Top 10 Books I’m Looking forwarded to reading in 2017

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.

pyromantic

  1. Pyromantic by 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by 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. song-rising
  4. 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.
  5. King’s Cage by 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
  6. The Untitled 3rd book of the Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir- This is such an awesome series I can’t say enough great things about it.  Who knows what will happen next as Laia, Elias and Helene take on the Martials.
  7. Carve the Mark by 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.
  8. Strange the Dreamer by 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!
  9. The Ship of the Dead and 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.
  10. Silver Stars by 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?

My Top 10 Books I read in 2016

I will say this about 2016, I read a lot of good books this year.  It was hard to narrow it down to just 10.  So without further ado and in no particular order.

  1. hammer-of-thorHammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – So it was hard to pick between this one and his other book Riordan wrote, The Hidden Oracle, but I choose this one because of the characters.  I love that Rick has added diverse characters to his worlds.  Not to mention his characters get sassier with every book.
  2. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – A cross between historical fiction and dystopian novel.  It’s quite a thrill ride and it left a real cliffhanger as to how the series is going to end.
  3. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – After a so-so first book this one was a real game changer for the series as a hole.  It delved into matters trauma and emotional abuse but still keep the story flowing.
  4. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – It’s Maggie and It’s Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam and Noah.  It’s the perfect ending to a perfect story.
  5. Half LostHalf Lost by Sally Green – It was as beautiful as it was heartbreaking.  Nate didn’t have an easy life and nothing about this book was easy too.  It was very true to life.  It doesn’t always turn out the way you expect and in war there are always painful loses.
  6. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Now this is a fun series.  It’s a dystopian fantasy with X-Men qualities.  Mare is not perfect.  She’s complicated and conflicting but she means well and the writing only gets better with each book.
  7. Pyromantic by Lish McBride – This book doesn’t actually come out until next year so I’ll wait to tell you about it but let’s just say you are going to love it.
  8. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – It’s a crime caper and a fantasy.  You root for the the thieves and the con men to win.  It’s wonderful.
  9. Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson – likable and charming, Kamala Khan is worthy addition to the Avengers.  She proves that it doesn’t matter where you come from and what you believe, you can still be a superhero.
  10. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu – Another great ending to well thought out series.  I may have qualms about who the real villain was but I think it was heartbreaking as it was beautiful.

Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

a-torch-against-the-light This may be one of the strongest sequels I have read in a long time.  There was no drag or filler.  It was non-stop from the very beginning.  The characters are smartly written and interesting to read.  You feel for all of them but for different reasons.  All of their decisions are explainable even if you don’t agree with them.  It is a very good book.  At the end of An Ember in the Ashes, Laia and Elias are escaping Blackcliff and Serra and Helena is now sworn to be the Blood Shrike to the new Empire, Marcus who won the trials.  We begin A Torch Against the Night begins right where it’s predecessor left off.  Laia and Elias on the run with Helena and her men right behind them.  After a run in with Elias’ Mom, the Commandant they finally escape but not without some causalities.  Eventually, they met by Keenan making it an awkward march to save Laia’s brother, Darin.  Who is locked up in the infamous prison named Kauf.  Meanwhile, Helena feels betrayed that Elias didn’t complete the trials forcing her to work for Marcus.  Marcus is cruel and knows exactly what will hurt Helena the most.  Have her track down Elias and bring him back to be executed.  No one knows Elias like Helena does but she is torn between her loyalty to the Empire and her love for Elias.  In the previous book the point of view switched back and forth between Laia and Elias. In this one we also get Helena’s and it’s a welcome view.  We know how Laia and Elias feel but Helena is still loyal and believes in the Empire.  She can see it’s not perfect but she understands how it is structured to keep them safe.  Slowly, she starts to see a little bit of of what they see about they have been saying all along.  Her view gives us a more rounded view of the Empire.  Now it wouldn’t be a YA novel without a romantic intrigue.  The love triangle was already introduced in the last book between Laia, Elias and Keenan.  To me it was pretty obvious who was Laia’s choice but I guess there had to be some mystery.  Elias was always talking Laia up and Keenan was always talking her down but the reveal at the end was a little bit of a surprise.  I figured there had to be something up with one of her suitors but not exactly how I thought it would be.  But enough about romance.  Laia is truly lovely.  She is one determined, brave young lady.  She has been through so much in the last two books but her wanting to save her brother has never wavered.  She’s not the strongest or the fastest but that never stops her from joining the fight or trying to figure out how to help.  Even when her confidence is low, she still fights for what she wants.  She is heroine to be looked up too.  If you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes what are waiting for?  I suggest you do that now so you can read this book too.  You will not regret it.

What I Can’t Wait to Read in 2016

It’s 2016!  Happy New Years!!  A new year means new books!  And we love new books even if they just add to our TBR pile.  So here a 10 books that I’m super excited to read in 2016!

