Quick Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

my lady jane To say this book was delightful would be an understatement. Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows blends the perfect mixture of fantasy and fiction with history.  History will tell you that Lady Jane Grey was the Queen of England for nine days before Queen Mary took the throne and beheaded her.  Well, not in this book.  Lady Jane Grey was the cousin to King Edward, the son of King Henry VIII.  She was named the successor to King Edward because Mary was too Catholic and Elizabeth was a wild card.  Edward’s advisors were afraid that either one of his sisters would take England back to the Catholic church and away for the recently established Church in England.  Well, in this account the fight is over religion but over magic.  King Henry was an Edians, or a person who can turn into animals.  Before his rule, those who had this ability were hunted down and burned at the stack by the Verities or those who couldn’t change into animals.  Mary is very much in the Verities, who blamed Edians for the death of her mother.  Jane at first just a pawn in game of thrones but she soon turns the tables on those who try to control her.  This book is very funny, charming and just plain clever.  I often find myself laughing while riding on the train to the annoyance of my fellow riders.  And it’s a real hoot when you find out what animal Jane turns into.  You will not find a more clever book with horse puns anywhere.  So do yourself a favor and go read it.

Happy One Year Anniversary to The Raven King and Maggie Stiefvater!

April 2016 was our most successful month page views wise.  We had 589 views, which beat our previous record of 552 in December 2015. It made me wonder what were we writing about a year ago to get so much traffic.  Well, The Raven Cycle and Maggie Stiefvater.  It’s hard to believe that the The Raven King came out a year ago.  That it has been a year since we found out if Gansey, Blue, Ronan and Adam would find the sleeping Welsh King and If Blue and Gansey would kiss and if Gansey would die.  Those mysteries have been solved.  Thankfully, we know that we haven’t read the last of the Gang as Maggie is working on a trilogy about Ronan. Whee!!!

And we have another Maggie book coming in October.  So we have a lot to look forward to but let’s take a moment, in honor of the 1 year anniversary of the release of The Raven King and the end of the The Raven Cycle, to look at everything we have ever written about the series.

What I’m Listening to Now: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Public Service Announcement

What I’m Thankful for

Cover Reveal: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Books that Rocked My Face off, Part two

Let’s Do Some Reading: Goals for 2015

Cover Reveal: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Discussion Posts: Re-reading series before the new installment comes out

Books that Rocked My Face Off in 2015

What I Can’t Wait to Read in 2016

First Listen of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Countdown to The Raven King!

What I’m ReReading Now: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Observations on The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Observations on The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Observations on Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

My To-Read List for the next month or so

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 1

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 2

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 3

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 4

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 5

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 6

Discussion: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Part 7

What I’m Reading Now: THE RAVEN KING BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER

What I’m Listening to: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Our Top 5 Posts of 2016

My Top 10 Books I read in 2016

Top Eight for 2016!

Th Raven Cycle as a TV Show Yes Please

Quick Review of A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

study-in-charlotte A Study in Charlotte was a very fun read.  It’s new take on the Sherlock Holmes stories.  This time it’s the descendants of Holmes and John Watson.  In this world, the famed detective and his assistant were real.  Watson chronicled Holmes’ cases and well fictionalized them.  The Holmes family continue to solve crimes and being eccentric, while the Watsons continue to be normal.  Here we catch up with the latest generation of Holmes’ and Watson’s when Jaime Watson starts at a new boarding school. Jaime meets Charlotte Holmes, the girl who is full of mystery as anything else. (For some reason I thought Jaime was a girl and I was a little disappointed to find out that he isn’t but I got over it.) There are little sprinklings of the originally stories throughout the novels and the nastiest parts of the stories like Holmes’ drug use.  Charlotte is just as impossible as the original Holmes or Benedict Cumberbatch’s.  Shortly after Holmes and Watson meet a fellow student is murder in a way that is reminiscent of Holmes’ stories.  Of course, they are the prime suspects.  They have to work together to clear their names. They story goes through many twists and turns that will keep you guessing all through the story.  You don’t have to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes to love this book.  You just have to enjoy a good mystery with interesting characters and you’ll be set.

Throne of Glass Novellas by Sarah J. Maas

assassins-bladeAfter I finished reading Empire of Storms, I decided to go back and read the prequel novellas as many of the characters we meet in these stories make appearance and play a role in the final book to come out next year.  It’s very common for authors to publish novellas or short stories in connection with successful series.  Most of the time they have little consequence to the actual narrative of the series themselves.  They are just a fun story about the time before, or another character’s perspective.  The further I got into Empire of Storms and the big reveals starting to come out, I realized that I these novellas were more important then I originally thought.  The end was blending of Aelin’s present with Celaena’s past.  If Aelin is going to defeat Erawan and reclaim her crown in Terrasan she is going to have call in all of Celaena’s favors.  And so I went back and bought all the novellas. The five novella’s The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire tell the story of the months that lead her to be arrested and sent to Endovier where we meet her in the Throne of Glass that starts everything in motion.  All five novellas were collected together and later published under the named The Assassin’s Blade.

