March 2017 Releases to Read

It’s already time to look back on March to see what books came out that I just didn’t have time to read!  Surprisingly, I was able to read more March books than January and February books.  But maybe that’s just because there were so many more releases.  Who knows?  Anyway, here’s the releases I want to read but will have to wait a bit.

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Book Review: Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn

Keeper of the Dawn

Paperback, 205 pages
Expected publication: April 18th 2017 by Book Smugglers Publishing

Two days ago, I saw a tweet from the Book Smugglers about the release of their first title in the Novella Initiate, Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn.  They sent me an epub to read (which in no way affects the honesty of this review), and I found myself wanting to devour it without stop once I got started.  Unfortunately, that was late at night after a long day, so my eyes kept closing and I had to stop about 2/3 in.  But I picked it up again this morning!

This was a fantastic, short read!  It was almost perfect; I just wanted more world building.  But that’s a problem I have with any short fiction pieces.  I always find myself wanting more.

What I did get was great characters and a plot that spoke to me on a deeper level.  It was something I needed right now when my life is mental turmoil.  The whole story is based on being able to achieve your dreams and goals, but you may not make it there the way you thought you would.  It was very uplifting to read a story where the protagonist just follows down the path that was chosen for them because of a prophecy or fate.  Lai knows what she wants, her path is littered with affirmations that she’ll get it, but then she fails and has to readjust.

Along the way, she discovers more about herself and the world she lives in.  We also get a beautifully told female/female relationship that doesn’t feel forced, nor is it just there.  It provides support and stability for Lai when the rest of her life is in turmoil.

Since this is a novella, I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll stop here.  But know that I loved this piece, and can’t wait to see what else the Novella Initiate has to offer us.

Summary:

Sometimes failure is just the beginning

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

Book Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1)

Hardcover, 376 pages

Published January 10th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I’m happy to share that I finally had the opportunity to read this gripping fantasy.  There were parts that reminded me of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, but Elly Blake was able to give us a wonderful story that unfolded into something that, while maybe not the most original, was definitely a fun read.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Dream Magic by Joshua Khan

Dream Magic (Shadow Magic, #2)

DREAM MAGIC, A SHADOW MAGIC NOVEL

by Joshua Khan

Disney-Hyperion | On Sale April 11, 2017

Hardcover ISBN: 9781484737620 | $16.99 | $17.99 Can. | 352 pages | Ages 8-12

Ebook ISBN: 9781368002462

Even though I loved Shadow Magic and was intrigued by this cover, my fear of spiders almost stopped me from reading this amazing story.  But I’m glad I chanced the nightmares, which I didn’t have thankfully, because this book was just as good as the first one.  The crystalline spiders were indeed quite creepy, but they totally fit with the story and I loved that they were so integral to the plot as they added a sense of urgency to the characters.  I liked them so much that I drew up some of my own to share 🙂

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5 Reasons You Need to Read the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs

I just finished reading Silence Fallen, which is book 10 in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.  The series is adult urban fantasy and features shapeshifters, werewolves, vampires, and fae in the Northwestern states.  I can’t remember when I first started reading it, maybe around book 4 or 5?  But I have been impatiently waiting for each new addition ever since.  Since some of you may not know this series, I decided not to review book 10 on its own, but to give you some overall insight into the full series.  You know, to get you hooked!

Mercy Thompson (1)

Here are my top 5 reasons to pick up this series and never put it down!

