Best of 2018…

                                                                              The Best of 2018!!!

Hi all!!! 

I can’t believe that we are already at the end of 2018! It feels like this year has been extraordinarily long, but has gone by in a flash at the same time, if that makes sense. This year has certainly seen its share of highs and lows, but I hope that your year in books has been one of the highlights! Despite reading quite a bit less than I did last year, thanks to a marked uptick in work and several reading slumps, I can say that my literary journey was definitely a high note of the year. I read so many wonderful books this year from many, many wonderful authors- from old favorites to debuts. It was very difficult to narrow down my favorite reads of the year, so much so that I had to choose a fiction a non-fiction as I couldn’t decide between the final two! So, without further ado- my favorite books of 2018: 

                                Favorite Fiction of 2018: For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

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This book, the first in a new series by the amazing author of The Girl from Everywhere duology (another favorite of mine!), was released at the end of September of this year. It is a hefty book at a little over 500 pages (hardback edition), but I got so absorbed in it and it read so quickly that I read it while on a weekend trip. The world building was so phenomenal and the writing so lyrical (literally at times!), that it was easy to get swept away in the novel. I loved the strong female lead, and that this was an own voices novel so the writing was true to the character. This is technically YA Fantasy, but anyone who is a fan of well written fantasy would enjoy this. You can find the full review here: For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, Book 1)

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Muse-Fire-Heidi-Heilig/dp/0062380818/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546224730&sr=8-1&keywords=for+a+muse+of+fire

                            Favorite Non-Fiction of 2018: Becoming by Michelle Obama

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After the review that was posted yesterday, this may come as no surprise, but this is definitely the bet non-fiction that I read this year. This memoir was published in mid November, and I read it while I was on vacation. It took me a bit to write my review, because there was so much that I wanted to say about it, but I didn’t want to just summarize the entire book. I find Michelle Obama so inspirational, and this book made her even more so. She was open, witty, honest, funny, and relatable. This book left me with a feeling of hope. If you’re looking to add more memoirs to your reading list this year and haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it! Find my initial review here: Becoming

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Michelle-Obama/dp/1524763136/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546225152&sr=8-1&keywords=becoming+michelle+obama

I hope that you guys enjoy these as much as I did! What were your favorite reads of 2018? Anything that I should check out? I’ll be spending the next couple of days attempting to get together some semblance of a reading list for the first part of 2019. There are some exciting new books coming out this year!!

I wish you all an amazing new year!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spooktober Recommendation

Hi all!!

While I’m traveling & don’t have great signal to post a long post (and I’m finishing up my current read), I thought I’d recommend a book that I initially reviewed back in 2015, The Glittering World by Robert Levy. This is a great Spooktober read, in my opinion! It’s kind of a supernatural thriller/ dark fantasy with a great creep factor to it. It deserves so much love!!

Here’s the initial review of it:

https://thenovelgirlreads.com/2015/08/05/the-glittering-world/

Go! Read! Enjoy!

Always,

– T

For a Muse of Fire (For a Muse of Fire, Book 1)

For a Muse of Fire cover

Author: Heidi Helig

Series: For a Muse of Fire

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 512

 

Jetta and her parents are shadow players, and thanks to Jetta’s powerful ability, they have become the most famous troupe in Chakrana. Jetta, you see, holds the power of blood magic. She is able to see the souls of the departed and, using her blood, bind them to her shadow puppets (or paper, leaves, people…). This allows her to control the puppets without strings. It is also forbidden under the new regime. In their war-torn country, however, their skill is the best way for them to earn money and a way to Aquatan. Rumor has it that the Mad King found a spring there that helped to cure his melheur. Jetta needs that cure… As they are on the way, they are forced to join forces with a young smuggler (Leo) who has secrets of his own, and eyes that seem to see right through to the heart of Jetta’s secrets. As they make deals with one another, and attempt to make their way forward, they must all face decisions and truths that they never imagined and wonder if they will make it out alive.

This is the first book in a new trilogy from the lovely Heidi Heilig. It is much different from The Girl From Everywhere duology, but one can definitely tell that it is Heilig’s voice in this novel. It took me a little while to write this review, because I have a lot to say, but was not really sure how to start. First, the writing is absolutely beautiful. It moves at a smooth pace, and doesn’t ever really waver. There were no really slow parts, that books of this length can sometimes suffer from. It wasn’t overly wordy, it just had a lot to say. The story itself was interwoven with sheet music, letters, excerpts from plays, maps, and other documents that truly enriched the storyline. The world building was phenomenal. The rich Asian cultural elements mixed with the French-inspired colonialism paints a vivid picture. Once that it combined with the beautifully written folklore and Heilig’s writing of this fantasy world, it is definitely hard to put down.

