In Memoriam of all the Series that Ended in 2016

In the tradition of award shows every way, we at Stacks would like to recognized those series that are no longer with us.  They have ended.  They and solved all their mysteries and tied up any loose ends.  We were said to see them go but they will always be remembered for the joy that brought to our lives.

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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.

Quick Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked-kingdom There are more twists and turns in this book then most streets. While Six of Crows took us to Fjerda and back, Crooked Kingdom stays firmly in Ketterdam. After Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, Matthias and Wylan were double-crossed after successfully completing their job at the Ice Court. They plan and scheme to take down Jan Van Eck and get the money they were promised, all while hiding Kuwei Yul-Bo from those who would want to use him for his knowledge of the drug Parem Jurdo, that could change the balance of power to whoever has it. Taking on Van Eck will be no easy task when they are the considered the worse of worst and Van Eck is a highly powerful member of the Merchant Council with the power of the city behind him. Then again, Kaz is never outdone and will not stop until he has his vengeance on everyone who has ever wronged him. Just like the first novel , this is a heist story more then anything else.  It would fit in perfectly next to Oceans Eleven if it were a movie. There are so many cons and slight of hands going on that if you are not paying attention, you will miss it.  That’s just part of the fun of the book is trying to see if you can figure out Kaz’s master plan before the big reveal. He is always two or three steps ahead. Even when it looks like he’s been bested he already has several cons waiting in the wings, just in case.  Each of these characters are deeply flawed but each given time to grow.  You may not agree with their decisions but at the same time you can’t really disagree with them either. They use the resources and the circumstances that they find themselves in to their advantage.  They are just six teenagers from the barrel and they are going best the powerful merchants at their own gain. You can’t help but cheer.  For fans of the Grisha Series will be happy to see some old friends make an appearance that is most welcomed but also made perfect sense to the plot.  I recommend this duology to anyone who likes a good heist novel.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat.

My To Read List Just keeps getting longer

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.

What books are on your t0 read list this month?

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.

Quick Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six of crowsIf you loved Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series and you love crime capers then you are going to love Six of Crows.  Set after the events of her last series but this time in Kerch, a country not far from Ravka, six criminals are tasked with a suicide mission that has little to no chance of being accomplished but the pay out is good.  Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, Matthias and Wylan are all flawed and interesting characters with varying degrees of criminal presents or pasts.  Each bring their own set of skills that are vital to the mission.  Inej, aka the Wraith, is a trained trapeze artist who can scale walls and quietly gather information. Jesper is a sharpshooter with a gambling problem, Nina is a Heartrender, who can kill you without even touching you.  Matthias is a convict who is part of a religious society that hunts down Grisha.  Wylan is the son of a rich merchant who likes to blow things up and Kaz is their mysterious leader.  He worked his way up in the Barrel to rule but it’s all to get revenge on the man he blames for the death of his brother.

A new drug called Jurda Panem has been developed and it strenghtens Grisha powers to impossible powers.  This could change the whole balance of the world.  How can people defend against the Grisha if they have unchecked powers? Kaz is hired by the Merchant Councils to rescue the man who created it from a Fjerdian prison that is inescapable.  Kaz goes about to assemble his team who don’t exactly get along but must work together if they are going to succeed or just survive.  This story has so many plot twists and misdirections it’s like Oceans 11.  You have to question everything you read because what you think is happening is not all that is really happening. It’s not just all the action that makes this book a good read.  It’s the characters.  They are all compelling and interesting with full backstories.  All with the exception of Wylan who is the only one not to have a chapter written from his point of view.  Probably because out of all them he’s the outsider of the group.  He’s not a criminal and he’s not from the barrel.  Kaz says he’s only there as leverage against the council and he knows how to blow things up but I think it’s more than that.  I look forward to knowing more about him. 

Matthias is a warrior who’s goal is eradicate the Grisha as he feels they are unnatural.  It’s one thing to arrest and execute Grisha in one’s own country but it takes balls to go other countries, tracking down Grisha, capturing them and bringing them back to Fjerdia and then putting them on trial and executing them.  He captured Nina but thanks to a storm she rescued him.  In attempt to save his life again, she accuses him of slave trading but things go south when he is actually thrown in jail for it.  Nina befriends some people (for lack of better term) to help get him out as she feels responsible.  Inej was captured and sold to a pleasure house until Kaz came and made her apart of his gang.  Now she’s his spy, the Wraith, but all she wants to do is go home and find her family. Jesper, a former farm boy who came to Kerch as a student and found gambling instead.  He’s also hiding things, one being that he is also Grisha.  I’m pretty sure I know another one of his secrets too.  Let’s just say, I ship Jesper and Wylan, if you get my gist.  Kaz is the most intriguing.  Coming out of nowhere to being a major player in the Barrel.  He’s smart and ruthless and more of a mystery than everyone.  He’s hellbent on revenge against the man he believes is responsible to the death of his brother but he’s  also a 17 year old boy so well, he has those annoying feelings to deal with.

So for fans of the Grisha series and Oceans 11 type movies this is the book for you. It’s fun, lots of action, lots of double dealings, backstabbing, mystery and potential romance.