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.

Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018

can't wait books 2018

What books can you not wait to read in 2018?  I have lots of course but here are 10 that I really Really can’t wait to read next year.

  1. War Storm by Victoria Aveyard. (May 15, 2018) The final book in her Red Queen Series.  Will Mare and the Scarlet Guard be able take down the Silvers.  Will Maven get overthrown?  Will Cal stop being a dumbass?
  2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. (March 6, 2018) This sounds so amazing! I can’t wait to read it.  Zelie comes from a long line of maji but the new crown prince wants to banish magic from the kingdom.  Zelie has one chance to save magic and her people.
  3. Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi (March 6, 2018) It’s been 4 years since the end of the Shatter Me trilogy ended or so we thought.  Restore Me is going to pick up at the end of Ignite Me. Juliette is the Supreme Commander and Warner is on her side but now that she has the world at her finger tips, what’s next?
  4. Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir. (May 22, 2018) It’s been two years since A Torch Against the Night came out and I’ve been eagerly waiting this one. Laia, Elias and Helene are all in perilously situation.  I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
  5. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. (January 16, 2018) I’ll admit I was hoping it would be the next book in the Shades of London series but I’m just so glad that Maureen has a book coming out.  I do love a good mystery and good ghost story too.
  6. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. (January 2, 2018) So happy that Holly is back with a new series about fairies because no one does fairies like Holly Black.
  7. A Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro. (March 6, 2018) The final book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy can’t come soon enough.  In true Holmes form, Charlotte has really sabotage herself and Watson can’t forgive her.  They try to move on with their lives but someone wants them back together and well I want them back together too.
  8. Dread Nation by Justine Ireland. (April 3, 2018) The American Civil War is interrupted when the Dead of the battlefields come back to life. Jane is in combat school to learn how to take down the dead and with this comes opportunity but Jane wants more. Soon she is wrapped up in a conspiracies and plots that the dead are the least of her worries.
  9. Untitled Sequel to Renegades by Marissa Meyer. (November 6, 2018) Renegades was such a great book and can’t wait to read what’s next.  Nova has successfully infiltrated the Renegades and her old friends are no longer around to blow her cover.  Will she betray her new friends or cement herself as a villain.
  10. The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth. (April 10, 2018) Carve the Mark may have been problematic but it was still good.  I’m curious how things will turn out for Cyra and Akos. Will they be able to escape their destinies or are they running right into them?
  11. The Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. (No set date) I’m not sure this is coming out in 2018 but I really hope so.  Strange the Dreamer was so beautiful I can’t wait to find out what happens next, especially after what happened at the end.
  12. Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas. (September 4, 2018) The final book in the Throne of Glass series and it’s been quite a ride for Aelin and friends.  Who knows how it will all end.  Well I guess Sarah J. Maas does but for everyone else it’s anyone’s guess.
  13. Untitled (WarCross #2) by Marie Lu. (No set date) Another one I’m not sure if it’s coming out in 2018 but I’m pretty sure. I was riveted by the first book and I’m looking forward to meeting the “hacker” and all the potential he is inevitably going to cause.
  14. Heart of Venom by Sherrilyn Kenyon. (2018) It also doesn’t have a set date besides 2018.  It’s either the first in the Shadows of Fire series or #9 in the Chronicles of Nick series.  However you want to look at it, it’s a switch in tone and focus for Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters.  With a duel narrators of the Cyprian Malachai (Nick’s Son) and the Ambrose Malachai (Nick Himself) we find out if Nick truly does embrace his destiny or if the sacrifices he made at the end of Intensity was enough to forge his own path.
  15. Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes. (February 6, 2018) The final book in the closest YA book to Game of Thrones with it’s epic scope, world building and body count was originally scheduled to come out this month but was pushed back.  I’m sure the extra two months will be worth the wait.
  16. Aru Shah and the End of Times by Roshani Chokshi. (April 3, 2018) The first book to be published under Rick Riordan’s new imprint highlighting stories from authors and characters from around the world.  Aru Shah takes on Hindu legends to save her mother and classmates.
  17. Untitled by Maureen Johnson. (No set date) The Shadow Cabinet, the last book released in the Shades of London series had me on the edge of my feet and it’s been so long since it came out.  I’m not sure that the next book is coming out in 2018 but Maureen has mentioned on twitter that she has two books coming out in 2018 so it’s a safe bet. *crosses fingers*
  18. Untitled by Kendare Blake. (September 4, 2018)  I didn’t know that the Three Dark Crowns was originally planned to be a duology. I’m glad that Kendare Blake and her publisher decided to extend it because there are so many things about this world and these character left to be explored.
  19. Untitled by Traci Chee (2018) The final book in the Sea of Ink and Gold Series.  Sefia and Archer continue to fight what is written and defeat their destiny while also staying ahead of their enemies.
  20. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (May 1, 2018) I’m interested in this one since this in the first book that Sally Green has published since she ended her Half Bad trilogy two years ago.  Half Lost left me broken and in tears. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that again but I can’t wait to see what Sally does next.

Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks Results

diverse-narrators-diverse-stacks

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?

 

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.