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.
For a Matriarchal society, Fennbirn is kinda a violent place. For example, how they pick the Queen that will rule them is a bloodbath. Three Queens, triplets, who all a special power shall we say, Katharine is a poisoner, Mirabella an elemental and Arsinoe is a naturalist. When they turn 16 one of them will ascend to the thrown by using their powers to kill the other two. They are raised together until the age of six and then separated to be fostered by families who share their powers. The families teach them all it takes to master their powers so when the yearly festival of Beltane comes in the year of their 16th Birthday, they will be ready to impress their people, their suitors and imitate their sisters. It’s the first time they are to see each other in years and probably the last time they will see each other until one comes to kill the other. It’s blood thirsty but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Three Dark Crowns is only the first book in the series so it spends a lot of time introducing us to our Queens and the world they live in. Katharine (so nice to have it spelled correctly) is a poisoner that has trouble building her immunity to the many poisons her family feeds her. Arsinoe is a naturalist who can’t even make a flower bloom. Only Mirabella powers is strong. She can make fire, bring down a storm with wind and lightning and control water. The Temple and it’s Priestess have put all their power behind Mirabella to gain control over the island from the Arron family who run the Black council. The Council rules while the Queens come of age. I said that it’s a Matriarchal society as the head of the household are women. Men come second. Whatever sister wins, they will marry one of the suitors from the Mainland but will only ever be the King-consort. A ceremony title and nothing else. His only job is, when the time is right, knock up the Queen so the next set of Triplets can be born. I guess not a bad gig if you can get it. The part is, this book is filled with female characters. It passes the Bechdel test and themselves. Not to say there isn’t male characters but they take up the roles usually for the girls. They are the love interest and the supporting friend or teacher. Nice little swap there. Anyway, Mirabella is the strongest of the three and assumed to easily win the crown but of the three of them she is also the kind-hearted. She remembers her sisters and how that once upon a time they loved each other. She doesn’t think she can kill them. Katharine on the other hand, so wants to prove that he is as strong as the poisoner queens that have come before her. The last few Queens have been poisoners and the Arrons are hell bent on keeping their power. Arsinoe is a little bit of a wild child. She knows that she is weak and hears what people say about her. Her best friend is also the most powerful naturalist in hundreds of years. Only making Arsinoe look even weaker. After their 16th birthday, the sisters do everything they can to prepare for Beltane and find ways to make themselves stronger to give them a chance to survive but threats to their lives might come from outside of their sisters. The Spiritual leaders of Fennbirn have lost influence of the years thanks to the Arrons stronghold on the Black Council. When they heard that Mirabella was as strong as they were the Head Priestess took over her training and are using her to regain power. When it becomes clear that Mirabella is not going to be able to kill her sisters to gain power, they hatch a their own scheme to win their throne. For fans of Game of Thrones or Falling Kingdoms this is one’s for you. While there are not as many deaths, yet, there are political intrigued, many characters and storylines to follow. There’s a twist ending but it’s pretty easy to see it coming. I’ll give you a clue, just look at their names. Which ones don’t really match up with their powers? All and all it was pretty good and I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Let’s be honest. Sherlock Holmes is a dick. I haven’t read any of the books but every character based on the novels, whether it’s Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr. or Hugh Laurie they are all Grade A assholes. Charlotte Holmes is no different. And you know what, it’s kind of wonderful. Now don’t get me wrong. Charlotte may be a genius but she’s not a role model either. Too often, female characters in book, movie and TV shows have to be likable and often one dimensional. This includes when they are the main character. Male protagonists don’t have this problem. They can be a dick and still be the hero. Charlotte is cold and calculated. She doesn’t adhere to social norms and doesn’t try to fit in. She is also a recovering drug addict teenage girl that is less then a year removed from being sexually assaulted. In other words, she complicated and complex as her great great great great literary grandfather and that’s just fine. Like Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte is humanized by her Watson. Jamie keeps her from completely losing her humanity but he’s also her weakness as she is his. Jamie frequently asks why he continues to stay friends and be in love with Charlotte when she often ignores him, insults him and is constantly puts himself in danger but every time he has a chance to leave he can’t. Instead, he puts himself in the line of fire to try to protect each other. In their own way Jamie and Charlotte try to protect each other only to hurt each other even more. It’s complicated and complex. They are a powder keg ready to blow. Charlotte still dealing with the trauma of her rape and Jamie is respectful of that but he can’t deny his own feelings and wants. There is this thread of tension because you know they both want more from each other but unable to give it. There is always frustration and relief but also realism in it. One does not just get over something like that and one does not turn off ones feelings each other. Both Charlotte and Jamie are allowed to show all their faults. They are allowed to be unlikable. They complicated and complex and it’s wonderful.
