Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Highly Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020

I'm a little late on this post because, well, it was so hard to decide what books to include. January, especially, had so many great books coming out that it was such a challenge to limit it to five. Somehow I managed, and here we are with the my most highly anticipated releases for the first half of 2020.

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
Every January I look forward to the newest Wayward Children book. I love how Seanan McGuire takes us to so many fantastical worlds. 

One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus
This book is a sequel to One of Us is Lying, which I really enjoyed. I'm just about finished with this book, and it's a nice follow-up. 

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
The final book in the Truly Devious series. I can't wait to see how it all plays out. (first book in the series featured here)

The Night Country by Melissa Albert
And, speaking of sequels, I loved The Hazel Wood, and I'm eager to see where the story goes. (series featured here)

The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord
Well, at this point, it's clear that January is all sequels. I wasn't expecting to get a sequel to The Start of Me and You, but I am not complaining. Not one bit. (series featured here)

Deathless Divide by Justine Ireland
The first book in this series, Dread Nation, was so good. I love a well-done alternate history, and this one has zombies and zombie hunters. (series featured here)

The Life Below by Alexandra Monir
I was so surprised by how much I liked The Final Six. I need to know what happens now that the six are off to space.

The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith
This book is the first of the World War II books on this list. There are several YA World War II stories coming out this year that look especially good. This one is about a kamikaze pilot and the girl he loves. (Sherri Smith's Flygirl featured here)

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven is one of my favorite books of all time, and I'm ready to give Emily St. John Mandel another go. 

Anna K.: A Love Story by Jenny Lee
This book is a retelling of Anna Karenina that's been described as a mix between Crazy Rich Asians and Gossip Girl. I'm intrigued. 

Moment of Truth by Kasie West
Now that I'm all caught up on Kasie West's backlist, I need her next book. 

They Went Left by Monica Hesse
The second World War II book on this list, and Monica Hesse's third foray into WWII historical fiction. I'm a huge fan of Girl in the Blue Coat, and I'm eager to go back to the WWII era with her.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
It's Elizabeth Acevedo. That's all that needs to be said. But, if you need more convincing, this book involves two sister who didn't know the other existed until their father's death.

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein
Elizabeth Wein is a master of historical fiction, and I can't wait to be back in her capable hands. Also, it looks like we'll be seeing some familiar characters from the Code Name Verity series in her new book. (series featured here, here, and here)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Returns to long-ended series make me just a bit nervous, but I'll admit that I am ready to go back to the world of The Hunger Games.

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
I love Jenn Bennett's contemporaries (featured here and here). They always make for the perfect summer read, and I'm thrilled to have one to put on my summer reading this again this year. 

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
I don't know much about this one except that it revolves around a magical circus, and that's enough to get me interested. (Circus setting here and here)

My Calamity Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows
I love the Lady Janies, and I'm ready to head to the wild west with this crew. I'm sure this book will be just as endearing and hilarious as the previous two installments. (series featured here and here)

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
I'm ending the list with another World War II book. Traci Chee's book takes us to the U.S. Internment camps. (World War II Wednesday here)

Friday, January 31, 2020

More Favorite Reads of 2019

It's been a couple years since I compiled a favorite reads post. It's been hard for me to read as much as I'd like to over the past few years and I'm excited to be feeling more like myself and to do more reading.

Here are some fun facts about these twelve books:
  • 5 were discussed in one of my book groups
  • 6 were audiobooks - I'm definitely reading more audiobooks than anything else these days
  • 3 were ebooks
  • 4 were debuts or new-to-me authors
  • 5 were fantasy
  • 2 were magical realism
  • 2 were science fiction
  • 1 was nonfiction
2019 was a good year for reading and I'm looking forward to 2020 being even better.

Favorite YA Contemporary: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
This book combined several of my favorite things: American girls in Europe, parallel realities, and a main character who finds her voice. I read the book this summer when I was feeling so much wanderlust. I don't know if it helped or made it worse, but it was a great way to live vicariously. (featured here)

This book is magical realism at its finest and can we just talk for a minute about what a master storyteller Erin Morgenstern is? I loved the way everything in this book wove together with even the tiniest detail being integral to the story. I loved living in this world as I read and it's a setting that has stuck with me since I finished the book.

