Quick Review: Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare

Fourteen books and countless novellas in to the Shadowhunters Chronicles, you pretty much know what you are going to get. Lot’s of diverse characters. Action, romance, agnst and humor sprinkled throughout. There is at least one character questioning their identity, at least two characters who are madly in love with each other but convinced the other doesn’t feel the same way about them. Another end of the world plot that they have to uncover, usually having to do with something bad that the Shadowhunters have done in the past and now are paying for it. Chain of Iron is no different and I know this and yet I keep reading on. I guess because despite it all, I still want to know what’s going to happen next. Clare has a way of populating her books with well rounded and thought out characters. They feel real. They are complicated and simple. They may be otherworldly but still live in a space that feels like every day. I may not know what if feel like to battle demons but I do know what it feels like to feel lonely or out of place. I guess that’s why they are so popular because no matter who you are there is a character that represents you somewhere in the series. This series takes place in turn of the 20th Century London but still full of diverse characters because it is England after all and the Empire was in full swing. There are LGBTQ+ characters because they have also existed in this time period even if the media of the time didn’t reflect it. So yes, fans of the books are going to love this as much as the others but new readers may feel a little daunted by the all the references and subplots to previous and upcoming books. Basically don’t start here if feel like jumping on the Shadowhunter train.

Review: A Court of Silver Fire by Sarah J Maas

This series is about trauma and found family. It’s not an easy read but it’s also very engrossing read. I do love this series. The first three books focused on Feyre and her journey from human to High Fey. I’m not going to say she is over her trauma but thanks to Rhys and her new family she is in a much better place now then she was. Not something that can be said for her sisters, Nesta and Elain. In particularly, Nesta. This book focuses on Nesta and her trauma over the last few books and beyond. The eldest Archeron family, she was supposed to marry a Prince and continue to help rise the family but when misfortune struck her family she felt helpless and guilty that it was her youngest sister, Feyre that kept them fed. When she and Elain were brought into the Fey’s struggles and turned immortal by the Cauldran, Nesta’s troubles only got worst. She never had the opportunity to deal with the issues of her past life and then she’s thrown into a world strange to her and given more struggles to deal with it.

After the end of the war with Hybern, Feyre let Nesta to her own devices fearing that if she stepped in Nesta would just resent her but when Nesta continues to self destructs she finally can’t let it go on. She orders Nesta to train with Cassian in the morning and work in the library in the afternoon and live in the House of Wind. Nesta and Cassian have had a fiery relationship so it was only a matter of time before things really started to spark between them but this is not the relationship I want to talk about. Throughout the book she meets two other women. Gwyn, a priestess who also works in the library and Emerie, an Illiayrian with her own shop. Together they all train together and bond over their own personal traumas and become their own family. Gwyn and Emerie understand Nesta in a way that Feyre, Rhys and the others can not and she understand them too. It’s such a joy to see three women grow with each other and support each and lift each other up. They can just be themselves with each other as they all work through their own struggles. It’s not that female friendships are missing in this series, Feyre and Mor have a strong relationship but it was never the focal point like Nesta, Gwyn and Emerie are. I like reading strong female friendships and making it up front and center because it doesn’t happen very often. Even in YA novels that are mostly written by women. Friendships are usually secondary to the love line of the story. So yes, more female friendships.

This is such an incredible series because it has so many different elements of fantasy. Yes, it’s not always easy to read all the trauma that the characters have gone through but the characters in the story are well thought out and fleshed out. It’s worth the read for fantasy lovers out there.

Review: Stormbreak by Natalie C. Parker

I will miss this series. Caledonia and crew are special and took me on a quite of adventure. When the series begins the crew’s motto has run and hide and stay away from bullet ships. They are no longer running or hiding. They are striking back in hopes of creating a new world. Despite of all the trials Caledonia and crew continue to inspire others to join them and fight. They do it by giving the people the power of choice. They can stay and help them or they can go back to their life of servitude but for once it’s their choice. They all grow as characters but this is Caledonia’s story. She starts guilt ridden and angry, seeking revenge on Lir and Arik’s Bullet army to killing her family. Her need for vengeance often got her in trouble. Her inability to let it go and to not let her sisters in made her fail over and over again. It wasn’t until she was able to let go of her own wants and needs and let her crew burden some of the responsibility did they succeed. The book doesn’t sugar coat her flaws. It doesn’t gloss over her mistakes and her bad decisions. Her own personal struggles with who she is and the choices she has to make. She knows that to win they have to be as ruthless as their enemy but how do you do that without becoming them. She does it by again letting people choose their own destiny. When the fight is over it doesn’t mean that everything is now perfect or that she can go back to living as she did because life doesn’t work that way. She may have succeeded but now she has to live with everything she did to get there and that’s not easy. Caledonia wasn’t the only one who grew over the three books. Picses was always Caledonia’s second in command. There to help and follow Caledonia’s lead. She was Caledonia’s moral compass when she ever went to far but seemed at the beginning only wanting to follow. Over the series, she found her voice and began to not only challenge Caledonia more but also take more of the lead until she was the one giving orders. It’s great to see.

