2017 is almost at an end. It was quite a challenging year but at least it was filled with a lot of great books. Here are the Top 10 posts that got the most views on Stacks this year. Thank you for all of you stopped by and took a glance at our little corner of the internet.
Quick Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han I’m pleasantly surprised this one came out on top. It got over twice many views as #2 of this list so you all must have loved it. I’ll admit, I had mixed feelings about this novel because as much as I loved Lara Jean and glad I got to spend more time with her, I’m not sure it was really needed another book.
Sending Love to Sarah Rees Brennan This is another surprise since it was originally posted in 2016 but I hope the continue views have sent Sarah more healing vibes because I do love reading her books.
Quick Review: Intensity by Sherrilyn Kenyon I just adore this series and even though I’m unsure if this is the last book in the series or just shift in the series focus. Either way, I can’t wait to read more about Nick.
Rick Riordan Presents I was excited to read about Rick’s new imprint featuring authors of color writing about myths and stories about their cultures. It’s great seeing Rick use his power to feature new voices and help diversify our stories.
There are so many great quotes from Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands that it needed a post of it’s own. Serene-Heart-in the-Chaos-of-Battle has the best quotes. In Other Lands takes many tropes and turns them on their head. One is gender roles. In Serene’s Elven culture, women Elves take on more of what we in the human world would consider male roles. This often brings up hilarious misunderstandings and some hard truths. Here are just a couple
“Of course it is,” said Serene. “The woman goes through the physically taxing and bloody experience of childbirth. A woman’s experience of blood and pain is, naturally, what makes women-kind particularly suited for the battlefield. Whereas, men are the softer sex, squeamish about blood in the main. I know it’s the same for human men, Luke was extremely disinclined to discuss my first experience of a woman’s menses.”
Another gem by Serene.
“Come now. It’s natural for a young pure gentleman to be abashed by such discussions,” said Serene. “Forgive me for being so frank with you and puttin you to the blush, Luke.”
Another good one. This from Serene’s cousin, Swift-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle to Elliot.
“No doubt you tempted her. Ah, a man’s morals are frail as they are, sweet silly creatures,” Swift said. “I do think it was up to Serene to control herself, though. She must have known I was considering you as a bride. Your humanity would not have mattered so very much, up in the wild north where I am stationed, but now you have been sullied, of course it is out of the question.”
The hard truth. Elliot to Swift.
“Um.” said Elliot. “Maybe both our societies are messed up, and they each only think one type of person is really a person. And the type they think is really a person is allowed to show imperfections and age…whereas the type of person they think is an object should show no signs of being a person. We’re socialized to see the imperfections in those objects.”
And there’s plenty more where that came from. You should read the rest of the book.
Is this Sarah’s best book? No but it was fun and enjoyable so I’ll let it slide. Elliot is one of the most obnoxious people you will ever meet but he’s also kind of charming. One day, he is picked to go on a field trip where he is asked if he can see the wall in front of him. He says of course he can, he’s not blind. He’s taken over the wall and into the Borderlands. A magical land that has humans, Elves, Dwarfs, Trolls, Harpies, Dryads and Mermaids. Elliot is in enrolled in the Border camp that trains young soldiers to be in the Border patrol, to keep peace in the Borderlands. On his first day there he meets the golden boy, Luke Sunborn and the Elven hottie, Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle. He is immediately in love with Serene and so he chooses to stay beyond the wall. He thinks that war is stupid and doesn’t understand how this society is made around war and does everything he can to stop fighting. He manages to make friends with Serene and begrudgingly makes friend with Luke. Throughout the years, the three of them go through so many ups and down. They all find themselves and each other. They rely on each other to get through the years of training but navigate around the camp. Elliot comes from a very unhappy home. His mother left when he was a baby and his father is incapable of love. Elliot tries to make up for it by searching for love though he has no idea how to do it. The best thing about this book is the positive portrayal of a bisexuality teen and turning gender roles on their heads. Elliot is in love with Serene and there truly is no question of his feelings or is there any questions of his feelings for Luke either. Love is love and doesn’t really care if that person is a girl or a guy. Of course, his success with people depends on whether or not they want to slap him or not. Like I said he’s very obnoxious. He thinks he smarter then everyone, he has little patience. It’s amazing he lasts as long as he has considering that everyone around him are heavily armed and trained on how to use multiple weapons. It’s kinda unfair that a male character can be so rude but still come off as charming. Then you have Serene who comes from a matriarhily society that sees women as the warriors and the men as the innocent. Basically, in Elves society the genders are reversed and it’s hilarious. I doubt we would have the same reaction for a female character but that’s an argument for another day. It wasn’t the best book I’ve read this year but it was fun and a quick read.
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.
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.