Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: New to Me Authors I Read in 2018

Howdy!

It’s the first ever Top 10 Tuesday for my blog! One of my resolutions for this year is to add more content to GoodeyReads and I know this will be a step in the right direction.

This is a handful of New to Me authors (and I defined that by those I hadn’t read before, but maybe knew who they were) from last year!

Cinda Williams Chima

Oh y’all. This was one of my top favorite series from last year, and it is on my all time list. WHY DID I WAIT TO READ THIS? I’m super excited to start her following series, Shatter Realms, soon.

Brandon Sanderson

I held off on reading Sanderson for fear I wouldn’t love him as much as everyone else seems to. I was wrong. This series is wonderful, I’m currently in the midst of The Hero of Ages and plan to continue listening to the Cosmere.

Grace Draven

Seen on a Bookstagram post I took a leap of faith and absolutely adored this fantasy romance. It was different, passionate, and I have plans to read more of her books this year!

Rachel Caine

These are the first dystopian-based books I have read in a long time and have been completely enraptured (after the Hunger Games/Divergent era I was so over the concept). I love The Great Library series and can’t wait til the next book comes out.

Kristina Perez

My first of her books (and I believe one of her first novels too!). Totally swept away in this historical, magical romance. I was shook at the ending (because I did not know the tale it’s based off of) so I am all for the sequel this fall!!

Ron Chernow

I went through a history phase during the summer and read both of these practically back to back (these are 2,000 pages combined — yikes). I love love the way Chernow writes. It’s a history book that I’m captivated by. He tells the good, bad, and ugly of these men and I feel such a deeper understanding of American history by reading them.

Adrienne Young

VIKINGS Y’ALL. A beautiful debut standalone. She announced plans for a new book soon in the same realm (but years later with a new main character) and I squealed when I heard.

Kristin Hannah

Historical fictions are my jam. I was so engrossed in this I’m pretty sure I finished it in a day. It’s heart-breaking, soul-finding, and a strong story of a heroine I could cheer for.

Neal Shusterman

OH MY GOODNESS. THIS SERIES IS AMAZING. A librarian convinced me I would appreciate these, and she was on point (don’t we all love librarians?). Jaw dropping twists and cliff hangers galore.

Holly Black

Oh, I know at this point you’ve heard of her too. I never realized what I was missing until these cruel and wicked tales (see what I did there?). I think I’ll be looking in to her other books this year.

There ya have it! Ten authors I only read last year. Which authors are some of your fav? Did I definitely wait too long on some? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review

Review: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA fantasy, no language, violence, romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world. 

THE SEQUEL SURVIVES.

I totally, thoroughly enjoyed this wicked tale. Was it the best sequel ever? Maybe not, but it was wrapped up in so many devious plots that I enjoyed it all.

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder.”

“Someone tries to betray the The High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.

– The High King, Cardan

I mean, look at that quote. Cardan for all of his twisted ways, is not a murderer. Unlike our lovely seneschal, Jude. This is what makes this series the height of amusement.

I love how cruel and tortured these souls are. Jude remains plagued by her obsessive need for power, yet struggles at some of the most basic emotions. She’s ambitious, reckless and morally gray. Cardan on the other hand has this complete layered sense of wickedness. He is so complex and I would totally love a POV from him. The High King is an amazing villain/anti-hero.

“I want to tell you so many lies.”

Now put those two together and the craziest level of sexual tension ensues. Oh, they drove me batty. They both lack the fundamental rule of a ‘relationship” (that being trust) and in losing this, have created a beautiful tragic love that will probably end up in flames. Though I’m truly counting on them working it out. I’m all for a reunion scene, am I right? They both deserve to love and be loved and I need everyone happy okay??

The pacing is a little slow in this book, as I feel it suffers the plague of the sequel. I wasn’t really invested til about halfway and then within the final few pages things darn well blew up. SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!? The most wicked of all the books will be coming next year, that ending about guarantees it. Jude completely gets what she deserves [and I secretly love it, but also hope she gets revenge all in the same breath].