This books is full of great characters of all spectrums that anyone can see themselves represented. They all brought their own strengths to the crew and made it possible to win the day. From Amina to Hime to Nettle to Tin to Oran to Pine, Sledge and more. I don’t think there was an unlikeable character. Lir, our big bad was a good villain. He did unthinkable things but it wasn’t just for evils sake but born out of years of violence and abuse. It doesn’t excuse his actions but makes sense to the story and motivation. I do hope that someone buys the rights to this series because it would make a great series or movie. I would say TV show then movie because there is just so much into that it would lend itself well to an episodic format. So yes read this series from beginning to end. Especially if you liked Mad Max: Fury Road. You won’t regret it.

What I’m Reading Now: A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

It’s been a while since the last book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses came out. Now we are following Cassian and Nesta as the Night Court prepares for war once again.

Our Favorite Books of 2020!

Well 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year. Thank goodness it’s about to end. We’ve been pretty open with our struggles we had this year when it came to our reading lists. We didn’t read as much as we wanted and don’t have as many books to pick from. So this year we are going to do something different this year. Instead of picking our Top 5 or 10 books we are just going to list our favorite books we read this year. So here we go.

  1. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – by Cho Nam-Joo This was such a powerful book to me. Like the main character Kim Jiyoung. I was also born in 1982 and can identify with so many of her struggles. The fact that she is Korean and I am American just goes to show how alike we are all no matter where we are from. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
  2. Deathless Divide – by Justina Ireland The sequel of Dread Nation about a Zombie apocalypse after the US Civil War. In this one we see more the aftermath of what happened and the hardships they all have to endure. Jane is the best protagonist. She’s funny, strong, and damaged but she never gives up. She’s who we all would want if a zombies ever attack and considering how 2020 went, I’m surprised they didn’t. (Beth don’t jinx it)
  3. The King of Crows – by Libba Bray The final book in The Diviner’s series was ever the sweeping epic I wanted it to be. It brought all of them together and made them all work together to defeat the King of Crows. The sad thing about this series is how so many of the problems of the 1920’s are still too relevant today. Racism, poverty war and greed all played a part in the novels and the last couple of years. I’m truly going to miss all of these characters.
  4. Midnight Sun – by Stephenie Meyer Controversial choice I know because I wasn’t very kind to it or to Edward and Bella. It has not aged well and I’ll never read it again but It was kinda fun to reminisce back to a time when I loved these books and when I was excited to go see the movies in theaters. (Remember when we could do that?) No matter what I feel about the now, I’ll always be grateful to them and Stephenie Meyer because they introduced me to a whole new genre of books that I probably wouldn’t have sought after before. So yes, It wasn’t a good book but it brought back some good memories.
  5. There’s Something about Sweetie by Sandhya Menon Sweetie is an awesome main character. Her development is amazing. The romance is adorable. I totally forgot I had read that one.
  6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz This was such a beautiful novel about a friendship between two teenagers. I loved it so much. It broke my heart and lifted me up. It was just so great. Plus, Lin Manuel Miranda reads the audiobook.
  7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro This novel was so horrifying. The quiet romance that hid the dark realities that Ishiguro created in the novel made it such an amazing piece of speculative fiction. I was so disturbed by it.
  8. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness The world building here is neat and I’m interested in where the story is going. I didn’t read a whole lot this year, but this one did get me into the sequel. So, even though there are things that definitely annoy me, I am adding it to the list. 

Quick Review: Dividing Eden and Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau

I believe I bought Dividing Eden because it was on sale and I had read other books by the author and thought why not? I finally got around to reading it thanks to USPS delivery The Tower of Nero to the apartment building across the street. (Yeah, tenant association email chain for the assist) I’m glad that I got around to it because it was a fun read. The premise is that Eden was at war with a neighboring kingdom, the previous royal family still had influence in the kingdom and the power of the wind that kept the power going to the kingdom and the threat to the terrors of the night at bay was failing. Twins, Carys and Andreus were not expected to ascend to the throne thanks to having an older brother but when he and their father, the king die they must compete against each other for the crown. Once inseparable, their loyalty gets out to the test when power is on the line. At least for one. Carys never really wanted to be in power but she is clever. You see, when she and her brother were born the seer made a prediction that one of them is cursed and would be the downfall of the Kingdom. It was assumed that the cursed one was Andreus because he was born sickly. Carys has always stepped in to protect him. When he has one of his episodes, she’ll do something to draw attention away from him so no one will be the wiser. It was her role and she thought it would always be. That was until Andreus met the new Seer, Imogen and his brother was dead and he could be king and out of everyone’s shadow. But who was behind the deaths of their brother and father? Wasn’t the Neighboring Kingdom? The ousted royals? The members of the council? Carys does what she always done and goes out of her way to help and protect her brother. Andreus betrays her the moment he sees he could have everything he ever wanted and a pretty girl. Typical boy believes a woman he wants to sleep with over his sister who has done nothing but protect him his whole life. The end of the first book, we get the resolution of who wins the crown but who is behind it all not so much. It’s much more complicated then that because there a lot of things at play here. All pretty well set up too. I was able to guess some of who was behind but one subplot I didn’t really see coming. All in all it was a good two books. If you are looking for a quick fantasy read with lots of subplots and palace intrigue, this is for you.

What I’m Reading Now: A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

The final book in the Ember in the Ashes series I’m interested to see how this one ends