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. 

Everything Must Come to an End

As we take a look back at 2018 we started some really great series but we also sadly had to say goodbye to others.  It’s always a bittersweet reading the final book.  On the one hand you finally get to know how it ends but on the other hand sometimes you are not ready to let go quite yet.  So let’s raise a glass to the books that have entertained us over the last couple of years and who knows, maybe our favorite authors will one day return to your fave characters.

  1. Falling Kingdom Series by Morgan Rhodes  – This epic “Game of Thrones” YA series finally came to a close after it’s 6 books.  Alliances were built and destroyed, Gods sent packing and love conquers all.  It was quite a ride.
  2. Front Lines Series (Soldier Girls) by Michael Grant – Rio, Frangie, and Rainey fight until the end of the World War Two.  After three books of following our girls through battle, we finally see them through the end and what they did with their lives afterward.
  3. Carve the Mark Duology by Veronica Roth – Some of the story building was problematic but it was an original idea that was was engrossing.  I do feel that there is enough story left over that Veronica could return this world, she could.
  4. Charlotte Holmes Trilogy by Brittany Cavallaro – There have been many different takes on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.  This time around the Holmes and Watson families have a long history as does the Holmes family and the Moriarty family and a century worth of feuds come to end with Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson in the center. Truly an enjoyable series for any Holmes or mystery fans.
  5. Talon Series by Julie Kagawa – Ember, Riley,Garrett and the soldiers of St. George have no choice to team up if they are going to save the world from Talon  After 5 books it’s been a wild ride
  6. Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard – This may have been one of my favorite YA series since The Hunger Games ended.  It had a little bit of everything.  Super Powers, class warfare, racism and  political philosophy.  I’m sad that it’s over because it was pretty great but I do look forward to what Victoria does next.
  7. Warcross Series by Marie Lu – Virtual reality game is about to take dow the world unless Emika can stop it.  Really it’s not that farfetched and that’s part of it’s brilliance.  Emika is one of the coolest YA heroine.
  8. The Tiger’s Saga by Colleen Houck – This one was kind of disappointment.  This maybe an example of knowing when to stop.  Even though it was always planned on being a quintet, the fourth book was released almost 4 years ago and the story had pretty much been wrapped up.  Tiger’s Dream while a wrap up of Kishan’s arc but was a really long rehash of the last four books.   It didn’t add anything to the story and sort of made me upset with Kishan. 
  9. Strange the Dreamer Duology by Laini Taylor – These two books were beautiful and heartbreaking.  Everyone is living with some sort of a trauma and doing what they can to survive.  We finally see the true depths of what the people of Weep had to live through and it’s horrifying.  You really can’t blame any of them for their anger but despite all the hurt there is a real hopefulness to it.
  10. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas – Seven books and several twists and turns later we finally see how Aelin’s story ends and it’s epic.  There have been so many stories and characters it was almost hard to believe that Sarah was able to tie it all together in a satisfying ending.  It was heartbreaking and hopeful and one wild ride. 

Review: WildCard by Marie Lu

img_1381 I read this as an ARC about a month ago.  Thank you to G.P. Putnam for making it available to me to read.  **May contain minor Spoilers**

Where we left off after Warcross, Hideo had betrayed Emika and really everyone else who uses his Nuerolink lenses by releasing his algorithm that effects how people think and makes it impossible to commit crimes.  Zero who was Emika’s original quarry might now be the ally that she needs to stop Hideo but can he be trusted because after all, he did try to kill her.  That would put a damper on any relationship.  Can she ever forgive Hideo for what he is doing? And who is Zero and the blackcoats?  Are their goals really the same as hers?

If that wasn’t enough, her actions in the Warcross championships has made her the hero to some and cheater to others.  Emika has a lot going on but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks is the right thing to do, even if that means going against the man she loves.  A lot has happened to Emika in her short life.  Her father died and she was placed in foster care.  She ran away and lived on the streets only to support herself by becoming a bounty hunter.  She’s an incredible hacker that is what brought her into this to begin with but she’s used to everything on her own.  The greatest growth that she had was learning that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own.  That she has friends who are willing to carry some of the load for her and when things get even more complicated and she doesn’t know who to trust that friendship becomes even more important.  In Wildcard, we finally learn what really happened to Sasuke, Hideo’s younger brother and it’s even more heartbreaking than anyone assumed. More under the cut. Continue reading

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.

My Top 10 Books of 2017

top 10 books

According to GoodReads.com I read 20,948 pages from 57 books. So you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down to only 10 for the best books I’ve read this year.  There were so many good ones!  I think I ultimately went with these 10 was because while I may have liked some of the other books more or given other’s better reviews or more stars, these 10 books stuck with me longer after finishing reading them.  I would like to think that our Diverse Lives, Diverse Stacks: Diverse Narrators reading challenge is working for me because half of the books were written by Women of Color and they contain protagonists from very diverse backgrounds.  That’s exciting to me but enough of this, let’s get on to the list.

