You Like Us, Really Really Like Us!

It’s that time of year where we take a look back at the last 12 months. 2018 was by far our best year we have ever had here at Stacks.  Thank you for all spent their time reading our little blog here.  Here are the top ten posts that you all really really liked.

  1. Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart – I’m surprised by all the traffic from this post but hey I’m glad you came. 
  2. Quick Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – Thanks to the success of the movie for the first book, which I loved.  I can’t wait for the sequel.
  3. Quick Review: Intensity by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Another surprise but maybe you are like me and miss Nick so much.
  4. Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – Such a great book.
  5. Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake – Another really great book.
  6. Review: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray – For a series set in the 20’s, it could not be more relevant for today.
  7. A Wizard of Earthsea: Chapter 2: The Shadow – Interesting that our read along to A Wizard of Earthsea that Chapter 2 was the one that to the most views.  Also this is the only post in the top 10 that is from 2018.
  8. Review: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – Another surprised entry.
  9. Quick Review: The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin – Noah Shaw has some issues he has to work out.
  10. Some of my favorite Quotes from In Other LandsOMG!  So many great quotes in this book.

Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks Results

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So how did I do with this year’s challenge.  Pretty good, I think.  I read a few books that I normally wouldn’t have read and other books I would have because I love the authors.  I didn’t complete the challenge though and I’m sad about that.  Will have to do better in 2018.

  1. A Book with a Trans Narrator: Eddie Izzard in Believe Me by Eddie Izzard
  2. Queer Narrator: Apollo in The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  3. African American Narrator: John Lewis in March Vols. 1-3 by John Lewis
  4. African Narrator: Did not complete
  5. Narrators from various socio-economic backgrounds: Rainey, Rio and Frangie from Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  6. Asian-American Narrator: Lara Jean in Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and Daniel in The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  7. Disabled Narrator: Call from The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  8. Narrator that survived Abuse: Feyre, Rhysand, and pretty much every character in A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  9. Asian Narrator: Sunja in Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee
  10. Native American Narrator: Did not complete
  11. Mexican Narrator: Cristina in Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
  12. Indigenous Mexican Narrator: Did not complete
  13. Muslim Narrator: Kamala in Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
  14. Jewish Narrator: Rainey in Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  15. Atheist Narrator: Magnus Chase in Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

So I competed 12 out of 15, which isn’t bad but I was really hoping to do all 15.  How well did you do this year?

 

Top 10 Posts of 2017

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2017 is almost at an end.  It was quite a challenging year but at least it was filled with a lot of great books.  Here are the Top 10 posts that got the most views on Stacks this year.  Thank you for all of you stopped by and took a glance at our little corner of the internet.

  1. Quick Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han I’m pleasantly surprised this one came out on top.  It got over twice many views as #2 of this list so you all must have loved it.  I’ll admit, I had mixed feelings about this novel because as much as I loved Lara Jean and glad I got to spend more time with her, I’m not sure it was really needed another book.
  2. Sending Love to Sarah Rees Brennan This is another surprise since it was originally posted in 2016 but I hope the continue views have sent Sarah more healing vibes because I do love reading her books.
  3. Quick Review: Intensity by Sherrilyn Kenyon I just adore this series and even though I’m unsure if this is the last book in the series or just shift in the series focus.  Either way, I can’t wait to read more about Nick.
  4. Some of My Favorite Quotes from In Other Lands Another post about Sarah Rees Brennan.  This one got a boost from the author herself!
  5. Rick Riordan Presents I was excited to read about Rick’s new imprint featuring authors of color writing about myths and stories about their cultures.  It’s great seeing Rick use his power to feature new voices and help diversify our stories.
  6. Review: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray One of my favorite books of the year from one of the best series I have read in a long time.  Here’s hoping she doesn’t take another two years to finish the series finale.
  7. Highs and Lows of Fandoms by Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater Another post from 2016 that was big in 2017 probably because many of the issues still exist.
  8. Review: Endure by Sara B. Larson Another surprise.  This review made the 2016 list of Top posts too.
  9. Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare Cassandra Clare knows how to bring the drama.  I’m happy that she’s decided to publish the finale of this trilogy before starting her next Shadowhunter trilogy.
  10. Review: Half Lost by Sally Green In 2016, this was the top post and in 2017 it’s still in the Top 10 and I’m still surprise.  I guess not though because the book still haunts with it’s powerful ending.

