Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

I’ve said it one but I’ll say it again. Holly Black is at her best when she writes about fairies. She is just well versed in fairy mythology that makes this world feel so steeped in tradition but also new and original. Add all he Royal Court intrigue and you have one great story. The Wicked King is the second book of her Folk of the Air trilogy and after the first book there was a lot of stack. Jude outmaneuvered her father to get the throne away from him and save her brother from having to grow up to soon. She tricked Carden into the throne while controlling him and thus the real power in the kingdom. A lot of the story revolves around those who have power and those who do not. Jude a human living in Fairy often times felt powerless. Even though she learned how to fight from Madoc she would always be at a disadvantage but the thing she has over fairies is that she can lie. Lying and her cleverness is what got her this far but controlling Carden is harder than she anticipated. He doesn’t like being commanded by her anymore than he does being the High King. Things get even more complicated when the Queen of the Undersea is taking this moment to push her advantage and someone close to Jude has or will betray her. Fairies may not be able to lie but that doesn’t mean they can’t deceive. Jude’s strength is her ability to strategies. To see Jude constantly adjusting and planning is truly fascinating. She is constantly looking at all the angles but even the best make mistakes. As much as she plans, she can’t always see the whole chess board. In the end, after all her planning and scheming she is not only maneuvered by Madoc but Carden as well. I’ll admit, I did not see the ending coming. I guess I should have guessed something was up since the title of the next book is The Queen of Nothing but it was still stunning. It’s agonizing that I have to wait until next year to find out what’s going to happen but I know one thing. Jude has not been defeated yet. She’ll be back and all fairies better beware.

Review: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Earlier this week I told Kate that I keep trying to Quit Cassandra Clare and her Shadowhunters but just can’t. This was after a discussion of authors continue stories of characters after the story had ended. She felt that Clary and Jace, Simon and Alec’s story ended up after the original trilogy. Not that I totally disagreed with her. I didn’t really like the second Mortal Instruments trilogy as much as the original but it did bring about some interesting characters that wouldn’t have existed if Clare had stop after the first three. I keep reading her Shadowhunters novels because Clare knows how to write characters. The secondary characters in The Dark Artifices are so well constructed it really brings to life the story. I have nothing against Julian and Emma but I was far more interested in Diana, a transgender shadowhunter who lived in fear of being found out. Despite her own fears she remained a well respected in the community. As cliche as it sounds, it took the Gwyn the fame leader of the Wild Hunt to see her as she is and without question to give her the strength to stop hiding. Ty a shadowhunter with autism. Shadowhunters have long shunned mundane medicine, so Autism isn’t something that they know or understand. Of course that can be said for us Mundanes as well. To Shadowhunters he seems strange and slow but he is actually quite brilliant. Change is not something that deals with easily so when his twin dies at the end of the last book and how he deals with it is so heartbreaking. And then there is Christina, Mark and Kieran. A Shadowhunter, a shadowhunter half fairy and a full fairy prince in a full blown three-mance. (is that a word? Well it is now because I not sure how to explain their relationship) Of course there is Magnus, the high Warlock of all our hearts still about. Helen and Aline a married shadowhunter couple coming back from exile and so many more. I know that Clare has been planning these books out years ago so she knew where the story was going to back in 2012 when she first introduced the Blackthorns. She couldn’t have known that her story of Shadowhunters using fear and bigotry to lead them towards fascism and tyranny would be so timely. Sadly. It only makes the wide variety of characters from different backgrounds, cultures, races, beliefs and lifestyles that more vibrant. The story would not have worked or would have not been as enjoyable without such a diverse and inclusive cast, just as our world is far better off with wide array of voices and viewpoints. No matter what people tell you. So while, I do agree that some of her characters stories have passed and it’s time to move on, I’m glad that she has continued the story to include so many more voices because it has definitely kept me interested.

What We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019

Now that we have looked back on 2018, it’s time to look ahead to 2019.  We have a lot of fun things planned for next year.  New challenges read a-longs and podcasts!  But most of all we are excited for all the new books to read.  Expanding our already to long to-read lists even more. 2019 is already shaping up to be our best year ever!  So here are some of the books we are looking forward to the most reading next year.

Beth

  1.  King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – Leigh returns to the shores of Ravka to tell us of what happened to Nikolai after the events of Ruin and Rising.  We saw Nikolai make a cameo appearance in Crooked Kingdom so we know he still uses his Sturmhond alias even though he is now the King.  What other things will we learn about him? and what characters from the past series will show up?
  2. The Everlasting Rose by Dhoinelle Clayton – Camille is on the run from Queen Sophia who is beyond a psychopath.  She must find the Princess Charlotte, heal her and come up with a plan with her friends to save everyone.  Hopefully she has learned from past mistakes and be a little bit more observant.
  3. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi – I can only hope that sequel is as impressive as the first book because damn it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  I can’t wait to read what happens next for Zelie and Amari.
  4. The Wicked King by Holly Black – Holly is really at her best when she writes about Faries and that demonstrated with The Cruel Prince.  Now that Jude has tricked Cardan into becoming the King of Faerie, what is she going to do next?
  5. Untitled Sequel to Dread Nation by Justina Ireland – I’m not sure this is even coming out in 2019 but I really want it to.  I need to know what happens next for Jane and Katherine.  Do they make it California?  Who did Jane’s mom marry that gave her away?  So many questions that need answering.
  6.  Final book in the Diviners Series by Libba Bray – Another book that I’m not sure if will be published in 2019 but I’m putting it out into the universe so it will.  The final batle with the King of Crows is coming and only our heroes can stop him.  
  7. Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa – The sequel to the Shadow and the Fox is going to be epic.  Yumeko is still on her mission to keep the scroll safe but Tatsumi is now possessed by the demon from him sword.  Can Yumeko save Tatsumi and the scroll?
  8. Book 1 of the Dreamer Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater – yet another book that I’m not sure if is coming out in 2019 but I know she has book working on it.  Centered on Ronan from the Raven Cycle and how he has and hasn’t changed since the end of The Raven King.  It’ll be nice to get back to the barns and see what dreams Ronan dreams next. 
  9. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – Angie’s first book The Hate U Give destroyed me. It was so beautiful and heartbreaking. I expect nothing less for her second novel about an upcoming rapper trying to save her family.

