Her slender fingers glided over the front cover of the battered novel, memorising every detail. The slight ridge of the title, the small rip that had formed at the top of the page, and the colours that had faded over the years from the days it spent sitting on the window sill of her bedroom. It was one book from a series of seven but it felt like a part of her being. She rarely let on about how much these books meant to her, to others it was simply a series of books that she enjoyed to read but to Olivia it was so much more than that. The ruffled, battered pages proved that. The spine hanging to its last threads proved that. This book saved her life.
A man strode down the street, winding in and out of the bustle of human bodies, a confident elegance in his manner as his leather shoes tapped against the resurfaced pavement. Astute fingers reached up, flicking his jacket collar up against his neck, shielding the taut skin of his throat from the morning chill. He took a sharp left at the corner, walking into the small coffee shop, The Open Book, the usual buzz of noise greeting his ears.
Men and woman sat cluttered around various tables, some on their own, and others in small groups, gossiping over steaming cups of coffee or enjoying the morning’s newspaper. The strong smell of caffeine assaulted his senses, the glint of the television screen in the far corner catching his eye as he joined the back of the queue.
His attention zoned in and out, the figures on the screen nothing but dancing pixels in the blur of his vision, the subtitles hazy smudges. The man shuffled forward in the queue, rubbing absent-mindedly over the strip of white skin that was a few shades paler than the rest of his delicate fingers. He took note of the number of riff raff that began to hang out on the street corner, only a few ever daring to step indoors – it seemed routine. His foot began to tap impatiently against the tiled floor, his eyes slowly drawn back to the screen in the corner, his breath catching in his lungs. The image of a small child flashed before his eyes, the thick blonde curls that hung in tendrils around the sweet heart-shaped face, her blue eyes sparkling on the room. The man swayed on the spot slightly, his mind working overtime, tears rushing to the corners of his eyes, daring to fall. It couldn’t be true – they’d have rung him. He had rights, if there was one thing he damn sure knew he had in this country, it was rights.
He distantly heard someone shouting ‘next’ and the impatient sighs from those behind as he slowly took his time. He stumbled forward, not quite seeing where he was going as he collided with something solid, burning hot liquid spilling down the front of his suit.
‘Oi, you watch where you’re goin’, mate,’ shouted the stranger, the vein on his large forehead bulging slightly. ‘I just gone an’ bought that, you prick.’
(This is part of a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)
Top Ten Tuesday time! I decided to blog about the young adult fantasy reads I’m hoping to dive in to as I’ve tried to set a goal to read more of them this year. My read count is currently nine – one of which I couldn’t bring myself to finish and another was a re-read – so technically seven. If you have any recommendations then please drop me a comment below as I’d love to know what book to read next.
1. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser: I’ve only just recently stumbled across this book and I am so intrigued. A romantic fantasy with a headstrong heroine, smuggling, water gods and ships! Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate.
2. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: Did someone say magic in modern day New York? You did? Yas. The Mageus (magic wielders) live in the shadows, hiding who they are. It’s starting to sound a little like Harry Potter but I’m game. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power — and often their lives. The wait until July is going to be painful.
3. Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau: A sweeping fantasy about two royal siblings forced to compete for the crown. With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal? I’m a lot more excited about this book now than I was when I first heard about it.
4. Wicked Like Wildfire by Lana Popović: A novel about a bargain that binds the fates — and hearts — of twin sisters to a force larger than life. when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. I haven’t seen a lot of YA books with strong relationships between siblings so I’m interested in how this plays out.
5. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller: I am really excited to read this. I need more badass pirate ladies in my life. Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.
6. The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty: An obstinate girl who will not be married. A soldier desperate to prove himself. A kingdom on the brink of war. I am ready for a political uprising. Give it to me.
7. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller: The first book in a duology that features a gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action. Supposedly tailored towards fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, I’m interested to see how this book pans out.
8. Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett: Set in a fictional Himalayan kingdom, this is the story of a girl enlisted by a legendary explorer to help him climb the kingdom’s deadliest mountain – only to discover that his true mission may threaten her whole world. Are you intrigued because I am intrigued?