I loved the medieval feel of Onyx & Ivory and was excited to revisit the world in this sequel. The first book was a slow burn, but Shadow & Flame caught me immediately and did not let go. It's a perfect fantasy filled with interesting magic and political intrigue and dragons. We can't forget the dragons. (series featured here)

Favorite Series Conclusion: Supernova by Marissa Meyer
I read this entire series this year and will admit that it took me a little time to get into, but each book is better than the last. Supernova was the best of them all. It tied up loose strings and created new ones. It dove into the ideas behind being a hero all while giving us a lovely romance.

Favorite Science Fiction Book: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Illuminae Files series is science fiction at its best, so I was excited to see where Kaufman and Kristoff would take us next. They didn't disappoint with a new cast of distinct and interesting characters, a truly creepy monstrous problem, and the mystery surrounding the main character. I'm looking forward to the next installment. 

I first read this book in 2010 and loved it. When my book group decided to read it, I was excited to revisit it, and I still love it. The book has a lovely gothic feel and is shrouded in sadness and mystery. There were some details that stuck with me from 2010 to now but so many that I had forgotten, and I really enjoyed reading this story again. (featured here)

Favorite Audiobook: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Echo has a little bit of everything. It's a WWII novel with music, magic, and intertwined stories. I really loved the audiobook because the music mentioned in the book was played along with the story. I enjoyed the different narrators for each section and the magic that wove through the story. This is a lovely middle grade World War II novel.

Favorite Book Club Book: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
This book opened up such an interesting discussion about devotion and faith with my book club. Thanks to JoLee, I was able to talk a little about the Mystics during our discussion, and I think this book does a great job of highlighting this lesser known historical concept. It was certainly a book that got me thinking. (featured here and here)

Favorite Retelling: The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine
This is C.J. Redwine's fourth Ravenspire novel, but it's the first one I read. I was so impressed I went on to read the rest of them. I love the high fantasy feel of the book and the beautiful world-building. My biggest pet peeve with a fairy tale retelling is when it is too on the nose, and this one walked that edge a bit, but the setting was so well established that I didn't bat an eye. (first book in the series featured here)

Favorite Non-Fiction Book: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin
JoLee and I have often discussed how the Vietnam War is a black hole in our knowledge of American history. This book did a great job of illustrating the historical context surrounding the war and the mistakes made leading up to and through the conflict. It was enlightening to say the least and done with Steve Sheinkin's signature style of telling the story of history, not just the bullet points. (featured here)

Favorite Read of the Year: Circe by Madeline Miller
Greek mythology is another favorite thing of mine, and so it's no surprise that I loved Circe. I loved the character as reimagined by Madeline Miller, I loved the way all these seemingly separate myths were woven together into one cohesive narrative that will forever change the way we look at this villain from the Odyssey. (featured here)

Favorite Book by a Best-loved Author: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I loved Laini Taylor's The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and was really excited to read Strange the Dreamer. It did not disappoint. This is the kind of book you sink into slowly until you are completely submerged in the setting, the story, and the characters. An absolutely beautiful read. (featured here)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Blog Tour: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

I'm so thrilled to be part of the Tweet Cute blog tour. This adorable book is out today! It's a fantastic debut from Emma Lord that is basically guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Publisher/ Year: Wednesday Books - January 21, 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Source: Review copy from the publisher

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t
ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of
them expected.

Add to Goodreads | Purchase Links

I knew I had to get my hands on Emma Lord's debut from the moment I first heard about it. Not only did it sound adorable, but it also has a bunch of elements that I'm unashamedly a complete sucker for. We've got teens with jobs, teens on the internet, and letters from strangers. I just had to see how all of these elements would come together in one book.

I have to say, Tweet Cute completely met my expectations and lives up to its title. This book is so sticking cute. First of all, I absolutely loved the relationship between Pepper and Jack. I'm all in for fictional relationships with a fair amount of snark, and these two can really deliver. I really enjoyed how this book had Jack and Pepper interacting on multiple platforms. It was fun to see how their relationship developed when they both knew with whom they were interacting and when they didn't.

But Tweet Cute isn't all fun and games, Jack and Pepper have some family issues that make this book both a little more serious and a little more meaty. Both teens are part of families with big expectations. They are trying to navigate the tricky road of being true to themselves and wanting to please the people they love. I knew that, before the end of the book, the characters would not only have to face the feelings they had for one another, but would also have to have a serious heart to heart with their respective families.

All of this takes place in the fast-paced, private school, New York setting, where the big franchise is pitted against the downtown deli. I love a good New York setting, and, as an overachiever and former high school athlete, I found Pepper's character to be very relatable.

