Sarah Rees Brennan is an author I adore. So it saddens me to hear that she has cancer. She has Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is treatable but still cancer. Yesterday, she made a diagnosis known in a very touching and funny post on Tumblr. I do recommend you read it. In attempt to send positive healing vibes out there for Sarah, here a links to some of my past blog posts about her books. I hope she sees the love and that you dear readers, give her books a chance.
If you have read A Tale of Two Cities then you pretty much know the plot of Tell the Wind and Fire. The title itself is a quote from the Dicken’s classic. Instead of it taking place in London and Paris during the French Revolution, it takes place in New York City that has been split in two. Manhattan is home to the elite, light magicians while Brooklyn (and I assume the other boroughs but it’s not made clear) is home to the lowly Dark magicians. Lucie Manette is a light magician who as born and bred in the dark city but after her mother has gone missing and her father is falsely imprisoned, she stages a stunt that goes viral and gets her father released and them passes to live in the light city. She falls in love with Ethan Stryker (our Charles Darney stand-in) the nephew of the powerful Mark Stryker and head of the light council. One day after a short getaway, Ethan is accused of treason because he has been positively identified as passing information to the Sans Merci, the rebels in the Dark City. He is about to be executed when Carwyn steps out. Carwyn doesn’t just look like Ethan in the way that Sydney Carton does to Charles Darney but he is exact copy of Ethan. He is an doppelganger. In this world, Light magicians can hire a dark magician to make a doppelganger when they are sick and it will save their lives. There are many laws against doing it and even more against doppelgangers themselves. For instance they have to where a hood. Well, Ethan can’t be executed now because what if it was Carwyn who committed the crime? This sets in motion the rest of the story. As I said before, if you know A Tale of Two Cities, you can guess what’s going to happen and more importantly how it’s going to end but that’s not the point. Sarah Rees Brennan creates a world that is both familiar and not. Many landmark will bring up memories but presenting a darker light. On a personal level, Green-Wood Cemetery, which takes the place of the Bastille, is only a few blocks from where I live. I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at the same way again. Lucie, on the surface seems like a timid girl, who wants nothing more then to everything she can to save the people she loves. That in itself takes a bit of bravery. As the story progressives and things start to take shape, she starts to stand up more for herself. Ethan is your typical hero character, the golden boy and Carwyn, the misunderstood bad boy but of course nothing is at seems. I think for fans of Dicken’s will like it and fans of Brennan will like it too.
A Tale of Two Cities but with magic.
For the last 10 months, Cassandra Clare, Robin Wasserman, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan have been treating us with Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy. A set of short stories that follows one of Clare’s heroes, Simon Lewis, as he tries to learn how to be a Shadowhunter. I wrote about it a little but after the first book, Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy, came out. This week marked the release of the tenth and final story in the series. For those who are not familiar with Simon or Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, let me catch you up. *Spoilers* When we first met Simon in City of Bones he was just a normal teenage boy in love with his best friend Clary. Throughout the series, he goes from normal boy to normal boy among supernaturals beings to becoming a supernatural being himself, a Vampire, saving the world and then returning to a normal teenage boy with no memory of the supernatural world or his friends. That is where we are now. Simon, has been once again become aware that vampire, werewolves, warlocks, fairies and Shadowhunters exist. After the wars of the two Mortal Instruments books are over, the Shadowhunters are depleted in numbers so they have reopened their academy and invited children of Shadowhunters as well as a few Mundanes to Ascend and join their ranks. That is what Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy is about. In 10 shorts stories, we follow Simon and his fellow students as they learn how to fight like a Shadowhunter and how to be like a Shadowhunter. Special appearances from other characters from the Mortal Instruments as well as Clare’s other series, The Infernal Devices and upcoming series’ The Dark Artifaces and The Last hours, we learn more about the history of the Shadowhunters but also clues into what to expect in her new series. It’s really just a good excuse to fill in a few gaps between the end of The Mortal Instruments and beginning of The Dark Artifaces. Also to give Clare’s readers something to read since the last book, City of Heavenly Fire came out last year and Lady Midnight doesn’t come out until Spring of next year. However, I don’t think you are going to hear much complaining from fans. They were fun, quick reads that give more insights to how the Clave, who govern Shadowhunters work, also gave us more time to hang out with one my favorite characters, Simon. As expected with a collection like this not all the stories were good. I felt some they didn’t know what to they put together a quick story with a couple of fan favorites and call it a day but others I felt were worth it. One story I liked a lot was Bitter of Tongue. In it, Simon is kidnapped by fairies and is saved by Mark Blackthorn, who has been stuck with faries since the last book. Mark, who is half Shadowhunter and half fairy and because of this and what happened in the last war, the Shadowhunters have left him there and banished his sister, Helen to exile. When Simon comes back he goes to Helen’s wedding. It’s a heartbreaking story as they are being punished for no other reason then an accident of both. Truly relevant to what is going on in the world. It also gives Simon more motivation to become a Shadowhunter and make a change from the inside. You can buy all 10 stories individually as ebooks or you can wait until next year where they will be combined together but for fans for Clare’s work it’s a must.
