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.

 

Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

fifth-season This was a very interesting book.  I can see why it won so many awards.  It is beautifully written and has a well crafted world that brings you in.  That being said, I did find it hard to get into at first.  I think it had to do with the sort of complicated world the characters inhabit and having three different narrators that seem to living in the same nation but not at the same time. As one is living at the end of the world, while the other two are not.  Once I was able to grasp that the timelines of the three narrators were different, it made it much easier to enjoy the storytelling.  The story begins as Essun, is mourning the loss of his son who was murdered by her husband for being an Orogene.  Orogenes are powerful beings that can derive power from the earth but are feared for this power because it’s unpredictable and can destroy as easily as it can save.  Damasaya is also an Orogene, who has been locked in her families barns after she was discovered.  And finally Syenite, a powerful orogene who has been given two different assignments that involve the most powerful orogene in the world.  Each narrator is different.  Damasaya is young and unsure of her future as she is afraid of who she is while Syenite is the opposite.  She knows exactly who she is and how good she is.  She is confident in who she is and ambitious to boot. Essun is definitely a woman who has seen and knows way too much.  She is strong but even the strongest of us breaks.  When her husband kills her son and possibly her daughter she is at a loss.  Soon revenge becomes her only motivating factor.  Essun’s story is also effected by the beginning of the Fifth Season. Every so often the Earth turns against the people and sets off catastrophic natural disasters.  Some season’s last years while some last decades. It’s clear to Essun that this season is going to last centuries.  So she sets off to find her husband while knowing the world is ending soon.  Syenite and Damasaya are not experience the same end of the world troubles that Essun is and at first this was confusing since both were headed towards or living where the disaster had occurred.  This was what made me think that the narratives were not all happening at the same time.  The narrators do not seem to have much in common beyond they are all women and orogenes but it when it’s revealed what there relationship it was a gut punch.  I didn’t see it coming.  I think that  is because it’s so well written.  You could literally get lost in the writing as N.K. tells these women’s stories.  They all have such hard struggles as they live and work in a very rigid society.  People of this world are separated into different Comm names and it defines who they are what they do. If you don’t fit in a Comm you are in trouble when the seasons come. They all must try to do their best to find their own voice while still playing by the rules and of course there are far more rules for women.  So even though it’s a fantasy novel, it’s still very much set in real life too.

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

first-grave I knew this before but my Mom has good taste because this book was delightful.  Charley Davidson is not just a Private Investigator, she’s also a Grim Reaper.  Sorry, not just a Grim Reaper, she’s THE Grim Reaper.  Which isn’t such a terrible job one might imagine. She just helps the departed cross over to the other side.  Also being the Grim Reaper and a PI, she is also her detective uncle’s secret weapon when it comes to solving crimes since she can see the dead and you know, ask them who killed them.  It sort of cheating but whatever.  When we meet Charley, she’s been called by her Uncle Bob to help her with a new homicide.  It soon develops into more then just a simple triple homicide but something all together.  Too complicate things even more, Charley has been having these super realistic dreams that may not be something more supernatural.  Charley now in a race of time to solve a mysterious deaths of her dead clients, figure out her dreams and stop people from trying to kill her over and over again.  Charley is smart, funny and sarcastic. My kind of person.  The cast of characters are fun and fill out the story but Charley is the real star of the story. She is strong and independent but still carries the scars of years people thinking she was crazy but it doesn’t stop her from keep trying to help people, dead or alive.  There is one case in here that is truly sad and heartbreaking and you really feel for not only Charley who truly felt she was helping but for her client as well.  Sadly, just like in real life not everything turns out the way we want them too.  That said, I’m really looking forward to the next book. If anyone is on the fence about this one, I say just jump in! Especially fans of Sookie Stackhouse.  There may not be Vampires, Werewolves and such but fill of supernatural beings, colorful cast of characters and wonderful female protagonist.

Throne of Glass Novellas by Sarah J. Maas

assassins-bladeAfter I finished reading Empire of Storms, I decided to go back and read the prequel novellas as many of the characters we meet in these stories make appearance and play a role in the final book to come out next year.  It’s very common for authors to publish novellas or short stories in connection with successful series.  Most of the time they have little consequence to the actual narrative of the series themselves.  They are just a fun story about the time before, or another character’s perspective.  The further I got into Empire of Storms and the big reveals starting to come out, I realized that I these novellas were more important then I originally thought.  The end was blending of Aelin’s present with Celaena’s past.  If Aelin is going to defeat Erawan and reclaim her crown in Terrasan she is going to have call in all of Celaena’s favors.  And so I went back and bought all the novellas. The five novella’s The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire tell the story of the months that lead her to be arrested and sent to Endovier where we meet her in the Throne of Glass that starts everything in motion.  All five novellas were collected together and later published under the named The Assassin’s Blade.

