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: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

glass swordBack in the complicated world of Mare Barrow.  **Spoilers** She’s been betrayed by Maven. Her dead brother isn’t dead and also has a super cool power.  Cal and Kilorn, two completely different boys who are totally in love with her are now in the same space.  Oh, and Mare now has to deal with the grief of killing people while pushing a revolution into high gear.  Yep, Mare has some things going on in her life.  I’m going to do something different then just a straight review.  I’m going to talk about how I felt reading this book.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts about the first book, Red Queen. Then you know how excited I was. (Also how disappointed that Barnes and Noble didn’t deliver it on timed)  I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed reading it and how it’s just as fast paced as the first.  Less then a chapter in and we are already into our first battle.  The emotional roller coaster I went through with Mare, Cal, Kilorn, Farley and Shade.  One of which I was pretty sure wasn’t going to make it to the end of the book.  (I won’t see who and sadly I was right). I could give you a synopsis of what happen but really, I’m probably spoiled enough of it already.  Just go read it!

As I was getting more and more into the story, I started to notice some disturbing signs.  I was pretty sure that I was not going to like how it ends  I was starting to see the end game and like I alluded to before, someone was going to die.  Someone was going to have face off with someone unpleasant and someone or someones were going to be heartbroken.  So I started to stall.  I figured I would just delay the inevitable. I distracted myself with other things. Since I was on vacation last week it was pretty easy to do.  I told my mom what I was doing and her response. “This is why I read the ending first”. BTW, she totally does and it’s adorable but I can’t do that.  That takes away the surprise! The suspense!  So I read a little bit a time until it was time for me to go home and when you are on a small commuter plane, there really is nothing else to do but read.  I had it finished before I got to Detroit.  It was painful as I thought it would be.  It didn’t play out exactly as I thought it would but yes the character I suspected was going to die, did.  The confrontation I thought was going to happen, did happen but not at all how I thought it did and it lead to one crazy cliffhanger.  And the heartbreaks were all around, myself included.  Readers, why do we do this to ourselves?  Why?  The good news I have time to process everything that happened and get my emotions back in check before the next book comes out.  The bad news (and also good news) is that there are two books to go. But really, is there anything better the agony and the ecstasy of a good book?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Rereading Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

red queenSince I have already done a review of this book, I’ll just give a few observations.

  1. You should never join a revolution when you are still in morning for dead brother.  You really shouldn’t make any life altering decisions really.  Mare is so blinded by her own rage and pain that she doesn’t see what is going.
  2. Which she would have if she had her wits about her.  She may not be book smart but she’s definitely street smart.  Her emotions got in the way and despite multiple people telling her not to trust the guy, including the guy she does anyway.
  3. I’m glad that I read Cruel Crown because I totally forgot about that one character dies and I glad we got a little bit more backstory on him, even if it was just a little bit.
  5. I really dislike Elara and I hope she has a very painful death.
  6. Poor Lucas
  7. It should be an interesting dynamic between Cal and Kilorn.

Bring on Glass Sword.

Review: Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

cruel crownCruel Crown is the collection of two prequel novellas to Red Queen. The first novella is Queen Song where we get the backstory of Cal’s mother and what really happened to her.  The other is Steel Scars that follows Farley as she leads the Scarlet Guard into Norta.  They both were pretty good.  Giving more insight into world the books take place.  Since Red Queen is told from Mare’s point of view, things like how the silver hierarchy is set up and how the Scarlet Guard works isn’t give much detail because Mare doesn’t know these things in much detail. That’s what kind of great but these little novella’s.  I’ve written in the past about how it’s trendy for YA authors to write novellas or short stories that take place in between books or prequels.  Sometimes they are just filler but other times they serve the purpose of filling in wholes that didn’t have time to get to in the narratives.  They also usually focus on supporting or minor characters instead of the protagonists in attempt to flesh out the world a little bit but usually they are of little importance.  If readers don’t read them, it’s no big deal.  They will still be able to the novels without missing anything.