While reading Scarlett Undercover (which I’m enjoying very much) I was reminded of another great series, The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan. These books are similar to Scarlett Undercover in that they have a Nancy Drew feel with a Person of Color heroine. That’s where the similarities end though. The heroine Kami Glass wants to be a journalist, so she sets up a school newspaper to cover all the hard hitting news in her small village Sorry-in-the-Vale.
In this story of Gothic tale meets Nancy Drew, Kami already stands out in her small English village because she is half Japanese. But, to make matters worse she also has a peculiar habit of talking to the voice in her head. This voice belongs to Jared who is a real person. They are each other’s best friends and confidantes. Both of them have no doubt the other exists but no one believes her about Jared so the other kids just think she is crazy. But, that was in the past and thank goodness Kami has someone who knows she’s not crazy. Angela, Her friend who moved from London, just wants to nap. Anyway, back to the school newspaper. The biggest story in Sorry-in-the-Vale is the return of the Lynburns. The family that ruled over the village for years. Over a decade ago, the family mysteriously left their mansion without a word but they are now back. The village is on edge and Kami is determined to figure out the reason for the Lynburn’s return. Not to mention there are a lot of weird things going on. Things get a little complicated when Kami meets Ash Lynburn and even more complicated when she meets Jared Lynburn. You know, Jared. The voice in her head in the flesh. Kami always knew that Jared was real but meeting him is so unexpected. Of course, things heat up and get crazy in town. Soon Kami, Angela, Angela’s brother Rusty, their friend Holly, Ash and Jared begin to investigate a murder of a schoolmate and the history of the Lynburn family and the town.
Kami is beyond likable. She’s amazing. She’s smart, funny, clever, loyal and stubborn. She will stop at nothing to find the truth and help her family and friends. Her friends are loyal and there for her all the way. They bring all of their skills together to solve the mysterious happenings of their village. Kami and Angela’s friendship is really beautiful. They are truly different people but they love and respect each other and are always there for each other. Friendships like this between two girls isn’t often depicted in YA Novel. In so many stories and like so many movies, girls are seen more as rivals than friends. So it’s always refreshing to see girls being just girls.
There is so much more to say love about this series. There was so much to love. I didn’t even talk about the Sorcerers and Kami’s family. She may have the best father in a YA novel ever. All I’ll say is that you have to read them. You won’t regret it.
In an older post, I talked about the trend of YA authors who write novellas as an add on to their series. Last year Cassandra Clare took it to a whole another level with The Bane Chronicles. With the help of fellow authors Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson. Clare wrote a series of ten novellas about everyone favorite Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane. Over the 10 stories, they wrote about Magnus’ past that is often hinted out in both of Clare’s The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series. It was fun to read about Magnus adventures before he met Tessa, Will, Jem and later Clary, Jace and Alec. Of course the series also served as a introducing characters of upcoming series and fill in gaps between series as well.