The novella’s we see  Celaena in her full Adarlan’s Assassin glory.  She is the most feared assassin in the land and she knows it.  As Arobynn Hamel’s protege she is at the top of her game, when she is sent to the Skull’s bay to meet with Captain Rolfe, the Pirate Lord.  When she finds out that her master is going into the Slave business, she defies him for the first time.  With the help of fellow assassin Sam Cortlandt she not only saves the slaves Arobynn was trading but all the slaves.  All good deeds don’t go unpunished.  She is severely punished and sent to the desert to learn from the Mute Master of the Silent Assassins. Here she meets Ansel of Briarcliff, her first real female friendship and new skills. Upon her return Arobynn gives her a mission that she can’t refuse but it ends up in even bigger betrayal that she pays off her and Sam’s debt’s and leaves Arobynn behind.  Celaena and  Sam have fallen in love and plan to Rithfold behind but not before they do one last job.  This leads to tragedy and ultimately what leads to the beginning of the series.  Caleana’s exploits are alluded too in the earlier books but didn’t really have much to do with the actual plot until our heroes make their way to Skull’s Bay to try to convince Captain Rolfe to join their cause.  Since the last time Aelin was there, she destroyed the docks and ended the very profitable slave trade for the Pirate King.  So, not the best impression to leave on the a possible ally. The Pirate Lord and Ansel have been mentioned before but in passing.  I used to think it was just a wink to not only Celaena’s past but also to all those readers who read the novellas but both Rolfe and Ansel play a pivotable role in Aelin’s plans to win the war. The stories gives us a sense about who Celaena was before the action of the series and how deep the scars run for her.  From the books, we know how complicated her relationship with Arobynn is but since it all happened before the action of the series we didn’t get see how toxic it truly was.  We also get to know Sam. His death is major part of Celaena’s story arc in the first two books.  It’s what haunts her and motivates her to seek out Arobynn for the truth. These are some of the rare series novellas that actually further the series plot and for that for fans of the Throne of Glass series, it’s worth reading all the novellas.

Quick Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

empire-of-storms **Spoilers**

First, can we talk about her badass jacket on the cover? I really want a jacket like that. Anyhoo, at the end of the last book.  The King of Adarlan is dead, killed by Dorian while he was under Erawan’s spell. He broke away from his power but not in time to save Chaol from terrible back injury that we still don’t know the extent of his injuries.  Will he be able to walk again? Is he even still alive? Aelin, has taken her former masters money and has one of the Wyrdkeys and now is heading home to Terrasan with Rowan, Aedion and Lysandra. Manon and her thirteen save Elide from Morath after Kaltain blows up half the mountain not before she gives Elide the second Wyrdkey.  Lorcan, has come to Erilea to get the keys for Maeve. So all the players are in play, well except for Chaol who is MIA and eventually they all meet up to find the lock that will once and for all rid the world of Erawan.  With a book with so many characters it would be easy to lose track of who is who and where they belong in the story but the story lines are woven so seamlessly together that it feels like one story.  Each character has their arc that we have seen true growth in.  Dorian was a sheltered and naive Prince when we first meet him but now he has hardened.  He has experience loss and has find strength in his power.  As he begins to understand his power, he starts to gave more confidence in himself.  They all have grown so much from the first book.  When I think about Throne of Glass it almost feels like a completely different series because they books have gone so far.  As Aelin, Dorian, Aedion and Manon have grown and mature so have the books. They are far more complicated as the characters themselves have become far more complicated.  The most complicated of them all is our former assassin turned Queen, Aelin. She has so much power that she doesn’t even know how powerful she is but one thing that has changed her ability to outsmart her opponents. She always had a plan in motion but I had no idea how long she had been planning her strategy.   Some go as far back as the first and second book.  It’s almost mind blowing about how the dots all are connecting and with one book to go the endgame is in sight.  The ending is pretty devastating but totally worth the pain.  Really looking forward to finding out how this will end.

