Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

I’ve said it one but I’ll say it again. Holly Black is at her best when she writes about fairies. She is just well versed in fairy mythology that makes this world feel so steeped in tradition but also new and original. Add all he Royal Court intrigue and you have one great story. The Wicked King is the second book of her Folk of the Air trilogy and after the first book there was a lot of stack. Jude outmaneuvered her father to get the throne away from him and save her brother from having to grow up to soon. She tricked Carden into the throne while controlling him and thus the real power in the kingdom. A lot of the story revolves around those who have power and those who do not. Jude a human living in Fairy often times felt powerless. Even though she learned how to fight from Madoc she would always be at a disadvantage but the thing she has over fairies is that she can lie. Lying and her cleverness is what got her this far but controlling Carden is harder than she anticipated. He doesn’t like being commanded by her anymore than he does being the High King. Things get even more complicated when the Queen of the Undersea is taking this moment to push her advantage and someone close to Jude has or will betray her. Fairies may not be able to lie but that doesn’t mean they can’t deceive. Jude’s strength is her ability to strategies. To see Jude constantly adjusting and planning is truly fascinating. She is constantly looking at all the angles but even the best make mistakes. As much as she plans, she can’t always see the whole chess board. In the end, after all her planning and scheming she is not only maneuvered by Madoc but Carden as well. I’ll admit, I did not see the ending coming. I guess I should have guessed something was up since the title of the next book is The Queen of Nothing but it was still stunning. It’s agonizing that I have to wait until next year to find out what’s going to happen but I know one thing. Jude has not been defeated yet. She’ll be back and all fairies better beware.

Review: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

For the last book in the series, I didn’t find this one all that exciting. I felt it lacked in action and suspense that the others had. To me the outcome that our heroes would would succeed never seemed in doubt. Even when they themselves didn’t know how they were going to defeat Alex. Whatever suspense that the last couple of books tried to create was gone. Maybe that’s because the big battle between the Mages of the Magisterium and the followers of the Enemy of Death happened at the end of the last book. This book they had to battle the arrogant teenage Alex, who accidentally turned himself into chaos and wanted nothing more then power. Not to end Death or prove a point. He wanted a cool headquarters, his enemies gift wrapped for him and his girlfriend. That’s it. Talk about a boring villain. As for our heroes, Call who has been plagued with the fear that he wasn’t who he thought he was because he carried the soul of the Enemy of Death. Throughout the series he dealt with self doubt and the doubt of everyone else. He would keep track of every evil thing he did and tried to figure out if that made him evil or if he was already evil. Battle after battle, he worked to do everything to save his friends and eventually came to the conclusion that he knew who he was. He was good and bad like everyone else but the decisions he made were his own and not someone else’s. That’s a lesson for all of us. So all in all it was a good series. I think that maybe if I was a middle school kid reading this than an adult, it would have been more exciting. I would recommend it to any young kid who is reading or has read Harry Potter as another series they might like but maybe not for adults unless you are a big Holly Black or Cassandra Clare fan.

What I’m Reading Now: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

I decided to read this next because I just finished one Cassandra Clare series. Why not go ahead and finish another one? And 2. I planned on reading Holly Black’s The Wicked King next but it has not come in the mail yet. This seems like a good book to read in the meantime.

What We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019

Now that we have looked back on 2018, it’s time to look ahead to 2019.  We have a lot of fun things planned for next year.  New challenges read a-longs and podcasts!  But most of all we are excited for all the new books to read.  Expanding our already to long to-read lists even more. 2019 is already shaping up to be our best year ever!  So here are some of the books we are looking forward to the most reading next year.