If you like baking (or eating) desserts, if you love New York, if you are a swimmer or a diver, if you can't resist a good grilled cheese, or, if you just enjoy a cute teen romance, might I suggest Tweet Cute?

About the Author:

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so
nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

Visit her online: Twitter | Instagram

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Decade in Books: Favorites Books 2010-2019

I joined Goodreads in January of 2008. That means I now have a record of every book that I've read for the past twelve years. With the decade coming to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look back on my favorite books from these past ten years.

I selected two of my favorite books published in the specified year (although I didn't necessarily read them that year) and at least one favorite series that concluded in that same year. Looking back at the series especially, I can see the books that really were a big part of my life.


Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
Okay. So I'm kind of cheating right off the bat with this book. Technically it came out on December 29, 2009, but that is practically 2010, and I'm counting it. (featured here)

At Home by Bill Bryson
I could not stop talking about this book when I read it. I probably drove everyone bonkers with all the little tidbits I was learning. (featured here)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Can you believe that it's been a decade since the last book in The Hunger Games came out? I had dreams about that series; that's how ingrained it was in my psyche. And now, in 2020, we are getting another new addition to the world. (I try to define "dystopia")


Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt
This book is still one of my very favorites. Definitely in my top ten. Just superb in every way. (featured here)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I found this book so engrossing when I read it. The tone and atmosphere were just so magical. (more "circus" books here and here)

Beka Cooper by Tamora Pierce
The Beka Cooper series was the first series by Tamora Pierce that I read, and it set off a whole chain of events that involved me reading every one of her books over the next few years. I really could not leave a series that had such a huge impact on my reading life off this list. (Most Read Authors: Tamora Pierce post that you don't want to miss)


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Still one of my absolute favorites. I loved Rachel Hartman's follow-up to this book too and very easily could have put it on the series side of the list. I chose not to because Seraphina has such a warm place in my heart. (Seraphina here and Shadow Scale here)

The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde
I love Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. (I'm assuming he's going to write more, which is why it isn't on the series side of the list.) This book, especially, is such a kick. So fun. (Jasper Fforde makes the Favorites of the Year Post twice here)

The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper
My sister and I both fell so hard for Michelle Cooper's Montmaray series. I still want someone to make this book series into a television mini-series. (series featured here)

The Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore
Kristin Cashore really ignited in me a love of YA high fantasy, and I started picking up the genre a lot more. However, in recent years, I've come to realize that I am very picky when it comes it YA high fantasy but something that has the feel of Cashore's series will always be a winner for me. (Graceling here and Bitterblue here)


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I think this is my only YA contemporary on this list. I started out the decade not too into the YA contemporary genre, but I've read more and more of it every year thanks to gems like this one. (featured here)

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Fascinating nonfiction about the U.S. rowing team that won the Berlin Olympics in 1936.  Anyone interested in the Depression Era, World War II, or amateur sports needs to pick this one up. Also, I highly recommend the audio version read by the late great Edward Herrmann. (featured here)

For Darkness Shows the Stars Series by Diana Peterfreund
This series includes some of my favorite retellings of classic literature. The first book in the series is a dystopian retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion and the second is a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. (series featured here and here)


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I was slow to pick this one up, but it became one of my very favorites. Just exquisite. (featured here)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Another popular book I was slow to pick up, but there's a good reason everyone was so enamored with it. (featured here kind of)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor
I love Laini Taylor's writing, and I could read her descriptions of the Chimera endlessly. No plot required. (series featured here, here, and here)


Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson
Reading this book was one of the best reading experiences of my life. I read it while listening to  Shostakovich's music, which made for a very enjoyable, emotional, and wonderfully aesthetic reading experience. (Goodreads review with music suggestions here. Featured on the blog here.)

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
This book made me feel that swelling, tingling sensation that you get when you are reading something truly amazing. I loved the characters. I loved the mystery. I loved the strangeness. I loved the atmosphere and the mood of the book. And, most of all, I loved the writing. (featured here)

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Very few series gave me as much long-term joy as The Lunar Chronicles. I kept telling people that I didn't know what I was missing from my life was a cyborgian retelling of Cinderella, but, wow, was I ever. I loved every one of the books and fell pretty hard for these characters. (series featured here)

The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
Oh. I have such fond feelings for this series. Titus and Iolanthe may always be my OTP. Titus and Iolanthe forever! (series featured here)


Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Martha Hall Kelly's debut novel is one that I've recommended to countless people. It's an exceptional World War II book in a world swimming in World War II books. (featured here)

