New Releases Wednesday

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Published: September 15, 2020 by Tor

Goodreads

Synopsis: Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .” 

My Thoughts: I went through hell and high water to get an ARC of this. I got rejected by two of my ARC services and the publisher directly, but then I got approved for the audiobook from Macmillian Audio because they like me, hehe. I have a full review of the audiobook coming in the next few days. Be warned it is LONG. 880 pages long. But, oh so good.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Published: September 15, 2020 by Margaret K. Elderberry Books

Goodreads

Synopsis: Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

My Thoughts: I really hope this book lives up to the hype. I am hearing about it constantly. I want a YA book with a strong female lead, a rich world, a thorough magic system. And please, Gods please, no love triangles.

Take My Money! Sunday

The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski

Expected publication: October 27, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Reinmar of Bielawa, sometimes known as Reynevan, is a healer, a magician, and according to some, a charlatan. When a thoughtless indiscretion forces him to flee his home, he finds himself pursuednot only by brothers bent on vengeance but by the Holy Inquisition.


In a time when tensions between Hussite and Catholic countries are threatening to turn into war and mystical forces are gathering in the shadows, Reynevan’s journey will lead him to the Narrenturm — the Tower of Fools.


The Tower is an asylum for the mad…or for those who dare to think differently and challenge the prevailing order. And escaping it, avoiding the conflict around him, and keeping his own sanity will prove more difficult than he ever imagined.

Why I’m Excited: I am currently reading The Witcher series, and absolutely loving it. I have watched The Witcher on Netflix twice so far, and absolutely loved it. This sounds very interesting and also very different from that series. It interests me. And, I just so happen to have an ARC. I’m so excited!!

The Future is Yours by Dan Frey

Expected publication: February 9, 2021

Goodreads

Synopsis: If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you? 

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity. 

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

Why I’m Excited: I love a good sci-fi and particularly ones in which AI leads to mass chaos. I am not 100% sure that’s where this book is going, but I’m fairly sure that’s where it will end up. The way it is told seems to be similar to World War Z. I am a bit hesitant about that because I have seen lots of books try to copy the storytelling style of that book and never succeeded. I am excited to see what this one brings.

Review: Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Expected publication: February 16, 2021 by Flux

Pre-order this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Flux!***

This book was originally scheduled to be released in May and because of COVID got pushed back to February. So for once I am doing an ARC review very early. But I didn’t want to wait too long to write the review lest I forget what happened.

This one took me by surprise. I was intrigued by the cover but honestly it’s a pretty standard YA sci-fi/fantasy cover. The blurb sounded interesting but not anything I haven’t read before. I prayed that there wouldn’t be the typical YA love triangle, and there wasn’t so that was nice. I expected it to be a very typical YA book and nothing more. I was wrong.

Ren was a pretty good main character. She was a bit one-sided at times in that she she insisted that all she cared about was the money when it was clear from her actions that she cared for a lot more than that. That got annoying. It was mostly like she was trying to convince herself that she didn’t care. But I did like her spunk and enjoyed following her through the story.

Darek was probably the most useless character in the book. He was the stereotypical tall, dark, handsome, brooding YA male lead. He doesn’t break any of the models here and fits the character well but wasn’t very compelling.

I adored the relationship between Adley and Lesa, and I loved them separately too. At times I was horrified by them and other times I was overcome with sympathy for them. I wanted their story to have a happy ending so badly.

Kellen was a delight to the story. I expected him to be the typical charming, sarcastic Prince who didn’t want to be. And in some ways he was but he also displayed a lot more depth than that.

The worldbuilding in this book was spectacular. The world was created with so much detail and depth, I could picture every inch of it. The politics, classes, social structure, all of it was rendered in beautiful detail.

What ultimately clinched this book for me was the ending. I was shocked. I was completely taken by surprise. In hindsight I can see the blocks that were put in place for this ending and I should have seen it coming. But I was enjoying other parts of the story so much that I didn’t pay enough attention and missed the clues. It was wonderful and I hope there’s another book planned. I need to know what happens next.

Audiobook Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Published: July 7, 2020 by Flatiron Books

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Review: ***Disclaimer I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for a free review. Thank you NetGalley and MacMillion Young Listeners!***

The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. It’s very eye catching and striking. Now that I have listened to the audiobook, I can say with certainty that it is the most perfectly descriptive book cover I have ever seen. The serpent twining around a rose is a perfect representation of this plot.

I found the audiobook narrator to be delightful for this book. There are a lot of words and names that are Persian in origin and quite difficult to pronounce, but she did perfectly. Her tone and characterization for Soraya was exactly the way I imagined in my head.