The novella’s we see  Celaena in her full Adarlan’s Assassin glory.  She is the most feared assassin in the land and she knows it.  As Arobynn Hamel’s protege she is at the top of her game, when she is sent to the Skull’s bay to meet with Captain Rolfe, the Pirate Lord.  When she finds out that her master is going into the Slave business, she defies him for the first time.  With the help of fellow assassin Sam Cortlandt she not only saves the slaves Arobynn was trading but all the slaves.  All good deeds don’t go unpunished.  She is severely punished and sent to the desert to learn from the Mute Master of the Silent Assassins. Here she meets Ansel of Briarcliff, her first real female friendship and new skills. Upon her return Arobynn gives her a mission that she can’t refuse but it ends up in even bigger betrayal that she pays off her and Sam’s debt’s and leaves Arobynn behind.  Celaena and  Sam have fallen in love and plan to Rithfold behind but not before they do one last job.  This leads to tragedy and ultimately what leads to the beginning of the series.  Caleana’s exploits are alluded too in the earlier books but didn’t really have much to do with the actual plot until our heroes make their way to Skull’s Bay to try to convince Captain Rolfe to join their cause.  Since the last time Aelin was there, she destroyed the docks and ended the very profitable slave trade for the Pirate King.  So, not the best impression to leave on the a possible ally. The Pirate Lord and Ansel have been mentioned before but in passing.  I used to think it was just a wink to not only Celaena’s past but also to all those readers who read the novellas but both Rolfe and Ansel play a pivotable role in Aelin’s plans to win the war. The stories gives us a sense about who Celaena was before the action of the series and how deep the scars run for her.  From the books, we know how complicated her relationship with Arobynn is but since it all happened before the action of the series we didn’t get see how toxic it truly was.  We also get to know Sam. His death is major part of Celaena’s story arc in the first two books.  It’s what haunts her and motivates her to seek out Arobynn for the truth. These are some of the rare series novellas that actually further the series plot and for that for fans of the Throne of Glass series, it’s worth reading all the novellas.

Quick Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

empire-of-storms **Spoilers**

First, can we talk about her badass jacket on the cover? I really want a jacket like that. Anyhoo, at the end of the last book.  The King of Adarlan is dead, killed by Dorian while he was under Erawan’s spell. He broke away from his power but not in time to save Chaol from terrible back injury that we still don’t know the extent of his injuries.  Will he be able to walk again? Is he even still alive? Aelin, has taken her former masters money and has one of the Wyrdkeys and now is heading home to Terrasan with Rowan, Aedion and Lysandra. Manon and her thirteen save Elide from Morath after Kaltain blows up half the mountain not before she gives Elide the second Wyrdkey.  Lorcan, has come to Erilea to get the keys for Maeve. So all the players are in play, well except for Chaol who is MIA and eventually they all meet up to find the lock that will once and for all rid the world of Erawan.  With a book with so many characters it would be easy to lose track of who is who and where they belong in the story but the story lines are woven so seamlessly together that it feels like one story.  Each character has their arc that we have seen true growth in.  Dorian was a sheltered and naive Prince when we first meet him but now he has hardened.  He has experience loss and has find strength in his power.  As he begins to understand his power, he starts to gave more confidence in himself.  They all have grown so much from the first book.  When I think about Throne of Glass it almost feels like a completely different series because they books have gone so far.  As Aelin, Dorian, Aedion and Manon have grown and mature so have the books. They are far more complicated as the characters themselves have become far more complicated.  The most complicated of them all is our former assassin turned Queen, Aelin. She has so much power that she doesn’t even know how powerful she is but one thing that has changed her ability to outsmart her opponents. She always had a plan in motion but I had no idea how long she had been planning her strategy.   Some go as far back as the first and second book.  It’s almost mind blowing about how the dots all are connecting and with one book to go the endgame is in sight.  The ending is pretty devastating but totally worth the pain.  Really looking forward to finding out how this will end.

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

court mist fury**Spoilers**

I think I know what I really didn’t like about the last half of A Court of Thorns and Roses. The first half I liked but I felt that that second half was like a whole other book that just dragged. After reading A Court of Mist and Fury I think what I really bothered me was that deep down, I knew Tamlin wasn’t worth Feyre going through all the trials and tortures.  He may have loved her but not truly and that was only more evident as he allowed her to fade away while he tried to rebuild his court.  I get wanting to let things settle but she was clearly unhappy.  Unable to sleep through the night and he did nothing but promise once things settle down things will be better.  And worst of all trapped her in his home after she was trapped Under the Mountain.  When you compare Tamlin to Rhys, you can see how truly unworthy Tamlin is.  Rhys is not just in love with Feyre.  He understands her.  He is her equal. Rhys would have been a worthy person for Feyre to go through the trials and torture.