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas– This book was as heartbreaking as it was realistic.  Starr is caught between two worlds but doesn’t really how different they are or how truly different she acts to accommodate both parts of her life until her friend is killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop and she is the only witness.  This really should be a must read in all schools for generations to come and I’m excited that it will also be a movie coming out next year.
  2. Pyromantic by Lish McBride– It’s funny, it’s sarcastic, it’s action packed but mostly it is just plain fun.  I really hope that Lish returns to these characters because there is just so much weirdness she can do with them.
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor-This is such a lush story with great imagery and original concept.  There really isn’t another novel out there right now.  The ending was such a surprise that I have no idea what to expect in the sequel.
  4. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon-Just like The Hate U Give, this is another heartbreaking but all too realistic look at today’s youth.  To strangers, meet and share a life changing day as Natasha fights to stop her family from being deported and Daniel fights the expectations of being a child of immigrants.
  5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin-How do you describe this book?  It  has so much going on and it’s not certain how they all interweave but you know they must somehow.  It’s truly a powerful book it’s no wonder it’s won so many awards.
  6. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray-The third book in The Diviners series takes place in the 1920’s but with it’s themes of race, gender equality and science it’s more relevant than you would think.  Evie, Sam, Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Ling Henry and Isiah have to overcome the coming darkness but also the social limits society places on those in the minority.
  7. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater-People come from far and wide to seek miracles from the Saints of Bicho Raro but even saints themselves need miracles and sometimes those miracles can’t be achieved on their own, sometimes they need a little help from others. That’s the lesson from this one, it’s great to self sufficient but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  8. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan-A great ending to a great trilogy and the power of how diversity makes us stronger.
  9. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake-It’s dark and mysterious but also cool to read of world where women rule and men play supportive roles.  That women are just as complicated and conflicted and are able to be both and still show strength and vulnerability.  Here we get three young women who all of those things and more.
  10. WarCross by Marie Lu-This was fun and exciting thrill of a book.  Full of mystery and kind of a spy novel in a way.  Emika a down on her luck, hacker/bounty hunter gets a chance to play in the biggest game ever in hopes of finding another hacker trying to sabotage the game.  It’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.

So these are my favorite books of 2017.  What are yours?

Crowd Sourcing: Need Suggestions to finish my Diverse Narrators Challenge

diverse-narrators-diverse-stacks

As of yesterday, I had finished my Goodreads.com reading challenge by finishing my 50th book this year.   I decided to look at my own challenge to read more Diverse Narrators and see where I am in it and sadly, I’m not any further along then my last update.  I have books picked out for some categories but I still haven’t read them and I still don’t know about the others.  So dear friends of the internet, help me out with some book recommendations.  What should I read to for the following.

A Book with a Trans Narrator I thought about using Alex Fierro from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead but the story is only from Magnus point of view so that’s out.  I’ve read good reviews for If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo. So I’ll think I’ll try that one but do you know of any other good book with a Trans Narrator?

A Book with an African Narrator I’ve settled on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah because everyone I know who has read it has loved it and I do love him on the Daily Show.  Of course, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor I’m also interested in too.

A Book with an Asian Narrator I thought about using Warcross by Marie Lu but Emika Chen is Asian American and I already have two books for that one and Hideo Tanaka who is British Japanese is not the narrator of the story, only Emika.  A friend recommended Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee but I’m not sure.

A  Book with a Native American Narrator Sadly, I’m not sure.  Sherman Alexie’s books? Has anyone read Alyson Noel’s Soul Seekers series?

A Book with an Indigenous Mexican Narrator I’m even more loss on this one.  I thought for a second about All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater but by the beginning of the story, the Soria’s have lived in Colorado for over a century and the story is more about the family now then their pasts.  So any suggestions?

I’m open to anything.  Fiction, Non-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance. Whatever you got I’m up for it.  Leave your suggestions in the comments below or hit me up on our Twitter @StacksXLiveX and Facebook

Quick Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

warcross This was a lot of fun to read and I really want to play Warcross.  Marie Lu or someone make that happen!  Emika Chen is a hacker and bounty hunter.  Her father died when she was eleven and learned how to hack while in foster care.  She admires Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross because he created Warcross when he was younger then she was and now at 21 owns his own company and a billionaire.  Emika’s life is not going so well.  She has less then $13 to her name and is facing eviction due to being 3 months behind in rent.  In a moment of desperation she hacked in during the opening ceremony of the Warcross Championships.  The next day she is on a plane to Tokyo and is hired by Hideo to track down a hacker named Zero.   Emika goes under cover as a player in the games so she can track down Zero and figure out who he is and what he is trying to do.  Emika is smart and quickly figures out that one of her own teammates is working with Zero.  She tells her findings to Hideo and because this is a YA novel, sparks fly because again YA novel, Hideo is hot!  I figured out who Zero was about halfway through the books but the beauty of it, it didn’t spoil the ending.  There are secrets in the game of Warcross that no matter how much a character opens up, we still don’t know all the facts.  This book was fast paced and full of twists and turns.  I do hope that in the next book that we get to know more about Emika’s teammates Asher, Roshan, Hammy and Ren because I feel like we just scratched the surface of who they are.  I’m really interested in seeing where Emika goes now that she knows the truth of what happened but is not really sure that it’s truly a bad thing.  I don’t want to say too much because it will spoil the ending but it will start some conversations.  So yes, go read it.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.