Beth

  1.  King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – Leigh returns to the shores of Ravka to tell us of what happened to Nikolai after the events of Ruin and Rising.  We saw Nikolai make a cameo appearance in Crooked Kingdom so we know he still uses his Sturmhond alias even though he is now the King.  What other things will we learn about him? and what characters from the past series will show up?
  2. The Everlasting Rose by Dhoinelle Clayton – Camille is on the run from Queen Sophia who is beyond a psychopath.  She must find the Princess Charlotte, heal her and come up with a plan with her friends to save everyone.  Hopefully she has learned from past mistakes and be a little bit more observant.
  3. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi – I can only hope that sequel is as impressive as the first book because damn it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  I can’t wait to read what happens next for Zelie and Amari.
  4. The Wicked King by Holly Black – Holly is really at her best when she writes about Faries and that demonstrated with The Cruel Prince.  Now that Jude has tricked Cardan into becoming the King of Faerie, what is she going to do next?
  5. Untitled Sequel to Dread Nation by Justina Ireland – I’m not sure this is even coming out in 2019 but I really want it to.  I need to know what happens next for Jane and Katherine.  Do they make it California?  Who did Jane’s mom marry that gave her away?  So many questions that need answering.
  6.  Final book in the Diviners Series by Libba Bray – Another book that I’m not sure if will be published in 2019 but I’m putting it out into the universe so it will.  The final batle with the King of Crows is coming and only our heroes can stop him.  
  7. Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa – The sequel to the Shadow and the Fox is going to be epic.  Yumeko is still on her mission to keep the scroll safe but Tatsumi is now possessed by the demon from him sword.  Can Yumeko save Tatsumi and the scroll?
  8. Book 1 of the Dreamer Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater – yet another book that I’m not sure if is coming out in 2019 but I know she has book working on it.  Centered on Ronan from the Raven Cycle and how he has and hasn’t changed since the end of The Raven King.  It’ll be nice to get back to the barns and see what dreams Ronan dreams next. 
  9. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – Angie’s first book The Hate U Give destroyed me. It was so beautiful and heartbreaking. I expect nothing less for her second novel about an upcoming rapper trying to save her family.

 Kate

  1. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas– I’m also very excited about this one!
  2. Women Talking by Marian Toews– The blurb says the book is about Mennonite women who had thought that they were being visited by demons in the night to be punished for their sins but find out members of their community have been drugging and attacking them. This promises to be an intense story about women coming together to protect themselves and other women in their community.
  3. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James-The first in a trilogy by award winning author James, the blurb on amazon calls it an African Game of Thrones. I’m so here for this
  4. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett– Here’s what I know about this: it’s about an HIV-positive black teen. I also know that I enjoy Camryn Garrett’s twitter presence and it seems unlikely that I’m going to stop picking books this way in 2019.
  5. Internment by Samira Ahmed-In this near-future novel, Layla Amin and her parents find themselves in an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. This looks like its going to be another intense tale. Layla works, with the help of others, to obtain freedom.

What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

My Top 10 Books of 2018

It’s that time of year where we take a look back at everything we have read this year and come up with our best of the year.  It’s a tough job but not one we take lightly.  It’s been a very diverse year for me.

1.Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi –This fantasy was like nothing I’ve ever read.  A little bit of magic, a little bit of adventure and a little bit social commentary.  It took me on a wild ride as Zelie discovers her own powers and does what she can to help her people from the evil King who has done all he can to erase her people.  It was a breathtaking first book.

2. A Cruel Prince by Holly Black-Holly Black is at her best when she is writing about fairies.  It really is her element.  The lush world that Black has created is so rich and vibrant that I almost wanted to go if it wasn’t filled with blood thirsty fairies.  Looking for a fantasy full of royal intrigue this one is also for you.

3. Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab –Technically I read the first book last year but I finished the trilogy so I’m counting them all as one.  It was one wild fantasy series.  From truly vile villains, pirates, royalty magic and supernatural forces it really did have everything but never felt too much.

4. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland- This one I think I liked for the very beginning. Jane was born a slave but when the dead of Civil War come back to life, Jane is sent to a boarding school that teaches her and other girls of color how to fight zombies so they may one day work in a nice home as protection.  Jane is resourceful, smart and funny.  She knows how to kill a zombie. 

5. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer –Carrie was truly one of a kind and is sorely missed.  Her diary that she wrote while filming the first Star Wars was honest, raw and funny.  Really what you would expect from Carrie Fischer.

6. Shadow and the Fox by Julie Kagawa- Add a little fox, a trained warroir with a demon infused sword and Japanese mythology and you get one fun book.  I really enjoyed the story building and characters as they try to steal save the scroll that will summon the dragon that will grant wishes was great.

7. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake- The third book in the series was definitely a keeper.  I mean they all were but it was still great.  We finally get to see more of the world outside of Fennbirn Island and how the Queens became to be.  The mythology is really coming together and it’s going to lead to an epic finale.

8. Wildcard by Marie Lu – Emika is so cool. As she unravels the mysteries and tries to save not just Hideko from himself but everyone else from an even bigger conspiracy.  It was a fun novel and reminder that not everyone on the internet is your friend.

9..Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir- Elias, Laia and Helene are on opposite sides of the fight against the Nightbringer and keeping the balance. It’s a thrilling race against time to bring down the Nightbringer and the Empire and Elias Mom, who is just frightening.

10. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson- I’m still waiting for the last book in her Shades of London series but this filled the void. Who doesn’t love a good boarding school mystery?  Stevie decides she wants to go to this exclusive boarding school because she wants to be the one to solve it’s biggest mystery of who kidnapped and killed the daughter and wife of the school’s founder.  Twice and turns abound in this one. 