I have had many reactions to this trilogy so far. I’ll admit it’s not an easy read as there are a lot of hard truths here. The question I keep asking myself is how can I be shocked when I know what’s going to happen? I know my history. I know this was not one of America’s proudest moments in our history. I studied in school about the protests and violent reaction to them. I’ve read about Emmit Till, Medger Evers and Freedom Rides. So why am I’m still shocked to read how violent they were? How am I still shocked to read how angry, hurtful and full of hate people can be? It’s not like they were asking for huge things. They wanted to eat at the counters of stores they just bought merchandise in. They wanted to go to the movies. They wanted to ride the bus. They wanted to vote. How are any of these extraordinary requests? How am I still shocked by these when the news lately are full of people saying angry, hurtful and full of hate? Why do I feel like we are repeating history?
Ms. Marvel is every fan girl or boy who has ever wrote or read fan-fiction or squeed over their favorite celebrity. She is everyone who has every suffered from self doubt but still fought through it. She is everyone who still sees the good even though she has seen some pretty awful things. Ms. Marvel is a hero. I love her. She is beyond funny. She is smart. She is brave. She is relatable. She is everything you want in in a hero. Why isn’t she in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet?
Since vol. 1, Ms. Marvel has defeated the Inventor. Fought along side Wolverine and Captain Marvel and took down Loki. She’s making a name for herself. She discovered that she is an Inhuman, which I’m not sure what that is. I think it has to do with the Kree, who we met in the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think. I guess somewhere in her families past, they got some Kree blood in their bloodline and when the terrigan gas released that part of her DNA to give her superpowers. This makes them different from Mutants and the X-Men because their powers are just natural part of human evolution. Yeah, that sounds right. Like the X-Men, there are good Inhumans and bad Inhumans and for Ms. Marvel, they may be the most dangerous foes of all. In Crushed, Kamala meets Kamran, the son of an old family friend. He’s perfect. He likes World of Warcraft, he’s Muslim and he is also Inhuman. He kidnaps Kamala to get her to join in him in and off short of Inhumans who feel that their abilities make them superior to other humans and they should rule. When she turns him down and escapes, he then goes after her brother and tries to turn him. He’s not a good guy but do you know who is a good guy? Bruno..Kamala’s best friend and really the closest thing she has to a sidekick. He’s always there when she needs him, no questions ask. I’m totally shipping Kamala and Bruno but I agree with Kamala decision that with everything that is going on. Her powers, her family, high school that she needs to focus on her. She’s only 16. Romance can wait. Now Last Days sort of ended on a hopeful but also the world is ending kinda note, that I need to read the next volume ASAP! Ms. Marvel is truly the best!
I admit that I have had this book sitting on my Nook for awhile now. It was one of those it’s on sale impulse buys. I read Anna Carey’s her Eve series. It was great until the last book. I was really frustrated with how Eve spends the entire series running away from getting pregnant to only get pregnant anyway. So I bought this book but held off reading it and really only decided to read it because it’s not that long. Only about 186 pages on the Nook. It’s completely different from Eve. Instead of of being another dystopian novel, it’s a contemporary novel. Our heroine wakes on a LA subway track with no memory of who she is or how she got there. All she has on her is a bookbag, money, a fresh shirt and a notebook that instructs her to stay away from the police and call this number. She does and arrives at the appointed office to find that it’s empty and the safe is open with money missing. She’s been set up and forced to be on the run. She quickly realizes that she’s being followed and some of them want to kill her. She turns for help to Ben. A boy she caught selling pot on her first day. The two set out to try to figure out who she is and what is going on. Why are people trying to kill her? Who is orchestrating it? Who is she? Is there anyone one looking for her?
