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.

 

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

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.

Review: Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

places Waverly is perfect except so can’t sleep so she spends her nights running.  Marshall is loser burn out, who spends his nights drinking and smoking pot.  They have nothing in common and since they don’t run in the same social circles they have no reason to interact, until Waverly decides to try an experiment to help her sleep and ends up in Marshall’s room.  I’m wrong they do have one thing in common.  They both have terrible coping habits.  Waverly has created this kind of ice princess persona. She is the perfect student, the perfect social butterfly, the perfect daughter and the perfect citizen.  Since junior high, she has planned her and her best friend’s ascent up the social hierarchy.  Now that she is there, she is trapped in this persona she has created and doesn’t know what to do with herself.  Her own fears of people seeing through her carefully crafted facade keeps her up all night.  She runs, she does homework, she watches horror movies late at night.  Marshall is the opposite, he’s almost too open.  He cares too much.  His home life is a mess.  He’s parents were going to get divorce but then his dad gets sick so they decide to stay together even though it makes them unhappy and everyone else unhappy.  To deal with it he does everything to know the pain.  He drinks until he gets sick.  He smokes until his stoned. He makes out with a girl that he knows he doesn’t like but that she likes him.  He rarely goes to class because what’s the point? He’s not going to college. Things start to change when Waverly magically appears in Marshall’s room.  It’s weird and uncomfortable and awkward as neither of them know what’s going on and Marshall is the only one who can see her.  To Waverly it’ a dream that helps her sleep but when she wakes up their remnants of the dream remain.  She has leaves on her feet from walking outside or a gigantic hickey from last night’s make out session.  At night they can be open and honest with each other but in the bright of day they can barely acknowledge each other existence.   Marshall wouldn’t fit in Waverly’s world.  However, they are just want each other needs.  Waverly shows Marshall that he matters, that he could be so much more then what he is right now.  And Marshall shows Waverly that she doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.  I was really drawn into these characters and I wanted them to find a way to each other.  It was satisfying when they both stood finally stood up for themselves to their various bullies.  For them to both realize what was truly making them feel unhappy and finally doing something about it.  At times I found myself identifying with both Waverly and Marshall.  There are times in my life that I felt I had a certain ways to fit in with my friends, especially in high school.  You say and do things that you know the other person wants to hear and do because it’s just easier to go along. I also know the feeling of just trying to numb the pain instead of dealing with it.  I like to think that I have good coping mechanisms but not always.  This book is just a reminder that sometimes the biggest obstacles to being happy is ourselves.  Literature is great like that. It’s entertaining and full of life lessons.

What I’m Reading Now: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

the sun is also a star

I bought this book as part of our Diverse Narrators Reading Challenge.  Reading the synopsis and some of the reviews, I think this book is going to be relevant to what’s going on in our country.  I’m really excited about jumping in.

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

carve the mark 2 So let’s talk the controversy.  I was excited about reading this book because I thought it sounded interesting and was curious how Veronica Roth would follow up her Divergent series.  That was until reviews started to come in and people began talking about the racism surrounding the plot.  Now, I don’t necessarily think it is intentionally racist but it is definitely problematic.  So the plot revolves around two different races of people who share the same planet.  The fair-skinned, peaceful Thuve people and the dark-skinned warrior race Shotet.  Right there raised flags for me.  That the more violent people are described as being dark in skin, eyes and curly hair versus the more light skinned, blue eyed, straight hair peaceful neighbors.  Everything about the Shotet’s is described violently from their language to their tradition of marking their arms with every kill.  It brings up images in our society about we are programmed to think that those with darker skinned are more dangerous then those of us who have lighter skin tones.  That the lighter skinned people are somehow inherently just better people.  And that is why at first I felt a little uncomfortable reading it.  However, it didn’t turn me off either.  As the story continued, I became more invested in the characters Akos and Cyra.  I don’t think ever really got past the uncomfortableness of it but I did want Cyra to best her abusive brother and Akos to rescue his.  They compliment each other really well.  Cyra has a gift for pain. Pain that she inflicts on others but also lives in her while Akos gift is that he nullifies the current.  In this world, everyone has a gift granted by the current.  Each gift is different depending on the person.  Cyra brother is the ruler of the Shotet people and has been using her as his own personal torturer.  She has gained the reputation of being cruel when she is only doing what she is told to do but deep down she knows that she deserves the pain she feels thanks to her painful history.  Akos is kidnapped by the Shotet with his brother when their fates clash with the Shotet ruler.  Both Cyra and Akos really grow throughout the novel. They both see in each other that they don’t have to be what they raised to be.  That they can choose their own paths.  The ending was a little meh but it did pose one interesting question that makes me at least interested in the sequel.  It might be too late for Veronica to fix the unfortunate world building choices in the sequel but I do hope that in the future she takes more time to ask herself, why she is making these choices in her writing.  Is it because this is who the character really is or something that has been internalized in herself coming out on the page.