9. Frost Blood by Elly Blake: The frost king will burn. Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
10. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: When a book blogger becomes an author. Hell yaas. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
It’s been a few months since we’ve done our monthly anticipated reads but it’s okay, we’re back now! We’ve only got 6 books that we’re hotly anticipating this month: 3 young adult titles and 3 psychological thrillers. Aren’t these book covers are so pretty?
I haven’t had a chance to start reading The Conqueror’s Saga or the Ivory and Bone series yet but I really, really need to and so do you if you haven’t done so yet. One is a brutal alternate historical retelling of the Prince of Wallachia with a calculating female antihero (expect lots of death!) and the other is a prehistoric fantasy with allusions to Pride and Prejudice. You want to read them don’t you? Same. And then our Queen of Everything, Victoria Schwab, is back with the conclusion of her Monsters of Verity series. Excitement cannot be contained. (And if you haven’t read them, then we highly recommend that you read all of Schwab’s other books as well. The woman has a gift.)
Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror’s Saga, #2
Release Date: June 27th
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity, #2
Release Date: June 13th
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
Tehe Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Release Date: June 1st 2017
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.
For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.
Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…
Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
Release Date: June 27th (August 10th in the UK)
Genre: Psychological thriller, Suspense, Mystery
Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.
Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.
Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Release Date: June 15th 2017
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
The text message is just three words: I need you.
Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.
Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.
At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?
And how much can you really trust your friends?
Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh
Series: Ivory and Bone, #2
Release Date: June 13th 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
In the sequel to Ivory and Bone —the prehistoric fantasy novel that New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman described as a “richly crafted world of life-and-death stakes”—the story shifts to Mya’s viewpoint as vengeful adversaries force her to flee the life she once knew.
After surviving the chaotic battle that erupted after Lo and the Bosha clan attacked, now Mya is looking ahead to her future with Kol. All the things that once felt so uncertain are finally falling into place. But the same night as Kol and Mya’s betrothal announcement, Mya’s brother Chev reveals his plan to marry his youngest sister Lees to his friend Morsk. The only way to avoid this terrible turn of events, Morsk informs Mya when he corners her later, is for Mya to take Lees’ place and marry him herself.
Refusing to marry anyone other than her beloved, and in an effort to protect her sister, Mya runs away to a secret island with Lees. And though it seems like the safest place to hide until things back home blow over, Mya soon realizes she’s been followed. Lurking deep in the recesses of this dangerous place are rivals from Mya’s past whose thirst for revenge exceeds all reason.
With the lives of her loved ones on the line, Mya must make a move before the enemies of her past become the undoing of her future.
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on March 28th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
This is the first book by Laini Taylor I have ever read and I was not disappointed in the slightest. Whimsical prose, vengeful gods, relentless nightmares – this book was beautiful, dreamy and delightfully strange. I’ve never read a book quite like it.
The world building of Strange the Dreamer is vast and mysterious. We learn of a strange city, its name ripped from the minds of all who know it, with only the word ‘weep’ left in its place. Lazlo, our resident orphaned Librarian has dedicated his life to unravelling the mysteries of Weep. It’s not a mystery that can be regurgitated and retold by the words of a blogger, but a mystery to be read firsthand in the words of the author. So if you’re intrigued by what you’ve seen, read this delightful book!
Strange the Dreamer plays on the old cliche of the tragic orphan answering the “call to adventure” despite his apparent “lack” of talents. But he can speak in their tongue and tell a good tale so bonus points to him. Is he destined to be a hero? You betcha. Does he learn about his true heritage? You betcha. Does it shock the reader? Not so much. Can you feel how this may come across as slightly cliche? Will you notice it whilst reading it? Probably not. You’ll be more distracted by how beautifully written this book is more than anything else. (At least, I hope you are. I certainly was.)
For the most part the pace to this novel is slow, the world being crafted piece by piece with each page you turn (which was a slight drag). It’s not until the last third of the book that things start to happen. Even then, it’s not until you reach the last 10% of the book where things start to get really interesting. Unfortunately the twists lack the punch they deserve when you consider the cliche the novel is written around.
I can safely say that I will be reading Laini Taylor’s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series very, very soon.