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.
This is a story of how people deal with abuse. No seriously. Yes, they are mostly fairies and there is magic and takes place in a land full of both of those things but deep down it’s about the effects of abuse and how we deal with it. Almost every character has suffered some kind of abuse one way or another. In A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book of the series, I talked about Feyre’s recovery from not only what happened to her at the end of the first book but emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of Tamlin but Feyre’s not the only one. Maybe one of the reasons why she and Rhys get along so well, besides that they are mates, is because he also has been abused. Mor, Cassian, and Azriel all have suffered through emotional, physical and sexual abuse. They all continue to deal the invisible scars left from it. On the outside they seem okay but in private with each other, they can share their pain. It’s this reason that this series is important because it doesn’t shy away from these uncomfortable topics but faces them head on. We struggle through them as the characters struggle with them. I also think that is why I love Rhys so much. This is a guy who would do anything for his family, his friends. Submit himself to such tortures. Allow the world to see him as a monster. All to protect his people but he still came out of with hope for a better future. He took Feyre in knowing she was his mate but never pushed her. Never forced it on her because he knew what she was going through. Knew the pain that she was feeling. Knew how important choices are and never wanted to take that away from her or anyone. The compassion he shows to Feyre, Mor, Cassian, Azriel and to his people is remarkable.
As for the book itself, it is possible to love a series and book but also not really like it. I experience that with the first book, A Court of Thorns and Roses. I originally felt it was too long and should have ended long before it did or at least be split in two books. It wasn’t until I read the sequel did I understand what I really didn’t like about it and why it was written the way that it was. A Court of Wings and Ruin, I thought it had the opposite problem. It started off slowly for me and really didn’t pick up until more then halfway through. I felt there was a lot of unnecessary maneuvering as they prepared for war with Hybern. I will admit that in the end all of that turned out to be important to the finale of the book but it felt tedious at times. However, when it got it groove back, it was unstoppable. It one epic battle at the end and it also brought us more of Feyre’s sister, Nesta, who is the Ice Queen we have always wanted but didn’t know. The ending felt more like a ending of a series then a transition to the next book. It definitely tied up some loose ends but there are enough left for another book but I just not seeing how there could be a bigger threat then Hybern. I guess I will have to read the next book to find out.
The month of May has a lot of great new books coming out and of course I’m already behind in my to-read list. Sigh. Anyway, here’s a list a few books that I’m definitely going to try to get to in May. Let’s see how I’ll do.
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?
After 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.
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.
So I haven’t been reading as much lately because well life and Gilmore Girls. I’ve recently just finished watching all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls. I know it’s weird it’s taken me this long to watch the show but what better time to do it then right before the new season, right? Anyway, while I was binge watching several books have come out and now I’m hopelessly behind. I’m still reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. I have waiting in the wings.
The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan just came out. The latest in his Magnus Chase series with Norse gods. Then there’s Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo the sequel to Six of Crows. And then The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Also The Midnight Star by Marie Lu the finale of The Young Elites Trilogy.
I have also recently picked up The Swan Riders by Erin Bow, the sequel to Scorpion Rules. I had no idea there was a sequel so I’m super excited for that. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin are two books that were impulse buys. I have so much to read but what else is new.
I think I know what I really didn’t like about the last half of A Court of Thorns and Roses. The first half I liked but I felt that that second half was like a whole other book that just dragged. After reading A Court of Mist and Fury I think what I really bothered me was that deep down, I knew Tamlin wasn’t worth Feyre going through all the trials and tortures. He may have loved her but not truly and that was only more evident as he allowed her to fade away while he tried to rebuild his court. I get wanting to let things settle but she was clearly unhappy. Unable to sleep through the night and he did nothing but promise once things settle down things will be better. And worst of all trapped her in his home after she was trapped Under the Mountain. When you compare Tamlin to Rhys, you can see how truly unworthy Tamlin is. Rhys is not just in love with Feyre. He understands her. He is her equal. Rhys would have been a worthy person for Feyre to go through the trials and torture.
I’ve talked about how YA novels have treats PTSD or getting over traumatic experiences. It’s infuriating how often they ignore it or have or other characters don’t acknowledge that the hero or heroine is suffering by making them feel worst for not getting over it fast enough. Here we have two different reactions to Feyre’s ordeal Under the Mountain. Tamlin seems so consumed with his own pain of what happened to him that he doesn’t see Feyre is wasting away right in front of him. He’s too afraid of losing her again that he keeps her locked up and it’s stifling her to a point that she can’t recover.from her own trauma. Rhys gives Feyre time to heal. He gives her space and pushes her only when he needs too. He encourages her to learn to read and to test out her new powers. He does have the benefit of being connected to her through their bargain but he also has the power to read people’s minds. He introduces her to his friends and lets her in on his plans and decision making. It’s exactly what Feyre needs. It gives her not only time to recover from what happened to her but understand that the relationship with Tamlin was flawed and in the end unhealthy. Of course, it also gives her time to realize that she is not only well suited for Rhys but is in love with him. So to go back to my original point. Tamlin wasn’t worth the torture that Feyre went through but it was for her to get to know Rhys though. I’m glad I decided to read this book after only being so-so with the last one.