Favorite Reads of 2017, so far

Hello all!

It’s been a long time since I wrote a fun post that wasn’t necessarily a review of some kind, so I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve read this year that I’m thankful for.  Some are debuts, published in 2017, backlist books, new series installments, new authors to me.  But since I’m all about reading to my mood, these books came to me at a time when they were helpful and fun.

Anyway, here’s my favorite reads this year (in no particular order):

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)The Only Pirate at the PartyThe Queen of Blood  (The Queens of Renthia, #1)Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)Not Quite NarwhalFirebrandDream Magic (Shadow Magic, #2)Scion of the Fox (The Realms of Ancient, #1)Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)Storm Siren (Storm Siren, #1)Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1)The Saga of RexShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

What books have you read this year that felt right?  Which were amazing?

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#OTSPSecretSister October and November Packages

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My secret sister is on point and always seems to get the month’s package out right at the beginning, so I don’t have long to wait!  October’s theme was Halloween/spooky and included 2 books! and an iZombie Funko Pop for my amazing ladies collection.  The first thing I did after opening this package was spend three hours excavating that tombstone, I found the tiny black skull hidden inside within the first hour.  But that tombstone was huge and I wasn’t sure if there was supposed to be any more.  Unfortunately, I did bruise my hand and typing at work the next couple days was quite interesting.

I did read Fiendish last month as my spooky Halloween read and should be sharing my review very soon!  Such as fun package, thanks secret sister.

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November’s theme was Inspire, and it couldn’t be more timely!  I am only tangentially participating in #NaNoWriMo this year, but I am working on getting words on a page.  The round things are inspirational magnets, which I already put on my fridge.  I see them every time I get something to refresh myself.  The colored pencil are my favorite kind of multicolored with multiple shades of a single color to provide blending.  And they will almost certainly make coloring that lovely Labyrinth coloring book so much fun!  I couldn’t be happier with this package 🙂

Sadly, this means that there are only 2 more months for this round and then I’ll have to decide whether I can participate in the next round.  I really hope that I can as this has been such an amazing experience so far.

Cover Reveal: Stolen Enchantress by Amber Argyle

Today is the cover reveal for Stolen Enchantress by Amber Argyle. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The cover is designed by Melissa Williams Design.

Let me just say that I love this cover!  It was so hard not to share this one before the release date, but that would have ruined the surprise and collective delight!  I hope you love it as much as I do.  And the book sounds super awesome!  Can’t wait to read 🙂

Stolen EnchantressStolen Enchantress (Forbidden Forest #1)
By Amber Argyle
Genre: Fairytale Adaptation/ Epic Fantasy
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: April 9, 2018

Blurb:
Any girl who goes into the Forbidden Forest never comes out again. Except the one who did.

Larkin should have been watching her little sister. Should have paid more attention to the trees looming over her family’s fields. Now Sela is gone. Knowing full well the danger of the forest and its beast, Larkin goes after her anyway. With her sister clutched in her arms, she manages to escape, but not before discovering the truth lurking beneath the wicked boughs.

She may have evaded the beast once, but with the full force of his magic now fixated on her, she isn’t sure how much longer she can resist . . .

You can find Stolen Enchantress on Goodreads

You can pre-order Stolen Enchantress on iBooks

Amber ArgyleAbout the Author:
Bestselling author Amber Argyle writes young-adult fantasies where the main characters save the world (with varying degrees of success) and fall in love (with the enemy). Her award-winning books have been translated into numerous languages and praised by such authors as NYT bestsellers David Farland and Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Amber grew up on a cattle ranch and spent her formative years in the rodeo circuit and on the basketball court. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year-old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less-crazy larger people. She’s fluent in all forms of sarcasm, loves hiking and traveling, and believes spiders should be relegated to horror novels where they belong.