The intriguing thing about this book is that it’s written in the second person. I’m not sure I’ve read a book written in that voice before. In short stories yes but not a novel. It lends it well to the narrative. It really adds to the uncertainty and paranoia of our character. However it took a while for me to get used to it. “Sunny” as she calls herself since she doesn’t remember her name is resourceful. She has small snippets of her past but she doesn’t know if they are real or not or how they relate to what is going on with her. She finds that she knows how to do things that suggest that maybe she wasn’t all that innocent as she would like. She knows how to pick locks and how to evade people who are following her. She also knows how to fight. This makes her a little uneasy about herself. I like her, she’s quick on her feet and smart. She comes to the same conclusion of what is going on the same time I did but her story isn’t over yet. We have one book to go to find out more about the people who are hunting her and if she finally be able to out run them or take them down.
I’m not sure if Julie Kagawa counts towards our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives challenge since I would have read her books anyway. This is the last book in the The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten series. I knew I was going to read it as soon as I finished the last book, The Iron Traitor and I’m going to read Soldier, the next book in her Talon series. So counting her as my Asian American author doesn’t really go in the spirit of the challenge since we are trying read new authors, However, I think it’s good to point out the diversity that is already in my reading list. Yes, this is a little self serving, pat myself on the back type of thing but while I do mostly read white women, I’ve never been exclusively been just that and honestly until this past year I’m not sure I’ve noticed. I’ve been reading Julie’s work for a couple of years now and it make me think. I’m not sure where I’m going with this but you should read her work is all.
So The Iron Warrior is the last book in the The Iron Fey series’. The first series followed Meghan as she transitions from normal teenage girl to Fairy Queen of the Iron Fey. In Fairy mythology, iron has always been one their weaknesses and the human world has become more and more technologically advance the Nevernever has started to get poisoned, except for some of the Fairy who have adapted and created a new kingdom of Iron. Call of the Forgotten is the continuation of the series but follows Meghan’s brother, Ethan and son , Kerrian. Now, it’s been about a decade since Meghan has left and in that time Ethan has grown cursed with the sight and is constantly harassed by the Fey. Then one day he finds himself back in the Nevernever with a new girl, Kenzie and his nephew, Kerrian, who is roughly the same age thanks to the fact that time moves differently in Faery. Yeah, it’s weird. It’s even weirder since Ethan didn’t even know that Kerrian even existed. You see, their was a prophecy that one day Kerrian would kill Ethan and either destroy the courts or unite them. So obviously everyone wants to keep them apart. It didn’t work because the prophecy is set in motion when Kerrian does in fact stabbed Ethan and temporarily lifting the veil between faery and the human realms. Now Kerrian is the champion for the Forgotten Queen who looks to lift the veil permanently and only Ethan can stop him.
Ethan is the type of hero I like. He’s sarcastic and I do love sarcasm. He’s also a fighter. Not always the swiftest on the up take but he’s loyal. He knows the stacks are high and despite being given outs several times throughout the book he never backs down. Kerrian I’m not really digging. He’s quite stubborn to the point of destroying the Nevernever. Everything starts with Kerrian unwillingness to let go of his love. Since the story is from Ethan’s point of view, we don’t get to know the inner working of Kerrian’s mind and because of that I found him a little unsympathetic. We all have people we love that we don’t want to lose but losing your soul for them. Killing your uncle and friend. No one would want that. If he was able to keep his emotion’s in check all of this could have been avoided but then again we wouldn’t have a story. Kenzie is my favorite. She’s a normal human. She’s not fairy or half fairy or related to. She just happened to be with Ethan when he goes back and because she is curious and looks for adventure sticks around. She is also sick so wants to live life to fullest. That being said she is the smartest of them all. She adapts quickly to the Nevernever. She may not be a fighter but it’s often her quick thinking that saves them . I would love a book just about her.
All and all this was a great series with a satisfying ending. It’s not the usual fairy story and full of action and adventure. If you like fairy books or fantasy, you can’t go wrong with the Iron Fey.