I’ve talked about how YA novels have treats PTSD or getting over traumatic experiences.   It’s infuriating how often they ignore it or have or other characters don’t acknowledge that the hero or heroine is suffering by making them feel worst for not getting over it fast enough.  Here we have two different reactions to Feyre’s ordeal Under the Mountain.  Tamlin seems so consumed with his own pain of what happened to him that he doesn’t see Feyre is wasting away right in front of him.  He’s too afraid of losing her again that he keeps her locked up and it’s stifling her to a point that she can’t recover.from her own trauma.  Rhys gives Feyre time to heal.  He gives her space and pushes her only when he needs too.  He encourages her to learn to read and to test out her new powers.  He does have the benefit of being connected to her through their bargain but he also has the power to read people’s minds.  He introduces her to his friends and lets her in on his plans and decision making. It’s exactly what Feyre needs.  It gives her not only time to recover from what happened to her but understand that the relationship with Tamlin was flawed and in the end unhealthy.  Of course, it also gives her time to realize that she is not only well suited for Rhys but is in love with him.  So to go back to my original point.  Tamlin wasn’t worth the torture that Feyre went through but it was for her to get to know Rhys though.  I’m glad I decided to read this book after only being so-so with the last one.

 

Observations on Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

blue lilyAll the feels!  Re-reading this book just reaffirms how painful The Raven King is going to be.

  • What’s the deal with Henry Cheng?  I mean seriously?  Maggie has already said he is going to play a bigger part in the next book but what?  What was he doing out that late at night when Gansey and Blue run into him?
  • Speaking of, is there ever been a more romantic non-kiss.  It almost puts some actually literary kisses to shame!
  • I want to know more about Persephone’s backstory.  Actually I want a spin-off series that is just about Persephone, Maura and Calla.  Hey Maggie, can you make that happen?
  • Adam learned a very important lesson.  That it is okay to ask for help and even if you don’t ask, if a friend offers it’s not out of pity but out friendship.
  • Piper Greenmantle is not someone I would want to meet in a dark alley.  That woman is truly scary.
  • What is Gansey doing in the faculty lounge?  Does he already know he’s going to die and this is him making plans?
  • Why haven’t any written the Murder Squash song?
  • I love how all-in Ronan is to being Supernatural.  He’s owning is Greywareness!
  • Also how touching was his revelation about Matthew?  How he’s working on saving him.  With what happened in the cave, do you think he’s figured it out.
  • I like Blue and Ronan’s relationship. For all his guff, Ronan can’t help but care.  He saved her from falling twice, once in the beginning of the book and in the end and then stayed behind in the dark to make sure she got to the other side.  He’s a class act when he wants to be.
  • What kind of man buries their daughter, face down in a grave for robbers to find? Maybe Glendower isn’t worth it after all.
  • Jesse Dittley wasn’t kidding when he said his cave was cursed.  May he Rest In Peace
  • Never Scrying by yourself kids.

So, we are now two weeks away from the release of The Raven King and the anticipation is just killing me.  Will they find Glendower?  Will Blue and Gansey finally kiss and will it kill him?  Will Ronan and Adam kiss? Who is the third sleeper? Is it a huge spider because I am not okay with that! What has Neeve been doing all this time?  I have so many questions that I hope to get answered soon.  Dear readers, what are your questions for The Raven King?

Countdown to The Raven King!

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Guess what Guys?!  I just figured out we can do slideshows! This is so exciting to me!  Anyhoo, it’s April!  Finally!  Only 25 more days until the release of the The Raven King!  FINALLY!!!!  I can’t wait!  I’m excited but dreading it all the same time because you know that none of us are coming out of this unscathed.  Now that I think about it, keep Stacks in your thoughts in the last week of April, first week of May because it’s going to be a couple of brutal weeks for Kate and I between this and Captain America.  So here we go, to help everyone prepare for the final book in the The Raven Cycle, we are going to look back at past reviews and commentary about one of our favorite series.

First, Let’s start from the beginning with Kate’s review of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves.  Somehow, I haven’t written a formal review for this series.  Strange.

Here are a few more posts about The Raven Cycle

Public Service Announcement

What I’m Thankful for

Books that Rocked My Face off, Part two

Dear Stackologist: Life is Full of Tough Choices

RE: Sexism, Twitter and Giant Insects

Highs and Lows of Fandoms by Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater

Cover Reveal: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Discussion Posts: Re-reading series before the new installment comes out

Fan Art

Books that Rocked My Face Off in 2015

What I Can’t Wait to Read in 2016

Currently Reading: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

And finally, First Listen of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Later this week, we will start discussion posts about what we think is going to happen in The Raven King.