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. 

Quick Review: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

shadow of the fox I was first introduced to Kitsunes thanks to the TV show Teen Wolf (I miss that show) A japanese story of someone who can turn into a fox.  Yumeko is only half-kitsune and has been raised by monks in a temple.  Like foxes, she’s mischievious and curious.  She plays tricks on the monks to some of their chagrins but the Monks also teach her how to control her kitsune powers, which will come in handy when it is revealed that the temple guards a piece of the dragon scroll. The dragon scroll when put together raises a dragon every 1000 years.  The person with the scroll is granted one wish and depending on who making the wish it can be good or bad.  It’s almost time to summon the dragon and many people are after the scroll.  One of them is the master to the Demonslayer, Tatsumi from the Shadow Clan. Tatsumi has a very powerful sword that contains a dangerous demon.  He has to control his emotions or the demon in his sword will take over him.  Tatsumi and Yumeko team up to find the missing scroll.  Well, Yumeko has one piece but needs Tatsumi to help her get it to another temple and keep it safe.  Through their journey they meet other people along the way, including the delightful ronin, Okame and noble Daisuke.  They are challenged by spirits and other supernatural beings who try to get the scroll away from them but they grow a bond that is unmistakable.  For all the fear of the some of the monks that Yumeko’s fox side will take over her humanity, they shouldn’t have worried because it’s her compassion and quick thinking that often saves them.  Her first time outside of the temple, she is often filled with wonder of her surroundings.  Some of the most amusing bits is when Okame introduces her sarcasm for the first time.  At first she is confused by it but soon begins to understand it.  It’s wonderful.  I really liked this book and can’t wait for the sequel.  It’s full of lush descriptions of samarai’s and court life and nature that you can’t be helped to be sucked in.  I highly recommend it.

Books I Can’t Wait to Read this Fall!!

Summer is over and now it’s to look forward to some fall reading.  So get your pumpkin spice latte ready as here are some of the books I can’t wait to read this fall.

  1. The Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (October 2)-The sequel to Strange the Dreamer and left off one big cliffhanger.
  2. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (October 2)-Shapeshifters, samurais and Japanese mythology.  Yes please.
  3. A Very Large Expense of the Sea by Tahereh Mafi (October 16) In our attempt to read more diverse voices.  Tahereh Mafi releases probably her most personal story yet.  Shirin is a muslim girl starting a new school a year after 9/11.
  4. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (October 23)- The last book in the epic Thorne of Glass series.  Who will prevail and who will die?
  5. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer (November 6)-The second book in the Renegades trilogy.  The ending of Renegades really changes the dynamics of this one.
  6.  The Storyteller by Traci Chee (November 13)- The final book in the Sea of Gold and Ink trilogy.  Is the future already written for Sefia and Archer?
  7. The Reckoning of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin (November 13)-Noah Shaw has done some bad things and so has her girlfriend Mara Dyer.  The consequences might be finally catching up to them.

What are you looking forward to reading this fall?

Review: Inferno by Julie Kagawa

inferno The final book in the Talon Saga was kinda of a disappointment in the sense that I didn’t really love it only liked it.  It took a really long time to get going and for the final book the lack of urgency was a strange.  The characters kept telling each other about how the end is coming soon but really didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to prepare for it until they had no choice to and then things Finally got going.  But damn, we had to go through a lot of things to get there.  There was the unnecessary trip to Brazil to meet an ancient dragon that was never mentioned before and there was another trip to Asia for the that we all knew how it would end up.  There were past mentioned characters showing up and taking up time for no reason but fit in one more heroic arc?  I don’t know.  The finale however was worth it though.  The final battle between the Rogues, St. George and Talon made up the lackluster beginning.  It had drama, suspense and melodrama all wrapped into one.  I appreciate the theme of the series being that even though we may be different, what we all want out of life is the same.  We want to live in peace and have freedom of choice.  And authoritative governments are bad.  The best way to bring down an oppressive regime is to overcome our differences and work together and learn from each other.  I very important message for today.  That’s what you should take away from this series in the end. I just wished the last book wasn’t so bogged down in so many side trips.

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.

In Memoriam of all the Series that Ended in 2016

In the tradition of award shows every way, we at Stacks would like to recognized those series that are no longer with us.  They have ended.  They and solved all their mysteries and tied up any loose ends.  We were said to see them go but they will always be remembered for the joy that brought to our lives.

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Quick Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

soldierI think this was the best book of the series so far.  The world and the characters are now well established so we can get on with the conflict of the story.  When we last left off, Garret left after hoping that Ember would tell him to stay.  Ember was too raw from the fight with her brother and her dragon side feelings for Riley to say what she truly felt and let him go.  They both understood that they are two different species so it probably wouldn’t work out.  That’s how they justified it at least.   Garret has gone to London where St. George is headquarters to get answers to if the order knows that their are good dragons, while Ember and Riley try to track down who is leaking information on his safe houses.  Garret soon finds information that St. George and Talon have been working together and have set a trap for Ember and Riley so off he goes to rescue her.  Meanwhile, Ember’s twin brother Dante gets promoted to a secret project that we won’t know it’s true purpose until the next book but it’s definitely not good.  Even though he is all in with Talon, he is having some reservations about what he is doing but not enough to stop him from doing what he is told at all cost.  So the stakes are much higher.  Both Talon and St. George are after them and only if they can work together to break up the alliance.  Ember is starting to come into her potential about how powerful she can be but in doing so she finds that what she has to do to survive is not always easy to live with.  Killing is never easy.  Garret knows that St. George is corrupt but it doesn’t make going against his former order and brothers any easier.  Also Riley has been shut down for so long that it’s hard for him to open up to Ember.  This book was far more action packed then previous book with a pretty big cliffhanger.  One can only hope that everyone gets out alive or at least get a Jon Snow treatment.