This year she is doing the same thing but with another fan favorite, Simon Lewis in the Tales from Shadowhunter Academy. This time she is joined again by Breenan and Johnson and also Robin Wasserman. Now the following is sort of a spoiler to those who have not finished City of Heavenly Fire, the last book in the The Mortal Instruments series. Simon is attending the newly reopened Shadowhunter Academy as the Clave tries to add new Shadowhunters to their numbers after the loss of life in the last war. Those who have finished City of Heavenly Fire will know why Simon can attend the academy in hopes of becoming a Shadowhunter himself and for those who haven’t finished will want to before reading. Personally, I thought the last three books of The Mortal Instruments were three too many but I am looking forward to several Simon centric stories since he was easily my favorite character from that series. Also it gives us something to read while we wait for Clare’s next shadowhunter series, The Dark Artifaces about Shadowhunters in LA.
Kate has already posted her list. We have some of the same books in common but unlike my sister, I don’t have any qualms about reading only fiction and mostly teen fiction. There are a few non-fiction novels I do want to read. I’m quite interested in the Secret History of Wonder Woman. I’ll get to it eventually. Anyway, this is about what I read this year so let’s get on with it. I omitted a few books from contention because I read them as ARCs and they have not been released yet. That will have to be a post for another day.
1.Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.
I love her. I might have mentioned that before but I really do love Maggie’s writing style. Blue Lily Lily Blue is the third book of her The Raven Cycle. The search for the Welsh King, Glendower, is back with more earnest as Blue’s Mom, Maura has gone missing. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah all have grown up so much in the last three books and yet, if we know anything about Maggie, they have so much to learn before the series ends in the next book.
2.The Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
I’m going to miss Percy, Annabeth, Nico, Leo, Hazel, Frank and Reina. I’ll even miss Jason and Piper too. They both did grow on me. I thought it was a fitting ending for a great series. As a team, the Heroes came together, defeated the Giants and brought the Greeks and Romans together. They all got a happy ending and there was a little bit of opening for some to return in Rick’s next series.
3. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
This was such a satisfying book. Georgie McCool is a TV screenwriter on a crappy show but she and her writing partner finally have a chance to get their own show going. The problem is they have to write six episodes over Christmas, meaning Georgie has to stay in LA, while her family goes to Omaha. Georgie’s marriage is already on thin ice; can it survive this? While spending the night in her old room at her Mom’s house, she plugs in her old landline phone and magically calls her husband Neal in the past. It soulds fantastical but it is based in the real world. Rainbow has such a way of creating characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and want to be friends with.
4. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
In a revision of history, after the blood fever in the middle ages, the children who survived are left with scars. Some were left with mysterious powers. They call themselves the Young Elite. Adelina is one of them. The blood fever left her disfigured with a scar over her left eye. She has been shunned and abused by her father and when her powers surfaced, she’s a danger to herself and everyone else. Marie creates a world with so much atmosphere that it was easy to get lost in it. Adelina, is filled with anger about how she is treated; you feel that it’s valid. There are so many other layers of intrigue and one shocking ending, that the next book can not come too soon.
5. Cress by Marissa Meyer
I really do love the Lunar Chronicles. A retelling of fairy tales with an alien twist. I think they are really clever and the characters are so likable. Cress is a take on Rapunzel. She is a lunar and is hidden away in a satelite so she can spy on Earth for Queen Levana. She is rescued from her prison but of course things don’t go as planned. She and Throne crash land in the desert. Cinder seeks the doctors help for wolf, who is injured and Scarlet is captured by the Lunars. Oh, and they only have a few days to stop Prince Kai from marrying Queen Levana. I’m kind of mad that I have to wait until October or November for Winter, the final book but I’m sure it will be worth the wait.
6. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
In the final book of the Grisha Trilogy, the Darkling has taken over Ravka and only Alina, the Sun Summoner can stop him. I feel in the past, I have been too hard on Alina, especially how she treated Mal in the last book. It really started to get me to think how far more critical we are on female characters then we are of male. Alina, is a young girl who discovers she has a frightening power that can save them or destroy them. It is a lot to take in. She needed someone to understand and for a while, the Darkling was really the only one who could or so she thought. It is a fitting ending to a dark series. I felt like all the stories were wrapped up right and they all found some kind of peace.
7. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
Part Gothic Novel, part Nancy Drew. Not your usual combination but it worked for the whole trilogy. It was funny, scary and heartbreaking without missing a beat. It was also one of the rare YA novels that not all of the main characters get a happy ending. I sometimes feel that authors feel they have to keep them alive or they will upset their readers but lets be honest. That’s not realistic. How many near death experiences can one character live through? Kami is smart, resourceful and brave and really someone I would love to be friends with. I’m going to miss this series but I am happy with how it ended.
8. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Yet another conclusion to a fantastic Trilogy. Excluding the last half of the first book, this series grabbed me and never let me go. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking. The sacrifices that had to be made were real gut punchers but necessary. In the end Karou and Akiva achieved what they set out to do and a surprising relationship for Liraz was perfect.
9. Firebug by Lish McBride
Firebug doesn’t have the clever names as Lish’s other books but has the sense of humor and urgency. Set in the same world as Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone (see what I mean about those titles) but in Maine and not Seattle. Ava is a firebug, a rare gift. She is forced to work for the Coterie, a magical mafia. When she refuses to kill a family friend, she and her team, Locke, a dryad, and Ezra, a werefox, go on the run. It really is funny. Lish has such a great sense of humor that comes out in such surprising ways. I can’t wait for the next one.
10. Raging Starr by Moira Young
Apparently 2014 was the year to end trilogies. This is the last book in the Dust Lands series. A dystopian series that goes beyond what the Hunger Games did. Miss Young has no problems killing off characters or being seduced. Saba has found her brother and reunited with Jack and is now ready to take down DeMalo. The problem is that Saba does not disagree entirely with what DeMalo is trying to do. Maybe not with how he is going about it and it puts her in direct conflict with both Jack and her brother, Lugh. I really had no idea where this series was going to take me and it was quite a ride.
Books I loved so much, that I read the whole series:
A Song of Ice and Fire aka A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Ok so I technically haven’t finished all the books that are out. I just started A Dance of Dragons. Also, I did take a 8-month hiatus to watch the series and then read other things but I do love this series. It’s so rich and challenging. So many characters and places and plots. How does he keep them all straight?
Obsidian, Onyx, Opal, Origin and Opposition. The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Daemon is a jerk and I love him for it. He is also loyal and will do anything for his family and the ones he loves. So the jerk with a heart of gold. Obsidian got me hooked and well, I immediately bought the other books. Were they the best books I’ve read this year. No but damn, they were entertaining.
Legend, Prodigy and Champions by Marie Lu
I’ve been wanting to read these for a while and finally gave in and I’m glad. June and Day are perfectly matched heroes, The ending was bittersweet but it did leave us with some hope.
Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Sometimes you just need a couple of good romances. It’s really not a series but three companion novels that happen to have overlapping characters. Anna is a new girl in an American high school in Paris, who falls for the charming St. Clair. Lola is a girl who knows exactly what she wants, except when it comes to Cricket, who lives next door and Isla has been in love with Josh, all for years of school but was to shy to do anything about it until a chance meeting over the summer. Isla is my favorite with Anna close second. Lola is ok but I just didn’t relate to her as much as the other two. If you are looking for a sweet story with a lot of heart, you couldn’t do much better then these three.
Etiquette and Espoinage, Curtsies and Conspiraces, and Waistcoasts and Weaponry. The Finishing Series by Gail Carriger
Sophronia is a handful for her mother. Always getting into trouble so when she is accepted into a prestigious finishing school, she’s sent packing. However, this is no ordinary finishing school. Not only do they teach the finer points of being a lady, they also teach the best ways to hide weapons in your skirts and what is the best poison to use. All for Queen and Country, of course. This steampunk look at Victorian Englad is full of humor that I did literally laugh out loud.