Review: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

silver mask So what do you do when you have the soul of the enemy of death even though you have no memory of his past life and now everyone else knows it and blames you for the death of your best friend but your innocent?  For Call it means you get thrown in jail, broken out and then kidnapped by the very people who’ve been trying to avoid the last three years.  Call’s luck is almost none existent.  Call is also full of self doubt and guilt.  He wasn’t the one to kill Aaron, that was Alex but he still feels responsible for it.  If Tamara had chosen to save Aaron instead of Call it would have been Call who died and not Aaron.  Does Tamara regret that choice?  Call had always assume that Tamara liked Aaron more than him and like most people tolerated him because Aaron did.  Now that Tamara, Jasper and Call are kidnapped by Master Joseph and his crew things get a little hazy.  Call is not Constantine despite having his soul but he’s been having trouble convincing others of this.  He may not be him but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t share some of his ambitions.  Without Aaron, Call feels a little lost and maybe all would be forgiven and go back to what they were if Aaron was alive again.  Master Joseph gives him the chance.  Raise Aaron back from the dead and you can decide whether you want to stay or not.  The Enemy of Death was called that because his obsession with defeating death.  I’m not sure I buy that if Call is able to bring Aaron back that all would be forgiven and that all of a sudden there would be so much support for his cause but we need to find the conflict.  Of course Call is able to bring back Aaron by doing the one thing that Constantine was never willing to do, give apart of himself to do so but you can never go back.  Aaron is not as he was because he was dead and should be dead.  Call’s plan to bring Aaron back and things go back the way they were goes sideways immediately and battle ensues.  If I didn’t know that there is one more book left in the series, I would almost think that this was finale because there was a lot of loose ends tied up.  I’m not sure where they go from here but there is still one bad guy still out there.

This is part of my Diverse Narrator challenge.  Call is disabled with a bad leg from when he was an infant.  While his lifelong injury played more of a roll in previous books it is still a big part of who the character is.  His bad leg has always made him think that he was less capable then those with two good legs and he’s felt this way because of most of his life that’s what people have told him.  Throughout the series, Call has persevered despite being slow to run or walk.  He’s been able to use his other skills and wit to get in and out of  trouble and prove he is just as capable.  May that be a lesson for us all.

Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Narrator Reading Challenge UPDATE

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We are now halfway through June so I can accurately say we are halfway through the year.  It’s time to check in and see how we are doing with our reading challenges.  This year we decided to split up our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge into two different.  One for authors and one for narrators.  I’m doing the Narrators and I have to say, I’m doing pretty well.  Now, I think there may be a few arguments over some of my books but who doesn’t love a good debate?  Going off my list of the books I’ve read, I discovered that there were a few things we should have discussed before setting the challenge out.  For instance, can you use the same book for different categories if they have more then one Narrator?  I’m going to go with yes because you are getting different perspectives from different characters.  So  here we go.

  1.  Book with a Queer Narrator: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.  Narrator: Apollo.  Ok, so this maybe a stretch because as Kate asked me Can we apply modern categories of sexuality to ancient Gods?  Well I don’t know, but in The Dark Prophecy, Apollo is currently exiled to Earth as a mortal and while being on Earth has shown equal interest in both Men and Women.  So, in the context of the book, I’m counting it.
  2. Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
  3. Book with characters from various socio-economic backgrounds Silver Stars by Michael Grant.  Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
  4. Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Narrators: Lara Jean and Daniel.  I decided to count both since they are both Asian Americans but they have very different perspectives on growing up in America.  Lara Jean is definitely your more typical middle class teenage girl who grew up in the suburbs.  She’s also mixed because of her Dad is white so she straddles both sides.  Daniel grew up in New York City and is the son of two immigrant parents. (I thought about using Natasha from The Sun is also a Star as my African American Narrator but technically speaking she’s not American as her family was living in the US illegally)
  5. Book with a Narrator who has survived abuse: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Narrator : Feyre.  I really could have picked any character in this book but since it’s all from Feyre’s point of view she gets the top billing.
  6. A Book with a Mexican Narrator: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Narrator: Cristina.  I admit I maybe stretching it a little thin with this one.  Cristina is one of six narrators in Lord of Shadows and not one of the two main characters but she is an important to the story as a whole so for now I’m counting it but it might change before the year is out.
  7. A Book with a Muslim Narrator: Ms. Marvel Vols. 2-4 by G. Willow Wilson. Narrator: Kamala
  8. A Book with a Jewish Narrator: Silver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrator: Rainey I know that I have already used Silver Stars before but Rainey is a fascinating character.  I love reading her.
  9. A Book with an atheist Narrator: Believe Me by Eddie Izzard. Narrator: Eddie Izzard.  He doesn’t go too much into his atheism but he does make it very clear he doesn’t believe in any god.