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
The quiet perfection of this book really took me by surprise. This book is a fantastic work of historical fiction, made all the more enticing by the fact that it is set in a time and place that gets very little attention when it comes to fictional narratives. (featured here)

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
This list would not be complete with a book by Maggie Stiefvater. She is one of my very favorite and most read authors. I think every book in The Ravens Cycle made a Favorites of the Year post. (series featured here)


Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
This is kind of a strange pick for a favorites of the decades list, but I love Neil Gaiman, and I was completely smitten by his retellings of Norse myths. (featured here)
The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
This novel was such a joy to read. It also makes this list, in part, because it's one that I recommended (and gifted) left and right. (featured here)

Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud
Anyone that's been around the blog for a hot minute knows of my total and utter devotion to Lockwood and Co. This series lasted five glorious years, and I wouldn't have complained if it had lasted forever. (series featured here)


Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
I love how this book weaves together history, mythology, folktale, and science. This book is so transporting. (featured here)
Circe by Madeline Miller
Just absolutely as fantastic as everyone says it is. This book reminds you that Greek Mythology is just one big, complicated family drama. I also love the smooth, relaxing writing style.  

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
An absolutely glorious series from Laini Taylor. Muse of Nightmares, the second in the series, was my very favorite book of 2018. This series is the loveliest slow-burn fantasy with incredible world-building. (series featured here and here)

The Illuminae Files by Aime Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Every year the sequels in The Illuminae Files series topped my most-anticipated lists. I love how inventive the story telling is in this series, and I'm a little obsessed with AIDAN. (series featured here)


The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
A stunning debut novel. I was completely under its spell. (featured here)

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
Such a satisfying homecoming. I loved everything about this book, but best of all it brought back that The Raven's Cycle tone that I love so much. (featured here)  

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
This series got better with every book. I was so happy with the series conclusion. (featured here and here)

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
I love this underrated gem of a fantasy trilogy. In fact, I love it so much that I reread books one and two before tackling book three this summer, and I'm not much of a rereader. (series featured here)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Favorite Reads of 2019

It's my favorite time of year for bookish content. I can never get enough of the best-of-the-year posts.

In 2019, I continued my trend of consuming ever more audiobooks. For the second year in a row I listened to more books than I read. Actually, I listened to more than 2x as many audiobooks as I read, with the audiobook count coming in at 115 and the read count coming in at 49.

I gave 21 books a 5-star rating this year, which is about the same as last year. I read and listened to some fantastic books, some of these will probably become all-time favorites.

In 2019 I had two big reading goals. I wanted to read more adult fiction, and I wanted to read at least one non-fiction book a month. Considering how little tracking I did with this goal, I did pretty well. I read at least two non-fiction books every month, except October, in which I read none, and I read 25 adult fiction books this year. The result is that this favorites list has a mix of YA and Adult titles, with six books from each age category.

I decided for my Favorites Of the Year post this year to only pick from the 2019 releases (with the exception of my favorite book club book because I only had 12 to chose from for that category). So, without further ado, here are my favorite reads of the year in a variety of categories.

(Favorites from other years here.)

Favorite Fantasy: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Sorcery of Thorns has an old-school fantasy feel to it that I really loved. I definitely got Howl's Moving Castle vibes, though this book is heavier and more action-packed than that classic. The world has an early 19th-century feel to it, so the book reminded me of several historical fantasies I've read as well. Also, how could I resist a magic library? 

Favorite Debut: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
This book is a historical fantasy set in the United States of the early 1900s and a portal fantasy. It has a dual timelines and narratives and deals with identity, the magic of words, and familial love. It does a lot. And it does it all so, so well. One of the best books I read this year. 

Favorite First Book in a New Series: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
I'll admit I was a little wary about returning to such beloved characters as these, but I needn't have been. Maggie Stiefvater's Lynch brothers series is shaping up to be absolutely fantastic. I loved everything about this book, but best of all it brought back that Raven's Boys tone that I love so much. 

Favorite World War II Book: Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini
I decided it was about time I have a World War II category, I do host World War II Wednesday after all, which means I read quite a few World War II books every year (both fiction and nonfiction). This year my favorite of the bunch was Resistance Women which tells the stories of Mildred Fish Harnack, Greta Kuckoff, and Martha Dodd, real women who were involved in resistance efforts in Germany during the Nazi regime.