  1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater- The final book in the Raven Cycle and I couldn’t be more excited and dreading at the same time.  It is well documented about how much I love the series and Maggie as an author.  I can’t wait to see what will happen to Blue and the Boys but at the same time not ready to say goodbye.
  2. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – The first book in Rick’s new series The Trials of Apollo is going to be good.  I just know it.  For one thing Percy is back!  That’s really all I need to know.  I also hope it means that Leo is also back and happy and in love with Calypso.  That would be the best.
  3. Untitled by Sarah J. Maas – So the next book in the Throne of Glass series doesn’t have a title but hasn’t dampened my excitement for it.  Aelin has all but declared her intentions and now heading for home.  The real fight for Erilea is abou to get real.
  4. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir –  An Ember in the Ashes was one of the books that I loved the most last year.  A mixture of historical fiction, dystopian and fantasy it was truly something refreshing.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.
  5. The Last Star by Rick Yancey – The final book in the 5th Wave series should be interesting.  The 5th Wave was full and real but the The Infinite Sea was a intriguing but not as entertaining.  Now that we know that who the aliens are and not things are really going to go down.  Not to mention the movie for the first book comes out soon and I’m quite interested to see how it transitions from page to screen.
  6. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – The Red Queen was the other book by a new author in 2015 that I really loved.  The other was Ember in the Ashes.  It was quite a debut.  I can’t wait to see what Mare will do now.
  7. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – It’s been over a year since Cassandra’s last series ended. She has filled the void with her novella series Tales from Shadowhunter Academy it hasn’t been the same.  Now we are moving from New York City to LA with Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorne five years after the end of The Mortal Instruments so of course the world is once again in peril and it’s mostly the Clave’s fault.  I do hope it’s better then the last 3.
  8. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I’ll admit that I was only so so on the first book but I think this series has real potential and I’m willing to give it a go.
  9. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – Magnus and friends stopped Ragarnok from happening at least for now and now he’s going to have help from his cousin Annabeth.  (Annabeth is going to be very busy this year) We know from the last book that Thor lost his hammer and judging by the title that is going to be a major part of this book but he won’t be the only God as we also know that Loki has been pulling strings for a long time. Things should get interesting.
  10. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon – Now I’m not sure if this book is really going to come out this year or not but according to Goodreads, it’s scheduled for 11/3 so *crosses fingers* Paige has taken over the syndicate only to be betrayed by her former boss.  It’s time to start a revolution against Scion but I have a feeling they won’t go down without a fight.

And so many more books I want to read and not to mention try to complete our reading challenges. It’s going to be a busy reading year.  How about you? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Books that Rocked My Face off in 2015

This year it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 books as there were so many books I really loved this year.  So to narrow it down, I had to ask myself which ones was I still thinking about even after I started reading the next book?  Those are ones I choose for the list. (These are really in no particular order

  1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – This book I really wish I read when I was a teenager as so many of the messages I could have really used.  You would almost think that a book about teenage beauty queens stuck on a desert island would be caricatures but they weren’t.  They were very like girls I know or were me.  I could pretty much identify with all of their struggles.  Plus it was a lot of fun.
  2. Winter by Marissa Meyer -I am really going to miss this series so much.  Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter made me laugh, cheer, angry ( on their behalf) and proud of all of them.  Winter was by far the longest book of the series and it was non-stop action.  There wasn’t any filler or time to relax.  It was the perfect ending.
  3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell  – A little bit Harry Potter and a little bit of fanfiction.  It was a great final book to an imaginary series.  I was surprised by many of the twists and turns and touched by the romance.
  4. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – I loved the first book in the series and so I was nervous this one wasn’t going to be as good.  It was better.  Now my only complaint is that she doesn’t write fast enough.
  5. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – It was fun, tense and very interesting.  I thought I knew where things were going and then I didn’t.  I’m looking forward to what lays in store in the next book.
  6. Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – This wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.  It was surprising.  It was fresh.  It had the sassiest A.I. in the history of A.I.’s.  For that reason alone, you all should read it.
  7. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – It was sorta historical fiction with a dystopian vibe and boy did it work.  It was brutal and it was tense but entertaining.
  8. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This was very much an Ocean 11’s style caper with a little bit of a magic and darkness in only the way that Leigh Bardugo could do it.  It’s set in the same world but after the events of her last series but a completely different vibe.
  9. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson – This is the third book in the series so the stakes are so much higher and it didn’t disappoint.  It’s full of humor, action and ghosts.  What else can I say.
  10. The Rose Society by Marie Lu – This is the second book in the series that tells the story from the villainess point of view (though I’m not convinced that Adelina is the real villain but whatever) It was intense and was surprising, maybe a little problematic but worth the read.

There was two books that I enjoyed so much that I read the other books in the that were out in the series this year too.  So I thought they would get their own category.

  1. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas  – For those looking for a Game of Thrones fill in until George publishes the next book, I recommend this.  It  was has all the twists and turns and is not afraid to kill of a character or two.  I’m never really sure where it’s going to take us next but I know it will be well worth the ride.
  2. Talon series by Julie Kagawa – It has a little bit of everything.  A Romeo and Juliet Love, a love triangle, a betrayal and yeah dragons.  Who doesn’t love dragons?  Ok, the idea isn’t that original but I do love it anyway.