This plot was an interesting mix and was also where it lost a star for me. It started off with a huge bang. Within the first 20% Soraya’s entire world explodes in violent drama. Then the plot really slows down and frankly I didn’t know what the point was for awhile. It started to get a little boring. Then the ending picks back up and the pace races all the way to the end. I loved the story but I felt the middle could have been shorter and the book would have been better off for it.

And in one last fangirl moment, Soraya’s romance was so romantic. I mean, what more could a girl ask for than someone who promises to bring your enemy to you on their knees. Swoon.

Overall I really loved this book and the audiobook does it perfect justice. I highly recommend it.

Review: Anomaly by K.A. Emmons

Anomaly by K.A. Emmons

Published: April 7, 2020

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating:

Synopsis: 14-year-old Ion Jacobs just wants to belong to a family and feel normal. But his past is a mystery, his future is a question, and his whole life is about to change.

Tossed from one foster home to another and shadowed by his mysterious past, Ion fears he’ll never fit in — until one day, when he drops a pencil and instead of falling to the floor…it floats.

Shocked and bewildered, Ion searches deeper and discovers an undeniable truth about himself: he possesses extraordinary powers beyond his control. Healing injuries, levitating objects, and superhuman strength come as easy to him as breathing. Now Ion only has one goal: make sure no one finds out what he’s capable of.

Struggling to keep his newfound abilities a secret, Ion finds himself more isolated than ever — until he meets a mysterious stranger in the woods who seems to understand Ion better than anyone else. As tensions rise at home with his new foster family, Ion finds it harder and harder to control his powers. And when he accidentally sparks a fire that nearly destroys their home, Ion is forced to face the reality of his situation: not only is he capable of healing — he’s also capable of fatal destruction.

Anomaly is the gripping paranormal prequel to The Blood Race series by K.A. Emmons.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and K.A. Emmons!!***

This was an enjoyable litte novella. It introduced me to the world of Ion quite well. I assume that the first book in the series picks up where this left off, with Ion trying to figure out his powers. It was nice to get a sense of the things he is able to do. Obviously he can control things with his thoughts. But it isn’t fleshed out to a great extent since I assume that is the plot of the first book.

Ion was an enjoyable narrator. He felt genuine as a 14 year old boy who has spent his entire life in the foster care system. His anger and despair at being abandoned by his parents and then shuffled from home to home was poignant. I feel like this series was written for a middle grade, early high school audience and I think that’s the right audience for it. At an age when bullying and despair at not fitting in are common, Ion would be a relatable companion.

While this novella doesn’t get too deep into the world or the characters it did interest me enough to want to check out the series. So, it did just what it was intended to do.

Take My Money! Sunday

After a few weeks break, we are back! I had to search a bit through the covers I’ve seen recently for this one. Being sick took me out of the loop for upcoming releases.

A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson

Expected publication: September 15, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: While studying wolverines on a wildlife sanctuary in Montana, biologist Alex Carter is run off the road and threatened by locals determined to force her off the land.

Undeterred in her mission to help save this threatened species, Alex tracks wolverines on foot and by cameras positioned in remote regions of the preserve. But when she reviews the photos, she discovers disturbing images of an animal of a different kind: a severely injured man seemingly lost and wandering in the wilds.

After searches for the unknown man come up empty, local law enforcement is strangely set on dismissing the case altogether, raising Alex’s suspicions. Then another invasive predator trespasses onto the preserve. The hunter turns out to be another human—and the prey is the wildlife biologist herself. Alex realizes too late that she has seen too much—she’s stumbled onto a far-reaching illegal operation and now has become the biggest threat.

In this wild and dangerous landscape, Alex’s life depends on staying one step ahead—using all she knows about the animal world and what it takes to win the brutal battle for survival.

Why I’m Excited: This is the beginning of a new series, a mystery series that focuses on a wildlife biologist. That idea really interests me. Once upon a time I wanted to be a biologist of some sort when I grew up, so these kinds of stories always capture my attention.

Fable by Adrienne Young

Expected publication: September 1, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Why I’m Excited: As much as I should say no to young adult fantasies that sound as good as this, I never can. I keep hoping that the period of crappy young adult fiction will be over. Maybe this one will be the one. Because it sounds great! This one is also the first in a new series.

New Releases Wednesday

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected on Water by Zen Cho

Published: June 23, 2020 by Tor.com Publishing

Goodreads

Synopsis: Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

Why I’m Excited: First off, the cover looks more like a painting than a book cover. I could stare at it all day. I was not familiar with the term “wuxia” when I happened on this book. But I looked it up and it means “martial hero”, so a hero of the martial arts. This just sounds so good! I want to read this so badly.

Sisters of Sword & Song by Rebecca Ross

Published: June 23, 2020 by Harper Teen

Goodreads

Synopsis: From the author of The Queen’s Rising comes a thrilling YA stand-alone fantasy about the unbreakable bond between sisters. Perfect for fans of Ember in the Ashes, Sky in the Deep, and Court of Fives.