Favorite YA Contemporary: Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum
This summer I read several fictional 9/11 stories in preparation for a post centered on that theme. They were all excellent, but this one was my favorite. Hope and Other Punchlines is a beautiful, sad, poignant, funny, and hopeful read. I absolutely loved the relationship between Abbi and Noah. Their banter was so endearing. Julie Buxbaum's books always perfectly balance serious subjects with a bit of lightheartedness and a whole lot of humanity. (featured here)

Favorite Sequel: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
I didn't think The Handmaid's Tale needed or even should necessarily get a sequel, so I went into The Testaments with a lot of trepidation, and then was completely swayed. I was so into this book. I found it compelling and captivating, and I could not put it down. I also really liked the audiobook. It has multiple narrators and the format of this book works really well on audio.

Favorite Book Club Book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson's book was our book club pick for August. It made for a great discussion. This book is fantastic, eye-opening, and hard to read. I listened to it very quickly so that I could just feel all the rage at once. The systemic racism in the criminal justice system is horrifying. We all need to be educating ourselves about these problems and supporting people like Stevenson who are fighting for change.

Favorite Series Finale: Supernova by Marissa Meyer
Marissa Meyer's superhero series got better with every book. Honestly, I was a bit unimpressed by the first book in the series, but then I rocketed through the second book. The third book in the series is best of all. It was a thrilling and exciting conclusion that really made me love the series as a whole even more. 

Favorite Historical Fiction: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
This book is the story of Danny and his older sister Maeve, whose lives revolve around a large and somewhat quirky house that everyone calls The Dutch House. The book is really just the story of a life and a family, and, yet, it is also so much more. This might be my favorite of Ann Patchett's novels. She's such a master. 

Favorite Nonfiction Book: Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
We all know that we live in a world designed by men for men. Invisible Women makes it clear that the situation is so much worse than we even realize. While listening to this book, I rage texted with a friend who had also read it. I highly recommend this strategy for your own sanity. I just hope that some men actually read this book, but, after reading the book, I feel like that might be too much to ask. 

Favorite Retelling: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
I didn't think I needed another Cinderella retelling, but this book is so good. I love Jennifer Donnelly's writing, so I was expecting it to be good, but it blew me away. The book stars Isabelle, one of Cinderella's stepsisters, who is really not all that wicked. She's cut away pieces of herself to try to fit the mold of the perfect girl, and now she must reassemble those pieces and heal her heart.

Favorite Audiobook: Lovely War by Julie Berry
This is one of my favorite books of the year and the book that I've probably recommended the most. It's set during World War I and revolves around the love stories of two couples. This is a book about love, music, ambition, and fear. It tackles race issues and women's contributions to the war effort. It's so deftly crafted and involves a really interesting framing device: The Greek gods take turns recounting the story. With a full cast, the audiobook is a work of art as well. (featured here)

P.S. Backlist titles I gave 5 stars to this year: Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak, Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, and Circe by Madeline Miller

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Series Salute: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

I love this underrated gem of a fantasy trilogy. In fact, I love it so much that I reread books one and two before tackling book 3 this summer. I'm not much of a rereader, but the plots in this series are so intricate, and I wanted to make sure I did not miss a thing.

About the Books

Tea is a bone witch, meaning she can raise beings from the dead. She discovers her power at the age of twelve when she raised her brother Fox from the dead during his own funeral. Powerful and feared, Tea must leave home to train with a more experienced necromancer. In the first book, as we read about Tea's emerging powers, her training, and her friendships and rivalries. In the second book, conspiracies in the kingdoms start to unfold, and in the third book Tea's destiny and the fate of the kingdoms are at stake. All three books are told in dual timelines, so we get hints of what's to come all along the way.

Why I Love Them

1. The Imagery
The imagery in this series is absolutely stunning. It has a bit of an Asian-inspiration, but it's also so clearly it's own world, and the world building is stunning. It is, in every way, a fully formed world.

2.The Creepy Atmosphere
I just love a book that's thick with atmosphere. A lot of the creepiness (you know it has to be in there; Tea raises the dead and can control monsters) is created through atmosphere alone. Some of the monsters in this world are truly terrifying.

3. Tea
Tea always has something up her sleeve, and she's always getting into some kind of trouble. She is also smart, caring, and willing to risk so much to do the right thing. Tea is powerful, and that power puts a target on her back.
4. The Magic
The wearable hearts' glass is a really fascinating concept, and I love everything about it. The job of the Heart Forger, who must collect memories to make new hearts' glass, is one of favorite elements in this fantasy.

