Author: Fonda Lee Series: The Green Bone Saga (#1) Read: May 12th-15th Publisher: Orbit Release Date: November 7, 2017 Genre: urban fantasy Rating:★★★★★
In short: A heart-stopping thriller about family, greed, and crime empires, with a little magic thrown in.
Goodreads: FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING. Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.
Author: R. F. Kuang Series: The Poppy Wars (#1) Read: May 11th-12th Publisher: Harper Voyager Release Date: May 1 Genre: fantasy Rating:★★★★☆
In short: An amazing, engrossing world that comes with a protagonist’s journey that’s impossible to put down.
A NOTE: There’s been a lot of discussion about this book, and I want to make it super clear that the author classifies this as adult. It’s definitely not for younger readers. Here’s a thread discussing trigger warnings that’s worth a glance if you plan on reading The Poppy War. Part of what makes this book’s violence so brutal is that it draws very closely from real life events, so it can get pretty harrowing and I would recommend using caution.
Goodreads: When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
Author: Sharon Shinn Series: Elemental Blessings (#1) Read: January 14th Publisher: Ace Books Release Date: May 10th, 2010 Genre: high fantasy Rating:★★★★★
In short: an inventive, absorbing fantasy world with a great cast of characters. Seriously, read this.
Goodreads: Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.
It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood and the secrets of the royal family she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.
My spring semester is halfway or so over (?!), and predictably enough I haven’t had much time to read for fun. Here are some brief highlights of books I read and loved (some reviews to come!) since last I posted:
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi. Because when a book gets this much praise you have to put down classwork to read it! I stayed up late reading this because I absolutely could not put it down.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. Okay, kind of cheating because I had to read this for class, but boy did this short story collection totally live up to the hype. Machado is unbelievably good.
Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1) by Maureen Johnson. This book didn’t quite take off for me, though it was enjoyable.
Books that I’m going to start reading soon, in no particular order, include The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan, Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton, and Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi. Gotta get that Goodreads challenge back on track (I’m like 90% sure mine isn’t registering some of my recent rereads, so…)!
Also, just a quick note about something else I’m doing—super excited to say I’m with the fabulous reading team at FORESHADOW YA, an online young adult anthology created by Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma. Check us out, and stay tuned for some wonderful short fiction!
Editor: Jennifer L. Armentrout Series: Standalone Read: Jan 2nd-4th Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Release Date: January 2, 2018 Genre: romance Rating:★★★½
In short: The premise is such that some of these stories felt too short, but some were super adorable. I guess that’s to be expected!
Goodreads: Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.
Author: Lianne Oelke Series: Standalone Read: Jan 10th-11th Publisher: Clarion Books Release Date: January 9th, 2018 Genre: contemporary Rating:★★★★★
In short: So unexpectedly good—hilarious and entertaining and a wonderful ride.
Goodreads: The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.
Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.
As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.
Oh yes, there’s five mini reviews headed your way today. I word-vomit about The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden; An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson; The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine; Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner; and The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst.
Some spoilers for prequels of The Cursed Queen and The Reluctant Queen ahead!
I know it’s like, halfway through January but I just realised I never compiled the books I’m most looking forward to for this year. I’ve decided to get my life together, so I’m finally sorting my to-reads by publishing year. Makes me feel excellent and organised. And since I can’t list everything I’m looking forward to, here is the cream of the crop for the first half of 2018.
The Belles (The Belles, #1) by Dhonielle Clayton ▸ February 6
All right. You knew. You knew this would be here. I loved Clayton’s debut, Tiny Pretty Things, and after reading her beautiful story in Meet Cute I knew I was going to be ride-or-die for her. I’m really interested to see how she’ll handle a world where beauty is prized, and knowing that she’ll centre people of colour in her narratives, it’ll be even cooler.
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena ▸ February 27 What’s that? A suspenseful what-happened story about a complicated brown girl? She’s not what she seems? And there’s some romance too? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I’m so excited for Bhathena’s debut novel.
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman ▸ February 27 I think I physically did a double take when I saw that (a) there’s a new Rachel Hartman book out this year and (b) wait, that looks like a dragon on the cover— OH MY GOD. Hartman returns to the world of Seraphina with a brand-new character, and I am so, so there.
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton ▸ March 27
The greatest thing about YA’s retellings craze is that it brings the most wonderful stories a fresh twist—sometimes genuinely obscure ones in need of some recognition, and sometimes ones that have always been there waiting for a spin. This is going to be a big fat birthday present from me to myself. Gratton tackles Shakespeare’s King Lear in a magical world surrounded by enemies. I can’t wait to see her take on the three sisters, and I’m sure it won’t be as simple as ‘but Cordelia was the nicest and truest and that’s it!’
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente ▸ April 3
Again: you knew I’d put Valente’s new novel on here. It’s a sci-fi book about Eurovision in space! Well, not exactly, but basically humankind has just one shot at impressing hostile alien races in a space-wide Eurovision. Find me a premise wilder than that. It’s sure to be magic in Valente’s hands.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland ▸ April 3
This is one of those books I feel like I’ve been waiting on forever—finally finally finally, Justina Ireland’s Civil War-era zombie novel is hitting shelves. Yeah, Civil War-era zombie novel. I take it back, Dread Nation is the best premise on this list. And I so cannot wait.
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma ▸ May15
Okay, this book I definitely have been waiting on forever. A self-proclaimed Bollywood expert has to figure out what’s going on when her supposed soulmate cheats on her and gets the position she wants at the student film festival. Give it to me!
The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde ▸ May22 Goodreads doesn’t have a summary for this book yet, but it’s about Hollywood craziness and bisexuality so I’m basically all about it.
Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi ▸ June 19
Okay, this is one of those vague Goodreads summaries, but it’s basically about a group of female friends finding themselves and that’s all I want ever in a contemporary novel.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, ed. Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman ▸ June 26 To close things out, why not cheat and pick several stories for the price of one? This anthology is full of retellings of East and South Asian mythology, most of which are #ownvoices.
What books are you looking forward to for the next few months?
Author: Olivia A. Cole Series: Faloiv (#1) Read: Jan 9th-10th Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Release Date: January 2nd, 2018 Genre: sci-fi Rating: ★★★★☆
In short: an absorbing, beautiful introduction to a space saga that’s way better than Avatar. It got a little slow-paced at times, but it’s impossible not to be drawn to Octavia’s story.
Goodreads: Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.
But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.
With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
Author: Sara Holland Series: Untitled (#1) Read: January 4th Publisher: HarperTeen Release Date: January 2, 2018 Genre: high fantasy Rating:★★☆☆☆
In short: Oh, where did it all go wrong? An interesting premise, but meh everything else. Unpopular opinion alert.
Goodreads: In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.
No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.
But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.