Series You Should Check Out: Necromancer and Firebug by Lish Mcbride

hold me closerIt’s been awhile since I did one of these. In fact it’s been 5 months.  Oops.  I think it’s about time I did another one, don’t you think?  I can’t think of a better series to welcome back this column then Necromancer and Firebug series’ by Lish McBride.  Really, I can’t believe I have waited this long to write about them.  It’s actually two different series but they take place in the same world, just on opposite coasts.  Necromancer consists of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone. Two of the best book titles in history of literature. I decided to read the first book based on the title alone.  With a title like Hold Me Closer, Necromancer it had to be good right? Firebug at the moment is the only book in it’s series but the sequel, Pyromantic, another great title, comes out in March of next year.  (I hope, I’m pretty sure. It’s released date has been pushed back more then once to my chagrin)  They both take place in the underground world of the supernaturals.  Sam, our hero in Necromancer is a necromancer.  When he is discovered by another Necromancer he brought into a world of werewolves and other supernaturals creatures that he didn’t even know exist but now is in the thick of it.  You’ll think about Seattle in a different way after reading this book.  Ava, our little firebug from Firebug, is forced to work for the Coterie, a magical mafia.  She along with her friends, Lock and Ezra, she must track down creatures of all kinds who are behind in their payments or doing something they are not supposed to.

necromancing the stoneSo why do I like these books so much?  For one thing they are hilarious!  Like laugh out loud funny you just can’t help yourself.  The situations the characters get in are at times so ridiculous and absurd it’s just too funny.  They are also very original. Sure, there are a lot of other books that feature werewolves, ghosts, nymphs and other supernatural beings but nothing is like this.  I’m not sure how to describe the weirdness of these books but they just work.  There is also a realness to them as well.  Sam and Ava are both great protagonists.  They both find themselves in situations that are out of their control but with the help of their friends and their own gumption they find ways out of them.  They both have a little sassiness to them that I love in my characters.  The supporting characters are more then just comic relief or filler but true characters in their own right.

firebugFirebug came out two years ago and I have been waiting (mostly) patiently for Pyromantic to come out.  Like I said earlier, publication has been pushed back a few times because well life I guess.  Lish Mcbride is not just an author but also a bookseller as well.  The biggest secret of the publication world is that just because you have a book published doesn’t mean you are set for life. Most authors don’t live off of their writing.  They have to have day jobs to make ends meet.  Recently Lish started a Patreon page.  If you not familiar with Patreon, it’s sort of a crowd sourcing website for creators and artist.  You can pledge to give so much money a month to an artist and in return you get exclusive material from them.  Lish so far has posted a new short story and read a chapter from Pyromantic. It’s been satisfying so far.  It ties me over until her new book comes out and I also can feel good about supporting an author I love.  It’s a cool way to support artists and all for that.  So before Pyromantic comes out, I suggest you read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, Necromancing the Stone and Firebug and read her public post on patreon page.  You will not be disappointed.

Review: Front Lines by Michael Grant

front lines 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.

Review: Half Lost by Sally Green

Half Lost

I don’t even know where to begin with this review.  After finishing this book I said this on Twitter.

So yeah.  That ending.  I can’t say what it is because that would be an obvious spoiler but damn.  I’m still in tears thinking about it.  This series has been very surprising.  Sally Green did not hold back in the finally. It was chaotic and tense and painful.  I’m heartbroken for so many characters, Nathan and particular.  He is a boy who his whole life has been told he is bad for because of who he’s father is.  He is not and has never been.  Yes, he has done bad things. Some forgivable and some quite questionable but not a bad person.  He has from a young age been tortured and manipulated.  Used for one groups goals for another.  He had few people who truly cared about him and betrayed by one he truly cared about.  Only to find his true love, his soul mate.  The one person who truly believed in him and that is Gabriel.  I spent most of the first half, hoping that Nathan would look up an see Gabriel for who he really is and see that his love wasn’t just one way.  Gabriel questioned Nathan, he challenged him not because he didn’t believe in him but because he did.  He wanted what was best for Nathan and willing to go along with him no matter what.  It was a beautiful love story.  Nathan is not in a good place at the beginning of book but works his way through.  He may have thrown himself with the Alliance because it was best chance for revenge but by then end he understood that the Alliance was the best way to get his freedom.  As long as Soul and his White Witches continue to rule, he would always be watching his back.  So he does what no one else can.  He leads the fight.  War is hard.  There is always a price and the price Nathan paid may have been too much.  I know it was for me.  I felt a little broken like Nathan was by the end.  The ending was nothing buy heartbreaking and tragic but happy endings don’t always happen in real life either.

Half Lost unexpectedly helping me with my Diverse Lives, Diverse Stacks Reading Challenge by being a book with a Queer Character.  In the previous books, Gabriel’s feelings for Nathan were pretty clear but besides a kiss and some hints in Half Wild I didn’t think that Nathan would return Gabriel’s feelings.  I hope he would.  There was no confusion.  No pronouncement, I am Gay or Bi or Queer.  Just this was the person he wanted to be with and that was it.  I do believe that Nathan did love Annalisse but not in love with her.  She was first person outside his Grandma and siblings that treated him like he could be good or was good and he so desperately wanted but that wasn’t love.  There was nothing fake or forced about his relationship with Gabriel it was true.