9 out of 15 is pretty good.  Even if you take out the few iffy ones, I’m still over halfway done with my challenge.  How are you doing?

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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**This Review May contain some Spoilers**

I read a lot of fantasy novels and lately many of them have been relevant to what’s currently going on in our world.  I would say that some of it is a reaction to today’s political and cultural climate but books and art have a history of being predictive.  The Handmaid’s Tale was written over two decades ago and is just if not more relevant today then it was then.  Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices might be her most political and timely series out of all her Shadowhunter series but it was years in the making first set in motion 10 years ago with the release of City of Bones.  One of the main threats in Lord of Shadows comes from within the Clave itself.  At the end of the The Mortal Instruments Series City of Heavenly Fire, the Clave started the Cold Peace.  A harsh punishment against Fairies for their involvement in the Dark War.  This has lead to anti-downworlder’s sentiment to spread among Shadowhunters.  Once again proving that people, even supernatural people do not learn from their own history.  Less then five years ago, they defeated Valentine, who’s group wanted to bring back the “golden age” of shadowhunters by ridden the world of downworlders and now the Cohort, a group of Shadowhunters are asking for downworlders to be registered and put into camps.  They movements should be marked and controlled.  Does that sound kinda familiar? It shouldn’t surprise any of you that the downworlders, particularly fairies are not happy and plan in invasion.  While all of this is happening, the Blackthorns and Emma are dealing with their own issues.  With each new book, they get more and more complicated with so many story lines that Clare is almost at George R.R. Martin level but not as many deaths.  I’m not sure all are necessary but it does make for interesting reading.  That being said to me the most interesting character is Julian.  Here’s a guy who at seventeen runs the LA institute. He takes care of his younger siblings and is utterly ruthless.  He will do anything for his family and his Parabati, Emma.  Who he is also madly in love with as she is with him but that’s forbidden and for good reason.  Parabati bond is pretty strong and only enhances strong romantic love to the point it drive them crazy.  Yikes.  As for the ending, I knew the character was going to die as soon as she admitted she was going to be friends with another character.  It sounds silly but the way it was written it sounded so final as her arc was over at that moment.  I was sorry to see that character go but boy there will be hell to pay now.  Too bad we have to wait 2 years to find out what happens next.

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

 

Quick Review: The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

bronze-keyI’m a fan of both Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s work so I was pretty stoked about their collaboration.  I just wish it was better.  It’s fine but not great.  Someone pointed out to me that it’s a book meant for middle schoolers so I’m not the targeted audience but Rick Riordan writes for the middle schoolers and those are fantastic.  Holly Black’s Spindlewick Series are also great.  So I don’t think it’s the genre, I think maybe it’s the story itself.  We are now in the third book and Call, Aaron and Tamara are now being honored for killing the Enemy of Death, even though they know the Enemy of Death’s soul is in Call’s body.  Things get complicated when someone tries to kill Call and successfully kill a fellow student.  There’s all the typical kid lit traits.  The adults are clueless.  True, they don’t know Call’s secret but pretty much every time they tell Call he’s going to be safe, he’s attacked.  They allready have had one student and one teacher end up in cahoots with the big bad and they didn’t know it.  Is it any surprise that there would be someone else also in cahoots living right under their noses? No, of course not.  Typically, the kids feel they have do things on their own and typically it gets them in more trouble and typically when the real culprit is revealed the adults aren’t there so they get blamed for everything.  At moments I really enjoy this book but at most times I think “is something going to happen soon?”  I felt like there was a lot going on of nothing really happening until you get to the ending and then there’s yet another big cliffhanger.  I will say this about this series in general, the cliffhangers have been first class.  Too bad the rest of the book don’t live up to them.