There’s plenty of characters I would willing stab myself for Jude and I am eagerly anticipating how Black destroys them in the finale. Taryn, Locke, Nicasia, Madoc, Orlagh, I mean, y’all, I have a list.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • No language
  • Violence: some gore, knives, poison, torture, enchantments
  • Romance: a bit of kissing, a lightly detailed love scene, discussion of how faeries love to be naked
  • Trigger warnings: alcohol, bullying
Book Review

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: YA fantasy, a little language, some romance, violence
Length: 300 pages
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: McElderberry Books
Release Date: September 26th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel. 

IT WAS CUTE.

I had seen this book floating around bookstagram for the gorgeous cover. So this became a total cover buy since it was created by one of my favorite artists.

We had some of the typical trope characters, a cocky fae-prince and a human girl. They were a pretty funny pair. I found myself laughing out loud on occasion. I’m a sucker for anytime a fae interacts with the human world. They say the darndest things.

“I was merely astonished that so many tools of your Craft can double as armaments. Is there anything you humans don’t use to kill one another?”

– Rook, referring to a skillet (which made me think of Rapunzel from Tangled)

There is definitely instant love in this book. But what I found as sort of it’s own dissection of the concept, Isobel realizes how ridiculous it is that she thinks she’s fallen in love so quickly. She was a true real human. Discussing how filthy she felt, the pimple on her forehead made her much more relatable and I was thinking, yeah girl same, that does suck.

My biggest issue was pacing. It’s a standalone so I understand the need for a bit of a rush. There was so much time spent on details that the story was getting shoved forward quicker than necessary. Pretty prose is nice, but I personally prefer when more time is spent on the scene, not the trees surrounding the scene. I was hoping for a deeper story line.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • A little bit of language
  • Violence: swords, some gore
  • Romance: a somewhat intense-ish make-out, kisses

Publishing Day

Happy Publishing Day: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden

Happy publishing day to one of my favorite series! I was so excited when I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Del Rey, through Netgalley.

Synopsis:

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

Y’all this series gives me life. I loved it so much. It’s so beautiful and you should definitely be adding this to your TBR stat.

My original review can be found here!

Book Review

Review: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency period paranormal/fantasy, young adult, no language, little romance, violence
Length: 544 pages
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: December 14th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Eon and Eona; a Regency adventure series starring a stylish and intrepid Buffy-esque demon-hunter

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

REGENCY PERIOD FOR THE WIN.

This was so fun. There was a lot of work that went into this by the author. Goodman did so much research to make sure that her world depicted London in 1812. It was fantastic. Regency books are some of my favorite and this was very well done. YAY!

Y’all I love Lord Carlston. Because I am a total sucker for brooding men with some dark secrets that are [hopefully] marshmallows. I have high hopes for him. He better not disappoint. I am however, completely on the fence about the Duke. I don’t know where I stand, but I’m not really shipping him at all right now. And we all know, my series love can fall apart if who I ship first off doesn’t end up happening. THE SUSPENSE WILL END ME.

I liked Helen overall. Since she unfortunately had no idea about her powers she is a bit naive in this book. Having to learn everything, and understand the world of the Dark Days Club takes over half the book. I’m looking forward to her character growing as the series does. I want an awesome, sword fighting, Jane Austen-esque heroine.

The magic system in this book is complicated. And that’s probably my biggest reason for 4 stars. It sounded awful to actually be a Reclaimer. The 101 things that have to be done just to see the Deceiver, destroy them, their progeny and the like blew my mind. It was too intricate for me to see the fun in being a part of the Club. I will give points for everything being explained even if I didn’t fully grasp it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical-fiction, Regency period, paranormal [demons]
  • No explicit language: use of the word whore and others like it for the time period
  • Violence: demons with whip-like extensions, knives, physical, gory-detailed scenes
  • Romance: a passionate kiss, discussion of some sexual things
Book Review

Review: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Epic fantasy, no language, a little romance, a lot of violence
Length: 590 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: August 21st, 2007
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire. Three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

EPIC FANTASY.