To receive her starter library of four free books, simply tell her where to send it: http://www.amberargyle.com

You can find and contact Amber here:
Website
Blog
Facebook
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Saturday Spotlight: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce

Tortall: A Spy's Guide

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Today’s spotlight is on a book long in the making, but is not a novel.  This is a companion to the fantastic world created by Tamora Pierce, Tortall.  One of my favorite places, and my answer to the question, “What magical realm would you visit/live in?”  Many of my favorite, inspirational characters live within this universe, Daine, Alanna, Numair, and so many others.  I’m super stoked that Numair’s prequel series comes to us so soon!!  In just a few short months, so this book can trigger memories and refresh your sense of the world and what’s been happening.
Needless to say, I’m very excited to read this book and add it to my collection.  Maybe someone will get it from my wishlist for Christmas 🙂

Summary:

The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness. This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

Hardcover, 376 pages
Published August 28th 2017 by Random House Children’s Books
Recently, I finished listening to the audiobook of Leigh Bardugo’s latest book, the first in the DC Icons series.  While Wonder Woman is not my favorite superhero, I have found her Greek mythology storyline fascinating, so I was expecting good things.
I was a little disappointment.  And I’m not sure if it was the writing or maybe the narrator.  There were parts that I really liked, such as the oracle, the bracelets, Diana’s realizations about humans and her place in the world.  But the overall story felt a bit contrived?  I wanted to finish the story but I had to force myself to get started every time.  I just wasn’t motivated to keep going.
I guess I got caught up in the hype and expected too much.  My plan still definitely includes reading the rest of Leigh’s backlist as I enjoyed the first Grisha book very much and am excited to read Six of Crows.  If I had to guess, WW didn’t surprise me because WW doesn’t lose.  UGH, I feel like I’m rambling now, so I’ll leave it here.
Let me know what you thought about this book.  Did I miss something epic?

Summary:

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

September 2017 Releases to Read

I almost forgot to post about all the amazing books that released in September this year!  I haven’t read even a tenth of them, but I definitely want to make sure other people know about all these delicious looking titles!

Ready to Read-Look for My Review Later:

SkyfarerBefore She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous MagicThe Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #2)Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Books I Plan to Read as Time Allows:

All's Faire in Middle SchoolEven the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1)Fireblood (Frostblood Saga, #2)The Night GardenRise of the Jumbies (The Jumbies #2)Quests for Glory (The School for Good and Evil: The Camelot Years #1)The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1)M.F.K.: Book OneInvictusThe Glass Town GameGodsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2)The Brightest Fell (October Daye, #11)

 

Did I miss any of your favorites?  Let me know in the comments!!

Book Review: Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko

Scion of the Fox (The Realms of Ancient, #1)

Hardcover, 440 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by ECW Press
Once I read the description comparing this book to a combination of American Gods and Princess Mononoke, I knew I had to read it!  Much to my surprise, when I reached out to ECW Press via Twitter playfully asking a signed arc make its way to me, they sent me a DM saying they couldn’t send a signed copy but would be happy to send an arc my way.  I was super ecstatic by the news and eagerly awaited its arrival.
 Turns out that I wasn’t able to fit it into my review cycle until October, but that was absolutely perfect.  It definitely has some eerie, spooky parts and the spirits are monstrous in their descriptions.  When I wasn’t reading this book (ie at work), then I was distractedly thinking about what would happen next or picturing what some of the characters look like.
Although the book had a bit of a pacing issue, I greatly enjoyed this novel for multiple reasons.  Great diversity of cast is high on that list.  The main character is a redhead!  And her friends aren’t cookie cutters, they have thoughts and emotions and distinct voices.  One of them was born without legs and another is plus size.  I really liked that each character did have a distinct voice because this book is multiple POV and we could have gotten lost easily but the author handled it very well.
Last thought: the writing in the this book really spoke to something inside me.  I can’t quite describe why but I think it comes down to word choices.  They appealed to my fantasy reader/book nerd self.  Like I said, hard to explain.  Hope you all can give this one a chance!  I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!!

Summary:

As the winter ice begins to thaw, the fury of a demon builds — all because one girl couldn’t stay dead . . .

Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not sotypical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly. A snake-monster called Zabor lies in wait in the bed of the frozen Assiniboine River, hungry for the sacrifice of spirit-blood in exchange for keeping the flood waters at bay. Thrust onto an ancient battlefield, Roan soon realizes that to maintain the balance of the world, she will have to sacrifice more than her life in order to take her place as Scion of the Fox.

American Gods meets Princess Mononoke in this powerful first installment of a trilogy sure to capture readers’ imaginations everywhere.

Surprising Reads: Lighter Than My Shadow, Thornhill, and The Witch Boy

Here’s three new books this year that I didn’t know I would be reading.  On a whim, I picked these up and ended up reading each in a single day.  While they aren’t the best books I’ve read this year, I wanted to share them with you because of their content and the questions they ask and answer.  Read on for brief summaries and my thoughts and opinions on each.

Lighter Than My ShadowLighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

Summary:

Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She’d sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she’d have to eat it for breakfast.

But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly.

Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the vulnerable, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness.

My Thoughts:

This is a painfully frank and graphic description of what it feels like to live with an eating disorder.  As someone who has not lived through this but loves to eat and frequently stress eats, I’ve often wondered what it feels like.  Since this is a memoir, I can only assume that the author has the authority to speak on this subject as I have no point of reference.  Even without color, I found myself drawn into this powerful story of pain, suffering, asking for help, and following through again and again.  If you want to see inside the head of someone battling a variety of eating disorders and the kind of help you can seek.  I’m looking forward to reading this story again in color when it releases to see what impact that provides.

-Reviewed from an advance copy through work, trigger warnings for sexual abuse, nudity, and slicing off body fat

Thornhill

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Summary:

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

My Thoughts:

Here’s two stories that parallel each other, told through differing mediums.  The past is told through journal entries belonging to Mary while Ella’s present story is told through wordless illustrations.  The story flowed really well and I devoured the whole book in one sitting.  My main issue with the story is that <SPOILER> it appears that Ella commits suicide at the end to be friends with Mary, who had also committed suicide due to bullying.  And a third girl is introduced at the end, mirroring the beginning of the book and suggesting that the cycle will probably continue.  So I’m conflicted about whether I’d be comfortable recommending this book to middle schoolers, who I believe are the intended target audience.

-Reviewed from an advanced copy through work, trigger warnings for suicide, bullying, and possible off screen rape

The Witch Boy

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

Summary:

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

My Thoughts:

This story did not go the way I thought.  From the description and the beginning of the story, I thought this might be about transgender expectations.  Instead, the story tackled gender a little differently.  I’m not sure that the characters did much for me, but I like that this graphic novel is something that can be given to middle schoolers as part of the ongoing discussion of why we separate genders in so many areas.  It may not be my favorite, but I already know a few people I’ll be sharing this.

-Reviewed from an advanced copy through work, no overt trigger warnings

 

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

The Tea Dragon Society

Hardcover, 72 pages
Expected publication: October 31st 2017 by Oni Press
HOW CUTE ARE THESE TEA DRAGONS?!?  I absolutely adore these cute little things and the fact that they are in a fantastic story is just amazing!

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This story was originally released as a webcomic, which can be found by following this link.  You should definitely go check it out.  I’ll wait.  No, but seriously go check it out. I don’t mind if you get lost and forget to come back here!  I know I’ve gotten lost in the world and art of Katie O’Neill’s fabulous work 🙂

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Hey, glad you came back!  Now that you have explored a bit (or perhaps even all) of The Tea Dragon Society, I want to tell you why I fell so deeply in love with this magical slice of awesome.  Obviously, the art and concept really spoke to me, but once you dig deeper, you find that there are several layers to explore.  I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t discovered them, so let’s just say that the diversity and inclusion were presented as natural and constant.  Neither were plot points, but accepted by the inhabitants without reproach.

I think my only regret is that this book is so short.  I guess that just means that I’ll have to be on the lookout for more from Katie in the future.

Besides following the webcomic, I did receive an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which did not affect my honesty in any way.

Summary:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.