5. The Daeva
The daeva are monsters that rise from the dead on a given schedule, and Tea and other necromancers must send them back to death. The descriptions of these creatures are so vivid. 

6. Tea's Friends
I love the royal trio of Prince Kance, Khalad, and Kalen as well as Likh. This crew gets Tea into a fair amount of trouble, and their loyalty gets tested at times, but by the end of the series, it's clear that Tea could not have succeeded without them.

7. Tea's Asha Sisters
The sisters in Tea's Asha-ka, Mykaela, Lady Shadi, Lady Zoya, Polaire, and Altaecia, are characters I could not do without. Although, there were moments with this crew that broke my heart a little. 

8. Fox
As Tea's first resurrection and Familiar, Fox is forever linked to Tea. I love seeing a good sibling pair in fiction, and it's particularly satisfying to see one in a fantasy novel. 

9. Intricate Plotting 
This series is so carefully crafted. Many times I felt like I did not fully understand how this world works, and I'm not sure that I'm supposed to know. All I know for certain is that I loved the ride.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Reading on a Theme: Boarding School Thrillers

Coming at you with more books that would be perfect for any October TBR. I love a good boarding school setting, and there are so many great boarding school books out there. You've got your fantasy-style boarding school books, your historical boarding school books, and, of course, contemporary boarding school books. With so many options to choose from, I wanted to narrow the field a little for this post. Let's face it, a boarding school is a great setting for a thriller, and thrillers are perfect for October.

Academy Absconditi:
When November Adley's former-CIA agent father suddenly ships her off to boarding school, November knows something must be really wrong. She's surprised to find her new school is a secret training ground and even more deadly than the outside world. Killing November by Adriana Mather has a bit of a locked-door mystery element to it, and I enjoyed not knowing who to trust. The classes are pretty extreme with some life-threatening tests, so danger is never far away. The long-established rival families reminded me of The Conspiracy of Us, so, if you enjoyed that series, definitely check out this one. Killing November was out March 29, 2109. Review copy from NetGalley.

Ellingham Academy:
Stevie Bell is off to Ellingham Academy, a private boarding school that only accepts geniuses for self-directed study. Stevie's area of interest is criminology. She's come to Ellingham to solve a decades old mystery that took place on its grounds and involves its founder. The only real clue to the unsolved case is a note signed by Truly Devious. Truly Devious is a fun YA mystery. I love the quirky boarding school setting, with all the students' very specific interests. I also really like the back and forth between the present day and the 1930s mystery. This book is the first in a series, and it ends with a monster of a cliff hanger, but, thankfully the next book in Maureen Johnson's trilogy, The Vanishing Stair, is already out. 

Innovations Academy:
Mena is a student at an elite all-girl boarding school, Innovations Academy. There, she and the other girls are trained to be perfect young ladies. But all is not right at this school, where the students receive harsh punishments for stepping out of line and are trained to never think for themselves. Girls With Sharp Sticks is so creepy. Set in a very near future that is a little too close for comfort, this book is a true horror story for any young feminist. As with all thrillers, I don't want to give too much away. Just know that Suzanne Young will lead you through some truly twisted paths. Also, I'm kind of obsessed with this perfect cover. I'm adding the sequel to my TBR. Girls With Sharp Sticks was out March 19, 2019.

Bates Academy:
Kay Donovan and her friends are the queens of their East Coast boarding school. They are also the ones to discover fellow-student Jessica Lane's body floating in the lake. Kay doesn't want to be anywhere near the polices' radar, and, when an anonymous fellow student begins blackmailing her, she'll do anything to keep her secrets safe, including exposing all of her friends' dirty laundry. People Like Us is full of unlikable characters, which is a great set-up for a thriller. As a reader, you have no idea who to trust or if Kay is even a reliable narrator. I'd love to see more drama from Kay and her friends. Dana Mele's debut is a solid YA thriller. 

Blackbrook Academy:
When a storm hits Blackbrook Academy, an elite boarding school on the Maine coast, a small group of students are stranded in one of the school's dorms. The next morning their headmaster is found dead in the conservatory. Stranded, with no idea when help will arrive, the students have to face the fact that they are most likely bunking down with a murderer. In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund is the first in a trilogy inspired by the classic board game, Clue. I really loved all the Clue references, from the character names, to the subtle nods to all the murder weapons, to all the aptly named rooms of Tudor House. In the Hall with the Knife is out October 8, 2019. Review copy from NetGalley.


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