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.

Pop Culture Assignment for Kate: Horror and Suspense

I had a hard time coming up with an assignment for Kate. My originally thought about assigning her first books in four different series but I had a trouble narrowing it down and  most of them are series that she would totally have read if she hadn’t been so busy the last couple of years working on PhD.  Which kinda defeats the purpose since the assignments are supposed to be of books that we normally wouldn’t read on our own.  So I decided on four different standalone horror and suspense novels.  All four of these books I enjoyed for different reasons.  I think it’s good to have a scare every now and then but also like how genre can comment on social issues without being in your face about it but also to an audience that normally wouldn’t seek out such material on their own.  So I’m excited to see how she like them.

cryers cross Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

I’m starting off Kate with Cryer’s Cross.  I would say is kinda of a ghost story.  Kendall loves her small town in Montana but she has dreams of going to school in New York. When tragedy strikes and her friends start to go missing, she teams up with the new boy to solve the mystery.  Race, mental disorders and small town secrets all come into play in this well written mystery.

coldestgirl The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Holly Black is a master story teller and this is in my opinion one of her best books.  She takes the vampire genre to a new level with this one.  I have to say it’s right up there with Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  Cities have been walled up to quarantine off vampires from the regular populations.  Tana wakes up the day after a party to find herself the only survivor of a vampire attack with the vampire and her ex-boyfriend both tied up.  She must make the decision to take them to a Coldtown.  Depression and the search for fame are also examined as they make their journey.

the waking dark The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

They called it the Killing Day when regular citizens go on a killing spree out of nowhere in a small town in Kansas.  Five teenagers from different parts of town are thrown together as they try to survive the night and the mysterious virus goes through the town.  Social classes, privilege, abuse all play apart of the narrative as they figure out what’s going on and how they can escape it.

scowler Scowler by Daniel Kraus

I changed my final book.  I originally was going to have Kate read another Holly Black novel but it didn’t really fit the whole horror theme.  This one kinda gave me nightmares.  So good Luck, Kate.  Ry and his mother and sister are trying to save their Iowa farm when a meteorite hits nearby and their past comes back to haunt them.  Their abusive father is on the loose and Ry must rely on his old imaginary friends to helped him survive his father before.  Can they do it again?

I hope Kate and everyone who chooses to read along will enjoy their Summer of Horror and Suspense.

 

Quick Review: A Cruel Prince by Holly Black

cruel prince I feel like singing “Hello Dolly” except it is “Hello Holly” because she is back to where she belongs.  No one writes about Fairies the way that Holly does. From the Spiderwick Chronicles to  Modern Faerie Tales to Darkest Part of the Forest, her stories are a mixture of faerie lore with modern twists and not one is the same.  The Cruel Prince is a new spin on the changeling story.  Instead of a fairy leaving one of their off spring with humans to replace their own babies, we have twins Jude and Taryn who are stolen from their home after Madoc kills their parents.  You see, Madoc is the general to the High King in Faerie and has an odd sense of honor.  He married their mother and well she escaped, taking their baby, Vivi, with her to the Human world. Ten years later he finds her married to another and in a fit of rage kills both of them and then out of duty he takes all the kids back to Faerie and raises them as his own.  Jude and Taryn were seven when they come to live and Faerie and have come to think about it as home despite living with their parents murderer.  There are only two ways humans can join the court.  They can either marry their way in or earn their way by becoming a knight.  Taryn wants to the former and Jude the latter.  In Jude’s quest to become a Knight she battles against the cruel and spoiled Prince Cardan and his viscous friends.  Like any kid who has ever been bullied, you come to a point where you can no longer just sit by and let things happen and start fighting back.  Jude is given the opportunity to prove herself to Cardan’s brother, Dain, who is expected to be named King by becoming one of his spies but this is Faerie and things don’t go the way you expect.  The coronation didn’t go as planned, people revealed themselves to be not to who she thought them to be.  Despite all the betrayals and double crosses, Jude takes the opportunity to make her own power play.  I love Jude.  She is smart and brave.  Being a human growing up in Faerie is fraught with challenges but she has found ways to turn those disadvantages to her advantage and outsmarts them all.  That being said, the real conflict as the series is going to be if she able to deliver on all the the promises she’s made.  Will her allies continue to support her? And will Cardan and her ever hook up? Fans of Black’s Modern Faerie Tales trilogy will love the surprise cameos from Roiben and Kaye.  This is a great start to another classic Holly black faerie tale.