Note: I listened to this through Audible (not an ad, just a FYI) with Michael Kramer as the narrator. I loved it! He does a wonderful job of voices, diction, and tone that I can easily listen to the book.

This series [so far] has truly been the epitome of what I consider epic fantasy. A long book filled with great world building, a lot of action, a side or two of romance, a dose of politics and so much more.

Though, y’all. Be warned, Sanderson is not afraid to kill of characters. I may or may not have shouted THAT’S NOT FAIR! one or two times. I’m still upset, clearly. But there was a handful of depths where I shrugged and moved on. My emotional attachment only runs so deep for some of the crew.

Still totally obsessed with Vin and Elend. Now, I think a little more romance could’ve have been injected into their story. It flew in and out so fast that I was left wanting a little more of them without the pressures of saving Luthadel. They both made some poor choices in this book, but I love that they also never gave up on each other. There really is a strong bond between them that is so sweet to watch.

They’re so many side characters. It would take me way too long to dive into all of them. My favorites are definitely OreSeur, Hammond and Sayzid. And if they don’t survive the next book I don’t know what will happen. I love that with the random side character POVs we’re allowed into their minds (i.e. Sayzid, Brees, Dockson, etc.). Everyone is unique and I understand their choices and intentions.

I was holding my breath til the end. Where a few pieces to the puzzle were placed. I’m still so in the dark, and I am loving it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Epic fantasy
  • No language
  • Romance: a kiss or two, some hugs
  • Violence: knives, physical
Book Review

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy re-telling, no language, a little love, some violence, disability rep
Length: 496 pages
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Expected Release Date: January 29th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. 

*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Bloomsbury YA, for the opportunity to read A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Publication date, length, etc. subject to change.

OVERALL, PRETTY GOOD.

I think the hype from this book did get me a little. I did really enjoy it, and got through it fast, but it wasn’t everything I expected it to be. I was completely pulled in for the first few chapters, and it’s comforting “knowing” (since it’s a re-tell) what’s going to happen and reading the take the author spun on it.

I’ve read a good handful of B&TB (Beauty and the Beast) re-tellings. Everywhere from a loose interpretation (like ACOTAR) to much closer lines (such as Hunted by Meagan Spooner). This falls in the latter category of a very parallel story line.

Some awesome points are the disability representation in the main character, Harper. She has high-functioning cerebral palsy. Harper is capable and strong-minded. Her disability does not define her and she takes it with grace and resilience to still do whatever she wants too. Double points for her love interest, Rhen, never talking down about her either.

I’m not sure that the contemporary aspect (Harper is kidnapped from D.C.) is truly necessary. There wasn’t enough back story to her family, lifestyle, etc. We only know that’s where Grey takes the girls from. I think it could’ve all been done in Emberfall and would’ve still been a unique take on B&TB and would have dampened the “kidnapper vibe.”

I was totally crushing on the castle, y’all it made food every day. Always having food prepared and music to listen too, yeah I could’ve stayed there. Beast or no beast.

Grey should’ve had his own POV. It appears that this is a series (did not know that originally) and he’ll get one in the next book, but a lot of ACSDAL was focused on him, he needed a bigger spotlight. I might have liked him more than Rhen most of the time. He seemed to have a more interesting history that I wanted to know more, more, more of. The twist for him was thrown in so randomly I was thrown off, then realized that must be the set-up for the next book. So I get it, and I love Grey enough to read the next book.

Jake and Noah are a cute addition that I think would be fun to explore their relationship more. Jake was in my face a lot and annoyed me. I think Noah was the real takeaway winner for me. I do think it was a bit convenient that Noah was a doctor *shrugs,* but it worked out fine.

The evil enchantress, Lilith, is cheesy and typical. Her reasons for cursing Rhen were a bit dramatic and petty. Lilith tried too hard and I love to hate corrupt characters which made it disappointing to deal with her.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy, B&TB re-telling
  • No language; Excessive use of the phrase “my lady” though
  • Romance: some kisses
  • A lot of violence: knives, guns, attempted suicide
  • Trigger warnings: discussion of suicide, and attempts