What I’m Thankful for 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating today.  In keeping with tradition here at Stacks,  we are going to share what literary things we have been grateful for this year.  I’m going to go first.

I am thankful for my Nook Tablet.  Now this is something that I have never thought I would say.  I bought it because I got a heavy employee discount on it when it first came out but I haven’t used it all that much until this year.  Since leaving B&N, I’ve had to buy more books than I have ever had before.  I much prefer the real deal when it comes to reading but I have to admit the convenience of my Nook has its benefits.  The books themselves are cheaper.  I don’t have to get dressed to the bookstore.  I don’t have to wait for them to be delivered and they take up space in my apartment.  My place is already overrun with books as is.  Plus, my nook is a little easier to read on the train to work because it doesn’t take up as much space.  So thank you, Nook.  You will never fully replace books for me but you have come in handy.

I am thankful for #Weneedmorediversebooks movement.  It has made me aware of my own privilege which I never really thought about.  I’m sure if you look through the books that I read you will noticed that they are mostly all women but you also will noticed that they are also mostly all white.  And their characters are also mostly white as well.  I’ve been trying to be find more authors of color, who are from different backgrounds from me but also look for books with protagonists who are from different cultures.  I’ll admit that I still have work to do but I am trying.  Thank you for Sabaa Tahir, Marie Lu, Julie Kagawa and Nnedi Okorafor just to name a few.  I hope that 2016 will bring new authors and new voices.

I am thankful for book clubs because it forced me to read books that I probably would never have read on my own.  Also, it’s also fun to talk books with friends.

I’m thankful for J.K. Rowling’s twitter.  I’m thankful for her in general but following her on twitter just reaffirms everything I have ever thought about her and that I really want to be her friend.   She’s smart, quick, funny and does not suffer trolls.  She truly is a bright spot on the internet.

And finally I’m thankful for all you reading.  Kate and I started this blog for fun.  A way to keep connected and talk books but I think it’s fair to say it has passed our own expectations.  I thought that maybe a few of our real life friends would read it and comment but to have complete strangers from all over the world, like our blog and leave comments has been so much fun for us.  If it wasn’t for you, I’m not sure that Kate and I would have been as motivated to keep updating the blog.  So with complete sincerity, thank you.

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Featured imageI’ve been looking forward to reading this book for awhile now. I’ve read so many great things about it online but I’m always a little wary, too, when it gets too positive reviews online.  I don’t want to be disappointed, you know?  So I’m happy to say, I think this one lived up to the hype.  An Ember in the Ashes.  I think what has drawn so many people to it is that sort of unique.  It’s a dystopian novel that isn’t really dystopian.  It’s sort of historical fiction but not really. It’s based on Ancient Rome.  Yes, it does have a little bit of a Hunger Games feel to it with it’s fight to the death competition in the middle of the novel but I’m willing to forgive because I feel it serves the purpose of the novel.  The Martials have taken over the empire and enslave people as they go.  One of those newly enslaved peoples are the Scholars.  Laia and her family have tried to stay out of trouble but when her brother is arrested for treason she agrees to become a slave and spy on the evil Commandant (she’s seriously evil) for the resistance.  Elias is the top student and is poised on carrying on his family’s name but he’s looking for a way out.  Their paths collide as they discover they might be exactly who each other needs to get what they want and possibly more.

Laia is an interesting character.  She doesn’t see herself as brave. In fact, she spends a fair amount of the novel chastising herself for being a coward for not saving her brother and for running away.  Despite all her fears and doubts she pushes herself beyond anything in the attempt to save her brother.  She’s strong.  Elias is also interesting.  He has started to question his surroundings and started to realize that he is as much as a slave as Laia is.  He may be an elite soldier but he will always have to do what he is told and live how he is told.  He has no free will.  So he tried to run away but got sucked backed in.  It’s an interesting contrast between the two. One is clearly a slave and has no rights and is abused* and the other may not be called a slave but doesn’t have freedom as you would expect.  Add in some mystic priest, a sadistic school master and a little romance and you will be hooked.  I can’t wait to read what happens next.  Thank goodness there is going to be a sequel.

*Ok, time for a rant.  I’m getting tired of reading books that have the heroine live in constant fear of being raped.  I have read at least five books in which this was a thing.  Yes, for some of the books, it made some sense if you take in to account of setting and time period but it’s getting a little too much.  It reminds me of a post by Maggie Stievfater that is really relevant.   In the middle of Ember in the Ashes, every time Laia left the house she worked for, she had to be on guard or she would be raped by one of the students in the school.  I get it! It’s a threat that women in this time and place of the book, especially slaves (though the other female character also has to guard against her male students, too) have to worry about but do you have to remind us every other chapter?  So authors, can we try to think of other ways to bring tension and raise the stakes for female characters besides them being worried about being sexually assaulted?  Rant over.