 

  1. Quick reads due to fluid writing
    • Each book stays around 300 pages and avoids purple prose
    • Seems like once I start a book, I find myself only setting it down to use the toilet or sleep
  2. Fantastic characters
    • Mercy is the driving story, so she gets her own numbered reason
    • Adam, werewolf alpha that also has a sensitive and fun side
    • Coyote, a Trickster that makes the occasional appearance
    • Even the side characters that appear briefly get nuance built into them
  3. Cover art
    • Dan Dos Santos is a genius of his craft, and these covers are all splendid
    • Details match the interior story without spoilers
  4. Main character growth and maturity
    • Unlike some series where the main character becomes invincible quickly, I don’t see Mercy having that problem
    • Every experience (plot) has a profound and noticeable effect on the heroine
    • Mercy has flaws, redemptive qualities, and as much personality as a human
    • Mercy makes mistakes and learns from them
  5. Fantastic beasts and monsters
    • Besides the big bads of werewolf, vampire, witch, and fae, we are introduced to other creatures from folklore
    • No big bad is limited by the archetype (ie. Stefan the vampire loves Scooby-Doo)
    • Monsters are not just good or evil, they exist on a spectrum

Hopefully, this gives you enough knowledge to get a sense of Mercy’s world without spoiling any of the major character developments or plotlines.  If you’ve already read this series, please share why you liked or disliked it!  Did I miss something important for this list?

February 2017 Releases to Read

This list is a tad bit late as it’s almost time to make my March releases list, but I wanted to make sure I shared several titles that I’m truly excited about, but they just didn’t fit into my reading schedule yet.

Dying to Read-Look for my Review Later

King's Cage (Red Queen, #3)The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death (The Hollows #0.1)The Wish Granter (Ravenspire, #2)Daughter of the Pirate KingAriadnis

Books I Plan to Read as Time Allows:

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets WorldEmpress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies, #1)One Blood Ruby (Seven Black Diamonds, #2)The Dragon's Price (Transference, #1)Long May She Reign

Yeah, February was a big month for sequels and new series starts.  It may be awhile before I can get back to even a third of these, but I will get them read eventually as they all sound amazing!

Blog Tour Review: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

dw-blog-tour-image

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: March 14th 2017 (TODAY!) by Shadow Mountain
One of my absolute favorite series when I was younger was Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.  I started reading it when it was first published and found myself recommending it to everyone because “people of all ages will like it just like Harry Potter!”  Yep, I thought this series could span the generations, and I proved that by enjoying re-reads every few years.

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

The Beast Is an Animal

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
This book sounds amazing and that cover is gorgeous.  After reading And the Trees Crept In last year, I’ve discovered that reading books that border on the thriller/horror line can be quite fun to read (for me as I have issues with a lot of horror stuff).  I don’t know that I’ll be able to read this in the near future as I’m booked for several reviews and blog tours coming up, but I really hope to get to it this year!

Summary:

A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Waiting on Wednesday: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Hardcover, 544 pages
Expected publication: March 28th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
 After waiting
and waiting
and waiting
and waiting,
and then some more waiting in desperation,
I can finally say that I’ve read this book!

And it was awesomely amazing!

When Laini Taylor spoke at the SLJ Day of Dialog in May of 2016, she spoke about our myth-hole.  The part of your soul that craves mythology and storytelling.  Well, Strange the Dreamer made me realize just how empty my myth-hole has been the last couple of months.  Part of that has been stress from work, but another part of that has been the books I’ve chosen to read.  There were some stand-outs (i.e. A Shadow Bright and Burning), but I had been reading to finish lists and challenges, so it felt like “required” reading.

Well, no more!  Laini’s beautiful wordsmithing has reawakened my awareness of my myth-hole’s requirements, and I’ll be paying closer attention to what I want to read while still working in books that I’ve promised to read (either to NetGalley or authors).  I did make a point to only request things that I was really excited about instead of titles that just looked kind of interesting, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem anyway.

I really don’t want to spoil anything about this book, so I’ll just leave a few quick statements about the actual book and leave it to you to read the story 🙂  I can’t wait for the sequel to come out though.  I hope we don’t have to wait too long!

The characters had a lot of depth and interpersonal reactions that felt solid and true in a fantastical setting.

The setting was beautifully described with vivid imagery without taking any of the focus away from the story or characters.

The ending was complete but also a cliffhanger.  It was the kind of wrap-up that leaves you wanting more but not with the anger of a crazed person.

Summary:

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.