 Kate

  1. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas– I’m also very excited about this one!
  2. Women Talking by Marian Toews– The blurb says the book is about Mennonite women who had thought that they were being visited by demons in the night to be punished for their sins but find out members of their community have been drugging and attacking them. This promises to be an intense story about women coming together to protect themselves and other women in their community.
  3. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James-The first in a trilogy by award winning author James, the blurb on amazon calls it an African Game of Thrones. I’m so here for this
  4. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett– Here’s what I know about this: it’s about an HIV-positive black teen. I also know that I enjoy Camryn Garrett’s twitter presence and it seems unlikely that I’m going to stop picking books this way in 2019.
  5. Internment by Samira Ahmed-In this near-future novel, Layla Amin and her parents find themselves in an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. This looks like its going to be another intense tale. Layla works, with the help of others, to obtain freedom.

What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Quick Review: The Storyteller by Traci Chee

Where to begin? The Reader trilogy is so well done. It really took you on a journey. From Sefia being just a girl on the run to a powerful sorcerer. Archer being a scared killer to a leader. They all have come a long way. The central theme is do we control our own fate or is it already determined. I won’t say how what the answer is because it’s a huge spoiler but maybe the biggest take away is whatever your fate is it’s irrelevant. It’s what you do and the impact you have on people that is more important. You touch so many people that you don’t know and probably will never know the impact. It was a harsh lesson for Sefia and Archer as they struggle with their own self doubt and the knowledge of what they had to do to accomplish what has to be done. Captain Reed has traveled the seas to ensure that his legacy will live on and so then would live on. Tanin who is willing to destroy the world to figure out why her two best friends would leave her and all they fought for behind. It was amazing series and I know this write up doesn’t do it justice but I don’t want give to much away. Go read it. It will be an unforgettable experience.

Quick Review: Arch-Enemies by Marissa Meyer

What is the definition of a villain?  The Renegades and the Anarchists would say the other is a villain.  The Anarchists wanted to fight for prodigies rights.  They were no longer willing to live in fear and hiding but there methods of violence did sit well with others.  The Renegades used their powers to defeat them and now run Gatlon City.  Both the Renegades and the Anarchists wanted to change the world but had different ideas on how to do it.  Does that make either one of them villains?  This is really the question in the center of the series.  Nova was raised to hate the Renegades.  She sees them as dangerous and not what they appear to be.  She blames them for the death of her family and for the destruction of her uncle.  Meanwhile Adrian was raised by the Renegades and sees what they do as trying to make the world the better place but sometimes frustrated with all the rules.  Things get even more confused when the Renegades reveal their new weapon against Prodigies who break the rules.  Agent N, that take away their powers.  Soon all patrols are being trained on how to use it basically making Renegades judge, jury and executioner.  This is troubling to both Nova and Adrian but for different reasons.  Nova believes this a gross misuse of power and to easy for it to be abuse.  Who is to stop a rogue Renegade from using Agent N on someone they don’t like?  But Nova also starts to see that not all Renegades are bad people and truly believe what they are doing is for the good.  Which makes her question everything that she was taught.  She keeps having to remind herself that she is an Anarchist and that she has a mission to save her Uncle Ace Anarchy.  To complicate things even more to complete her task she must get closer to Adrian, who she may or may not have feelings for.  You know it wouldn’t be a YA novel without some kind of complicated romance.  It’s a fun series as the characters are enjoyable to read and constantly questioning your own loyalties.  Are you with the Renegades or the Anarchists?

Review: Kingdom of Ashes by Sarah J Maas

What a way to end a series.  It was seven books in the making and finally know how it all came together.  Aelin and her friends have been on a quite a journey.  From the beginning when Aelin was just an assassin and Dorian was a spoiled Prince.  It was expanded so far beyond that now. To other continents and other worlds.  What I liked about this was that every character had a role to play in the ending and that is quite a feat as there are a lot of characters.  I mean we are talking about Game of Thrones level of characters.  They are all flawed people but have one goal to defeat Erawan and Maeve and create a better world.  It wasn’t easy and there were many twists and turns along the way.  It started off slow as the characters were spread far and wide.  It also took me awhile to reacquaint myself with some of the characters as for most of them it’s been two years since the last time we have seen them but once they started to come together that it really started to pick up and get going.  So many story arcs to wrap up and most of them were.  I think a few left open a bit that we could go back and revisit Erilea.  Let’s get back to Aelin as she is really the heroine here.  Of all the characters she has been through the most.  She started out as a assassin and ended up a Queen.  She has endured enough trauma for several lifetimes and would have been forgiven if she gave up and she had plenty of chances to do just that but she doesn’t.  She gave everything she had for her country and her friends.  She used her intelligence and skills to outwit and defeat her enemies as much as she used her power.  I’ll miss reading about her because she was fun, smart and spunky. If you haven’t read this series you should and lucky you, you can now read it in it’s entirety without wearing years between books.