After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.

Why I’m Excited: The synopsis of this one made me want to learn more, so I did a little research. Turns out this book is an alternate history Ancient Greece. All of the gods/goddesses have left behind powerful relics that the Queen is on the hint for. Something goes wrong and Halcyon ends up charged with a murder. That sounds so good. And it sounds like a very good sibling story, where both siblings are good people who want to protect each other from the world. That appeals to me.

Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

Published: October 1, 2019 by Ace Books

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell … and Earth. 

Review: I think I fell in love with this book, and with Claire and Brevity and Hero and Leto. I feel such much emotion for all of them. Every single character is layered and deep, which is severely lacking in fiction these days. The plot was similarly complex and layered. Just when I thought the story had peaked it was raised to another level entirely.

Claire was one of the single best characters I have ever read. We are introduced to her as the surly, prickly Librarian of the Unwritten Wing of Hell. She takes no crap and expects everyone to follow commands without question. She is 100% certain that the role of Librarian is to prevent characters from rising from their novels because who knows the damage they could inflict on the world. She is steadfast, she has an iron will on this issue. But it’s not that simple. There is a heartbreaking reason why she feels this way. When it was revealed, I cried with her and for her.

Leto was a mystery when we are first introduced to him. He is a human who recently died and, for some reason, he has condemned his own soul to hell in the form of a demon. And he refuses to tell anyone why. Again, as we revealed the whole of his story, I fell in love with him too. I cried with him, I cried for him, and my heart rejoiced when he found his way.

My only minor complaint is that the story meandered quite a bit. I feel like this could have been a lot shorter but not sacrificed anything that made it wonderful. This world had so many layers and I loved exploring them.It is a very unique take on heaven, hell and all things in between. I also glanced rather uneasily at the unfinished manuscripts on my computer throughout this book, maybe I should work on those. I hope to further explore the different areas of this world in the next book, which I pre-ordered as soon as I finished this one.

Review: Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Published: February 4, 2020 by Tor

Buy this novella at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Review: ***I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a free review. Thank you NetGalley and Tor!***

This was a fun little novella and certainly a lot better than the one I reviewed from Sarah Gailey last month, River of Teeth. The biggest issue is that it was just so short. The hardcover is 176 pages and it came out to 99 pages on my Nook. There was almost no world or character building as a result. I liked the characters and I liked the premise but it had zero depth.

This dystopian world is one that is intolerant of lesbian or non-binary women. Some of these women choose to work as “Librarians” and deliver “approved” media materials for the masses. And they occasionally lead insurgencies and smuggle people to safer areas. But because of the lack of world building I have no idea why the world is this way. Is it just non-straight women that society objects to? What about gay men? What about transgender individuals? Are there racial issues there too? Usually intolerance is not limited to just one thing. Because we don’t touch on anything except that one aspect at all and since they haven’t explained the world to me then I can’t even make an educated guess.

Esther was a good character and I found her to be very sympathetic. Though it was a bit undermining to my sympathies that within a few months of watching her first love hang for the crime of having unapproved materials Esther is making starry eyes at the Assistant Librarian Cye. I felt a lot of deep emotion for Esther and her story initially. But then we immediately start mooning over Cye and I felt that sympathy fading because apparently she had gotten over it, so why shouldn’t I?

This was a good little story but I really wish it had been given more time and more pages. It would have been less tropey and been able to explore this world in a lot more depth. That would have only improved it for me.

New Releases Wednesday

The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes

Published: May 26, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.

In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible–until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs.

Izzy’s disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy’s exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.

The Prisoner’s Wife tells of an incredible risk, and of how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy’s story is one of love and survival against the darkest odds.

My Thoughts: This sounds like a thrilling journey spurred by love and surrounded in tragedy. World War II historical fiction seems to be having a moment right now and I am very excited to see what it brings.

The Lady Alchemist by Samantha Vitale

Published: May 26, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: In a land torn between magic and alchemy, Sepha is an exceptional alchemist, able to bend the rules in ways no one else can. But when a slip of the tongue lands her in prison with a mountain of straw, even she has to admit that she can’t transmute straw into gold.

With the threat of a death sentence hanging over her, she’s forced to make a deal with a conniving magician. Sepha escapes with her life – but at a cost: she has one year to alchemically create a body for the magician, or else her firstborn child will be his.

As Sepha’s deadline approaches, she uncovers a deadly secret. How can she save her country when the body she owes the magician will be used to destroy it?

My Thoughts: Fairytale retellings are quite possibly my biggest guilty pleasure. I love the new take on a familiar story. Not to mention this cover is absolutely spectacular. I really want to read this.