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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The final book in the Front Lines trilogy was fitting ending for all three of our heroines. The alternate history re-imagined World War Two if women had been allowed to serve and be drafted into the Military. Rio, Frangie and Rainey all enlisted as the US was on the brink of joining the war. Throughout the trilogy we have followed Frangie, Rio and Rainey through basic training, northern Africa and Italy all while trying to figure out who they are how they fit in in this new world. Does being a soldier make them any less feminine? And what future do they have to look forward to after the war is over. At the end of the last book, they were all awarded Silver Stars for their bravery in Italy. If they thought winning a Silver Star would make their lives as soldiers, they were mistaken. In some cases it only made their mostly male soldiers resent them even more. Rio’s hometown sweetheart, struggles to deal with the fact he had to be rescued by his girl and she gets rewarded for it. The gender roles have been reversed and he can’t deal with it. Our Soldier Girls are preparing for the D-Day invasion to open the final book. With it comes all the blood and carnage that we come to expect from years of seeing this battle depicted on the big screen. As the girls progress from Normandy to Paris to Battle of the Bulge in Belgium to finally Germany. They are faced with hardships and hard decisions as they continue to face the cruel reality of war. They are fighting a war against the Nazis about also about the sexism and racism in the Military. It truly speaks to what women face today. I have to wonder what our country would be like if women had been able to serve in World War Two. How would our world be different and how much would it be the same? It sort of get the sense that Michael Grant doesn’t seem to think that history would have changed all that much but also could be my own cynicism. Anyway, it was a good series full of great characters and an interesting ideas. I’m glad I read it but I can’t help but wonder what if there were stories of real soldier girls that could be told.
There are lots of good books coming out. March is going to be crazy with new releases!!
Purple Hearts by Michael Grant (January 30)-The final book in the Soldier Girls Trilogy. Will Frangie, Rio and Rainey survive the end of the war? Who has the narrator been this whole time?
Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes (February 6)-Another series ender. The Falling Kingdom Series has had so many twists and turns that it’s hard to predict how this one will end and who will live? The body count this high, it’s amazing we have so many still alive.
Tiger’s Dream by Collen Houck(March 20)-The long awaited final book in the Tiger’s Saga. It’s been four years since we last we heard from Kelsey and her tigers. One was left behind in the past but it’s not like thousands years apart can keep them away from each other long.
I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman (March 27)-One of the best contemporary writers out there. She’s not afraid to tackle tough issues and this doesn’t look to be anything different.
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.
A Book with a Trans Narrator: Eddie Izzard in Believe Meby Eddie Izzard
We are now halfway through June so I can accurately say we are halfway through the year. It’s time to check in and see how we are doing with our reading challenges. This year we decided to split up our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge into two different. One for authors and one for narrators. I’m doing the Narrators and I have to say, I’m doing pretty well. Now, I think there may be a few arguments over some of my books but who doesn’t love a good debate? Going off my list of the books I’ve read, I discovered that there were a few things we should have discussed before setting the challenge out. For instance, can you use the same book for different categories if they have more then one Narrator? I’m going to go with yes because you are getting different perspectives from different characters. So here we go.
Book with a Queer Narrator: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan. Narrator: Apollo. Ok, so this maybe a stretch because as Kate asked me Can we apply modern categories of sexuality to ancient Gods? Well I don’t know, but in The Dark Prophecy, Apollo is currently exiled to Earth as a mortal and while being on Earth has shown equal interest in both Men and Women. So, in the context of the book, I’m counting it.
Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
Book with characters from various socio-economic backgroundsSilver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jeanby Jenny Han and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Narrators: Lara Jean and Daniel. I decided to count both since they are both Asian Americans but they have very different perspectives on growing up in America. Lara Jean is definitely your more typical middle class teenage girl who grew up in the suburbs. She’s also mixed because of her Dad is white so she straddles both sides. Daniel grew up in New York City and is the son of two immigrant parents. (I thought about using Natasha from The Sun is also a Star as my African American Narrator but technically speaking she’s not American as her family was living in the US illegally)
Book with a Narrator who has survived abuse: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Narrator : Feyre. I really could have picked any character in this book but since it’s all from Feyre’s point of view she gets the top billing.
A Book with a Mexican Narrator: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Narrator: Cristina. I admit I maybe stretching it a little thin with this one. Cristina is one of six narrators in Lord of Shadows and not one of the two main characters but she is an important to the story as a whole so for now I’m counting it but it might change before the year is out.
In the second book of Michael Grant’s Soldier Girls series, Rio, Frangie and Rainey have survived their first battle in Africa but the war isn’t over as the focus now turns to Italy. Each of them have to deal with the reality of what they have done and what they will be asked to do in the future. They all have been asked to do things that they never thought they would have to do even though they knew they would be going into war. It’s interesting how each of the our three heroines deal with their emotions but also how the adversity makes each of them stronger. The narrator is still unknown though there are some pretty strong hints a to who it.
This book may take place during World War 2 in an alternative history but it is very much relevant today. We are still debating the place of women in our Military. We are still dealing with racism and yes you could even say we are fighting against a potential fascism regime. Rio, Frangie and Rainey are just normal girls who all signed up for the Army for different reasons but the one thing that they have in common is that when they are needed they step up and do what’s right. They all fight their own internal prejudices but as the book goes on you can see them all face it and realize how wrong they have been. It’s not an overnight revelation or anything but you can see the walls coming down. All three are very brave not just because they are fighting a war or stepping when needed and going above and beyond the call of duty. They are brave because they are also not shying away from themselves and the sometime uncomfortable truths about themselves. I hope that when people read this, particularly the younger readers get that too. We all have to be brave enough to face the challenges ahead of us but also in ourselves too. I’m not sure if this a trilogy or if there are more books to come after the next one. As of right now, we have made it to 1944, days before the Battle of the Bulge. World War Two is in it’s final year and I’m very interested to see how our Soldier Girls go from here.