Of the two stories I liked Queen Song the best.  It follows Queen Corianne before she became queen.  She’s the only daughter of a once great house that is down on their luck.  She catches the eye of Prince Tiberius, Cal’s and Maven’s father.  It follows their courtship, their short marriage and her eventual death.  She’s a feisty and curious girl, who is interested in mechanics and how things work but in a world where her only role is to be married off her dreams will never happen.  When she meets Prince Tiberius things start to open up for her.  She finds an equally lonely person to commiserate and love but never really gets over the feeling of being weak and useless.  Among those helping her feel that way is rival Elara, who would become Tiberius’s second wife and Maven’s mother.  She’s a powerful mind reader but the extant of her power is not truly revealed until the end.  Over the course of the story Corianne falls deeper and deeper into paranoia and sadness.  She’s been accused of tricking the Prince into marrying her.  She suffers many miscarriages until Cal is born.  She believes that Elara is behind it and ultimately she is right but no way to prove it.  It’s really quite sad.  From the very beginning there is a sense of foreboding since we know from Red Queen that she is dead and is believed by suicide. I kept hoping that there would be some kind of happy ending but knowing there would not.

In Steel Scars we get to know more about Farley and her motivations for not only for the Scarlet Guard but also for Mare.  We know in Red Queen that the Scarlet Guard is a resistance movement against the silver leadership but I assumed only in Norta.  I guess I’m going to have to go back and read it again.  Farley is from the Lakelands and comes to Norta to start the Scarlet Guards operations there.  While there she meets Shade Barrow, Mare’s brother, who becomes a spy for them.  Mare believes Shade to be dead until the end when it’s revealed of his involvement but also that he is like Mare.  Red blood with Silver powers.  We really don’t get much else from the story then that and why Farley is keen to recruit Mare.  Also, i think we are seeing the budding relationship between Farley and Shade.  There might be other hints for Glass Sword, the next book in the series but we will have to wait and find out.

What I’m Rereading Now: Red Queen by Victoria Averyard

red queen

I didn’t plan on read this again but it just happened to be sitting on my bedstand when I finished reading Cruel Crown. I needed to read something to keep me busy during Winter Storm Jonas.  It’ll be good to refresh my memory since Glass Sword comes out in two weeks.

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.

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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You know when you’re reading a book and you can see where the story is going and who is the villain and who is the hero before the heroine does and you just want to scream at her to wake up and pay attention! That was me with this book.  Despite this, I flew through reading it. It was exactly the distraction I needed after a few tough books.  Mare Barrow has no skills besides pick pocketing and in this world that means when she turns 18, she’ll be conscripted to the war front.  She is a Red, born with red blood and is forced to serve and work for the Silvers, those born with silver blood and who have extra powers.  When her best friend loses his job and will be sent to war, she tries to save him.  This leads to her finding out she’s more than red.  She has powers, too.  Silvers can’t let her walk away after this discovery so they try to cover it up and force her to live with them and marry one of the princes.  That doesn’t sound like such a punishment but she’s basically their prisoner whose life is at their whim.  At the same time, a rebellion is starting to take hold and Mare wants to be a part of it.  The more she becomes involved with the Silvers and the rebellion things get complicated.  She’s playing a game she doesn’t know the rules to and anyone can betray anyone.

Mare is strong but full of vulnerability.  She doesn’t have skills like her sister and jobs are scarce so she does what she can to help out her family, steal.  Her family isn’t exactly happy about it since her sister has a job and is their ticket out of poverty.  It’s hard to compete against.  She is loyal, almost to a fault.  If she has a fault is that she is so focused on her family and friends and what she sees as injustices that she fails to see the bigger picture and it gets her into trouble.  Her suitors are abundant.  First their is Kilorn, her friend that she will do anything to save.  Prince Cal, the perfect prince and Prince Maven, her betrothed.  Mare is one of those YA heroines that doesn’t think she’s pretty but has guys falling all over her.  I find this kind of annoying.  We’ve been there and down that but it does actually make sense here.  At least with her relationship with the Princes it’s not so much she thinks they wouldn’t fall for her because of how she looks but that she is beneath them.  As for Kilorn, her loyalty and feelings of having to take care of him blinds her to his feelings for her which is pretty obvious for the reader.

As I said at the beginning, I knew that Mare was being played by some of the characters but despite that I kept wanting to read to see how it plays out.  It’s paced well, the characters are interesting and I do look forward to the sequel.