbalance in the world. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this book. I did but I found Zane to be frustrating. He really doesn’t listen to what people tell him. He is given good advice throughout the book and he either ignores it or doesn’t want to listen because “who are they to tell him what to do”. Things kinda go from bad to worst when he does this until the end when faced with his own death does he actually listen to what people are telling him and it turns out okay. There were moments in the book that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to finish. I’m glad I did because it turned out to be alright but it wasn’t easy to get through. Again this could be because I don’t know anything about Mayan mythology. With Rick’s Greek and Roman and even a little with Aru’s Indian, I knew enough Myths to figure out what was going ton and how they might be able escape. I didn’t have that here and maybe that made it harder. I also found Aru to be more likeable then Zane but I also identified more with Aru. I should mention that Zane has a disability. One of his legs is shorter then the other and he has to walk with a cane. It seems like his weakness but it turn out it s his strength. I think that is an important message for kids to read and allow them to be seen. I would recommend both books for anyone who loves Percy Jackson and are looking for stories outside Greek and Roman mythologies. They both are good in their own right and I look forward to reading the next books in both series..

Late to the Party: #AsianLitBingo

I did this last year and it was so fun that I wanted to do it again…and then life got in the way and I just realized that even though I’ve started reading I haven’t made any posts about it.

So, here’s this year’s Bingo Board. And this challenge is brought to you by Lit Celebrasian. If you haven’t visited their blog, you should. The team there hosts read alongs and twitter chats. They post regular features highlighting new releases by Asian authors.

Like last year, I can almost guarantee that I’ll be finishing my challenge well into the summer. Anyway, if you read this blog, you already know what I’m like.