So 2016 is almost over. Thank God or Oh No. Who knows what 2017 will bring but we do know it will bring plenty of good books. Here are 10 I’m really looking forward too.
Pyromanticby Lish McBride. – I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this one and it was everything I hoped it would. I can’t wait for it to come out in March so I can read again.
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas – The second book was one of my favorite books of this year and the way it ended makes me even more excited for it. Feyre is back in the Spring Court with Tamlin but this time she knows who she is and who he really is.
Always and Forever, Lara Jeanby Jenny Han – I didn’t even know this was even in the works when I read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and it’s sequel P.S. I Still Love You earlier this year. I found the two books to be very charming and sweet. I loved Lara Jean and Peter and I thought their story was over but I guess not. I’m still holding out for Kitty novel.
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon – This is another book I got an early look at and for all of you still waiting, it’ll be worth it. I’m going to re-read The Bone Season and The Mime-Order again before this one comes out.
King’s Cageby Victoria Aveyard – Mare gave herself up to Maven and who knows what that sadistic bastard has planned for her. Will Cal save her or will she save herself? Will Farley forgive her? The rebellion continues
Carve the Markby Veronica Roth – This Veronica’s first book since the Divergent series ended. No matter how you felt about Allegiant you have to admit that Roth is one brave storyteller.
Strange the Dreamerby Laini Taylor – If her last series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, is anything to go by this one is going to be a real crowd pleaser!
The Ship of the Deadand The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan – Rick Riordan has been on a winning streak lately with both his Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard and The Trials of Apollo series’. Not only are they imaginative they are truly fun. Riordan hasn’t been afraid to take on tough subjects and bring a diverse cast of characters to his books and make them both relatable and accessible. It’s going to be a busy year for Percy Jackson.
Silver Starsby Michael Grant – In this revisionist history story we met three brave women who are fighting in World War 2. The end of the last book saw our three heroines have all survived their first battle but the war is still a few years from ending. There are more battles to be fought before our heroines get to go home.
What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?
So how would World War Two be different if women could have been drafted or enlist in the military? From what I can tell, not that much? Obviously I don’t know what it was like from personal experience but basing on other books and movies I have read, the experiences of Rio, Frangie, Jenou and Rainey didn’t seem all that different. To say, war is awful. Though maybe it was a little harder for the ladies, as they had to endure sexiest comments about how woman do not belong in the military. Even worse for Frangie, who had deal with the racist along with the sexist. I would think what our heroines deal with was pretty much the same things as women in the military still face. I’m thinking about the all the comments and criticism I read about the first women to train to be Army Rangers, recently. “Women can’t handle the pressure.” ” They are not physically strong enough”.”How will they handle combat?” “The Military is just not the place for women.” Front Lines may be a work of fiction that takes place 70 years ago but it could easily be written about today. I studied history in school and it’s what my B.A. is in. The one thing that I always found fascinating about history is that you can study something in the past and can make direct correlation with what is going on in today’s world. Basically, Human Being’s don’t learn from the mistakes. We do the same things over and over again. Just look at our election and how we are fighting over issues of Civil Rights.
But back to the book. It’s 1942, the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor and America is going to war. A few years earlier, the Supreme Court had ruled it was unconstitutional for only men be eligible for the draft, women had to as well. (This has also come up in the campaign about whether or not women should be eligible for the draft) Rio has just finished having breakfast with her family when news comes that her sister, who enlisted in the Navy has died when her boat was attacked by the Japanese. A few weeks later, her best friend Jenou says she is going to enlist so she ca get out of their small California town and meet some cut officers. Rio decides she wants to do something else with her life before she gets married and have kids. Elsewhere in Oklahoma, Frangie decides that the money from enlisting and being in the Army will be enough to keep her family from being destitute and in New York, Rainey has already gone through basic training and now going for special training for Army intelligence. We follow all their progress though boot camp to actual theater of war. Frangie is the only who really thinks she will be in the war since she plans on being a Medic but the rest see themselves as secretaries or drivers, away from the front lines. Women may enlist and can be drafted but they US Military isn’t really going to send them to war, right? Of course they all end up there eventually. They trained along with the men, though still separated by race. As one character puts it “only America would go to war against a white supremacist with a segregated army” (not exact quote, I paraphrased) Rio and Jenou have mixed results during basic training. Rio finds that she actually enjoyed it and is a good shooter. The girls all struggle with what it is to be a soldier and a woman. Now that they have been trained to be soldiers, how are they supposed to act as women. Will Men like that they have more muscle now? Should they act more demure? In battle, are they still supposed to act ladylike while the enemy is shooting at them? Once they get to the front lines, they still have to prove they belong even to the male soldiers that they trained with back in boot camp. For Frangie, who is now a medic has to deal with being called a Nigra as she’s patching up soldiers and attempting to save their lives. And Rainey is stuck being a secretary while male soldiers not as qualified as her get called into meetings and missions. It never ends. It was a fascinating read that got more interesting once our girls finally got to war. The second half of the book only covers one battle, their first battle. It proves that they had no idea what they were getting themselves into the . The romance of war quickly dissolved into the reality. They all have done something that they will remember for the rest of their life and you know it will haunt them. I’m curious how that will play out in the upcoming books. We saw glimpses of what is to come for them but it’s still only 1943 and their are two more years left and I think 2 more books to go.