I honestly thought I wouldn’t have content for today, and then Michaela suggested trying the try a chapter tag. I picked 6 books I really need to get reading, and try the first chapter from each one. I actually had a lot of fun with it, and I hope that you’ll let me know if I end up ranking them correctly!
Young Adult fantasy
Review: “The Orphan Queen” by Jodi Meadows
The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows
Published March 10, 2015, by Katherine Tegen Books
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.
She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.
She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.
Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.
Three and a half stars
I’m not sure I’ve ever been this conflicted about a rating before. For sure, this rating would not go any lower. However, the conflict comes from whether or not is should be higher. I’m not sure. Let me explain.
Worth It Wednesdays: The Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce
Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!
Titles: First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight
Author: Tamora Pierce
Goodreads Description of First Test: In the medieval and fantastic realm of Tortall, Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl to take advantage of the decree that permits females to train for knighthood. Up against the traditional hazing of pages and a grueling schedule, Kel faces only one real roadblock: Lord Wyldon, the training master of pages and squires. He is absolutely against girls becoming knights. So while he is forced to train her, Wyldon puts her on probation for one year. It is a trial period that no male page has ever had to endure and one that separates the good natured Kel even more from her fellow trainees during the tough first year. But Kel Is not a girl to underestimate, as everyone is about to find out…
Why it’s worth it: Listen. You could pick up any Tamora Pierce series you wanted and have something worth it. You’ll probably see me talk about all of them over the course of this feature. However, out of all the series, I think that Protector of the Small is my favorite.
I. Love. Kel. Kel is the quintessential female warrior who stands up for what’s right. The first books, especially, deal with Kel struggling to be accepted as a girl in a room full of men, but the books never lose sight of that struggle. However, the books are hardly just about that. Kel also battles her way through tough situations, fights, battles, wars–not to mention constantly having to push herself through her own fears and terrors.
This is also Kel’s story. Sometimes YA today feels like the story of two people, usually the romantic duo. Romance happens in this series, but it happens on a minuscule scale around everything else. Above anything else, Kel is on a mission to get her shield and prove herself. She certainly enjoys acting like a traditional female sometimes, but she refuses to sacrifices every talent and skill she fights so hard for.
Out of all the books, I think that Squire is my favorite, followed quickly by Lady Knight. While I was home from break, I abandoned any new book purchases because I was filled with a need to read them again. They are classic, quintessential, and pretty damn perfect. They influenced my childhood and they fill me with joy to this day. If you haven’t read these yet, and this sounds like something up your alley, then GET THEM NOW.
Read it if you’re looking for: Lady knights, strong female characters, books without romance, humor, classic fantasy, books about friendship, action, adventure, magic, feminism.
Waiting on Wednesday: The Fire Wish by Amber Lough
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!
Author: Amber Lough
ETA: July 22, 2014
Summary from Goodreads: A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . .
Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.
Why I’m Waiting: Remember how just last week I was talking about wanting more fantasy not based in Europe? Well, I am ALL for Middle Eastern folklore and history as a basis for fantasy. (Like, just the other day I was sitting in my Middle Eastern History class thinking, “This is awesome, I need to base some worldbuilding on THIS.”) Also, Tammy Pierce blurbed it, which is always sure to get my attention.
Top Ten Things On My (YA Fantasy) Reading Wishlist
Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Fair warning: I am going to rant about villains at the end of this. Other fair warning: this list is mostly focused on the realm of YA fantasy, because that’s the genre I’m best-versed in!
1. More epic fantasy in YA. And I DON’T mean the incredibly cliched stuff. Was Sabriel cool? Sabriel was cool.
2. More nonwhite protagonists. Or nonbeautiful ones. Or non-heteronormative ones. Or…yeah, you get the idea.
3. More fantasy based in places other than Medieval Europe. Nonwestern history is cool too!
4. More positive portrayals of a variety of different female roles (not just the utterly kickass heroine with a sword in each hand and a knife in her teeth or the passive love interest type!)
5. More long, gorgeous, ridiculously well-crafted books in YA. A lot of the time this genre moves extremely quickly, but there is something to be said for the beauty of an 800-page hardcover.
6. More sensitive, sweet guys who aren’t secret badasses, and romances that develop based on mutual compatibility and connection, not hotness. I was actually talking with my boyfriend (who is not a secret badass, although he is a scientist so maybe that counts?) about this one recently–how love interest guys are almost never quiet and thoughtful and emotional. They’re confident and badass and sexy, and if they’re not, they’re hiding something. Which I think is a shame, because other guys are awesome too! And sweet, thoughtful types have a lot more long-term, happy relationship potential than guys who have killed six people with their bare hands, y’know?
7. More awesome platonic relationships that are not ever sexual.
8. More functional, supportive parents in good relationships. Seriously, they all suck in YA. Well, not all of them, some of them are okay, but most of them suck. (I’m aware that a lot of real parents suck. But it’s important to note that not all of them do!)
9. SURPRISE ME. It’s really hard to surprise me. When I am surprised, I’m usually really happy about it, and I am willing to overlook about ten other kinds of errors because someone generally threw a twist at me that I didn’t expect.
10. And the one I would write an essay about if I didn’t restrain myself: MORE PEOPLE WHO AREN’T EVIL BUT ARE DOING BAD THINGS AND AREN’T EXCUSED FROM THEIR ACTIONS. I didn’t realize how much I wanted this until I read an example recently. I want characters who have good potential but also some fatal flaws, and make a lot of bad decisions or fall in with the wrong people, and end up doing inexcusable things. I want antagonists who have good friends that care about them and try to help them. And I don’t want the redemption story. I want the wrongness of their actions to be acknowledged. I don’t want them let off the hook. I want the story to own up to what they did, and follow that through.
There aren’t a lot of genuine monsters in the real world, but there are a whole lot of normal people who ended up doing bad things because of their surroundings. Because they were desperate, or they wanted to fit in, or no one ever taught them about compassion. If we think all bad people are monsters, then when someone who obviously ISN’T a monster does something horrible, we can’t reconcile it. I want a story that can simultaneously acknowledge the lack of inherent evil, the potential for not-terribleness, and the horror of someone’s actions.
…-end accidental rant-