Rereading Winter by Marissa Meyer

This is it.  I don’t want to say that this will be the last time I read Winter or The Lunar Chronicles but I am ready to move on.  This was a very lovely series that was just fun to read.  So here we go. My last few observations Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Kai, Throne, Wolf and Jacin.

  1.  I liked all the romances but Scarlet and Wolf’s is the best.  Wolf is torn from his family, forced into the army, his body physically altered and none of this he wanted.  He spent the entire series fighting what was done to him so he could have his own choice.  That he wasn’t just a monster he was made to be and Scarlet saw him.  Maybe from the very beginning when he was just sitting in the tavern, maybe in the fight pit or maybe on the train but she saw HIM and even after everything, that’s all she ever saw.  That’s love.
  2. I do love Throne’s devious plan to prove he’s worthy of Cress’ love.  That my friend is a criminal mastermind.
  3. Winter is adorable.  I’m not sure what I think of Jacin.  He’s still a jerk but he does have his reasons.  If I was raised in the Lunar court I would probably be like that too.  I saw that they both truly cared for each other but I wasn’t quite connected with them as a couple as the others.  Maybe since I only really got one book with them and they spent most of the book apart from each other.
  4. Cinder is amazing.  After everything that she has been through.  She still finds away to be fair to Adri and  Peony when they had never been fair to her.  A lesson we all can learn.  She will make a great leader.  I think that best leaders are the ones who don’t want to but do when needed.
  5. I do hope that she and Kai do stay together
  6. I’ve said this before but I do love the friendship between Cinder and Throne.  He was the first to follow her and to go along with what she wanted and needed.  True at first he thought their would be money involved but he was game for everything.  I think that is what made he final battle that much more powerful.
  7. Levana is a terrible person but she also had a terrible upbringing.  I read Fairest, the prequel, and we find out that she was never shown love from her parents.  Her sister was cruel to her and was responsible for her own burn injuries.  She had always felt inferior and really just wanted to be loved.  She was the second daughter.  The second woman in his husbands life.  Well really the third after Winter.  She was never anyone’s first until she ascended to the throne and only because she manipulated everyone.  I’m not saying any of this excuses her behavior but terrible people are not created in a vacuum.
  8. Whatever Marissa Meyer will write next. I’m totally going to read it.

What did you all love about The Lunar Chronicles?

Quick Review: The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Featured imageI know that Adelina is supposed to be the villain of this story.  The entire marketing campaign has been how this is from the villainess point of view instead of the usual heroine. I agree that’s unique but I’m having hard time seeing Adelina as a villain or “the villain” of this novel.  If anything she is just one of many bad guys in the story.  Teren is out right terrifying.  His obsession and religious furor makes him so certain that his work camps and plans of eradicating all malfettos from Kennetra is the true villain of the story.  I think we are supposed to see the Daggers led by Enzo and Raffaelle as the heroes but they are committing treason by allying themselves to Queen Maeve of Beldain. Maeve is also an elite with the power to bring back the dead.  For this reason she obviously takes much better care of malfettos or survivors of the blood fever but she is also planning on taking over another sovereign nation.  Queen Guiletta is not exactly a saint either but now that she has ascended to the thrown she is making in effort.  She sees how Teren is treating the malfettos and orders they be treated better.  She wants obedience, not revolution.  She knows that the children of many influential people are malfettos and they would not like to see their children poorly treated.  Unfortunately, Teren sees things differently and by the time she realizes how much power she has given him it’s too late.  Could she have been a more effective leader if it wasn’t for Teren?  Most likely.  But back to Adelina.  She was caste out from the Daggers for betraying them, killing Dante and making the mistake that lead to Enzo’s death.  She and her sister Violetta seek out new allies to help her in her revenge against Teren and his inquisitors.  Throughout the book, Adelina experience illusions of people she has killed that and they get worse as the story goes on. She also hears voices and becomes more and more paranoid.  *Spoiler* We learn in the end that the elites powers are turning against them.  They were given powers of the Gods but their human bodies can’t handle it.  Adelina has the power of illusions. Creating images to make people think, see and feel things that are not there.  For her it makes her see her dead father and hear voices and be paranoid.  I couldn’t help but think this sounds like schizophrenia or another mental illness.  Having your villain show signs of mental illness is a little problematic to me.  I’m pretty sure that is not the author’s intent.  As I said, the elites powers are turning against them.  If Adelina had different powers her side effects would be different but her powers and her dark feelings are what makes her a threat.  Also a little problematic is that Adelina is a victim of domestic abuse.  Since she was a child she was beaten and abused by her father.  She lived her life trying to gain the love of a man who hurt her.  When she kills him and finds the Daggers she does what she can to make them like her and to fit in and they turn on her too.  This is an emotionally scarred woman. I’m not saying that what she has done in the last two books are excusable but I also don’t think that labeling her as a villain is accurate either.  If anything, I find myself rooting for her to succeed then any other character in the book.