Now, let’s get to the characters. As it should be, this was the heart of the story. These characters, not only the leading lady but the more secondary players as well, were so well written and multi-dimensional that I truly felt for them, and felt that I knew them, by the end of the book. Jetta, is struggling. It has been confirmed as canon that she is bipolar, but if you have ever known and loved someone who is bipolar you won’t need me to tell you that. She makes these amazingly impulsive decisions while in these high, manic periods that feel so right at the time that she is making them. She is sure that they will work out, and that she is doing the only thing that can be done. She then goes in to her depressive periods that leave her tired, weary, and questioning all of the decisions that she made while in her manic state. She believed that she was seeing things clearly, but it’s like everything slows down, and she can see it all in slow motion and truly grasp what has happened and the possible consequences. Heilig allowed this to be very visible to the reader, so it truly made Jetta a more relatable character and showed the drive behind her decision-making processes. On another note, the reader may catch that Jetta appears to be drawn to several different characters at different times- it has also been confirmed as canon that she is queer, which just makes her character even more interesting and well rounded. Leo is another wonderfully complex character. I mentioned earlier that he has his own secrets (which I won’t reveal here), but he is incredibly well fleshed out, complex, and so well written. Jetta’s parents, too, have their own secrets that they are hiding, their own struggles, worries, and concerns, and are very well rounded and relatable characters. You can feel their struggles as they are attempting to make the decisions that are the smart decisions, not the easy ones.

I can easily say that this is the best book that I have read thus far this year, and it is going to be very difficult to beat. If you are a fan of wonderful, rich fantasy, please give this one a try!

 

 

Circle of Shadows Cover Reveal

You Guys!!! The Circle of Shadows (new love coming from the one and only Evelyn Skye) cover is here!!!

Circle of Shadows cover

Isn’t it gorgeous??!! I am so excited about this new work from her!! As I’m sure you all remember, her Crown’s Game duology has a very special place in my heart (and on my shelf), so I can’t wait to see what she gives us with this! If you would like to read about it, here is the link to the GR page!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35553692-circle-of-shadows

Enjoy!!!

Undercurrents: An Anthology of What Lies Beneath

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Author: Multiple

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Publisher: WordFire Press

Pages: 334

 

I was asked by one of the authors of this anthology to review this book for the release, and I am so glad that he asked me to do this! I absolutely loved it! The stories included in this compilation range from strange and creepy to outright scary, and there was not one of them that I can honestly say that I just didn’t enjoy. There were some, however, that stood out for me. One that really stood out for me was The Kraken’s Story by Robert J. McCarter. THe reason that this one stood out, in my mind, was the POV that it was told from: the Kraken’s. I do believe that this is the first time that I have read a story told from the POV of a Kraken, and it was very different (in a good way!). One of the stories that I just loved was Gregory D. Little’s A Marsh Called Solitude. The writing was beautiful, with wonderfully developed characters. It feels like he was able to put so much in to a short story. It is the writing that I have come to expect from him in a neat little package. One of my other favorites has to be Sea Dreams, written by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. The writing was also very lovely in this story, and the underlying message of friendship is an important one.

If you love short stories (we all know that I love them by now!) and sci-fi/fantasy, I think that you will really enjoy this anthology. You are getting so much packed in to this one book!

Passenger (Passenger, Book 1)

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Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series: Passenger Duology

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 496

 

Etta Spencer is a violin prodigy, determined to play her debut and make her way in the professional music world. In one night, everything that she knows and loves is ripped from her, as she is torn from her world and her time, and forced to travel years from her home. She didn’t even know that this was possible until her legacy was forced upon her. Nicholas Carter is living his life upon the open seas, free from a family and burden that have plagued him for years. The sudden arrival of Etta upon his ship, however, changes all of that for him. He must now journey through time with her to find a powerful object that this family believes that only Etta can find for them.

I decided to start the year out re-reading this fun novel that I read, but didn’t review, at the end of last year. I really, really enjoyed this story. The writing was beautiful. The character development was great. It was much better than I have been seeing in many YA novels of late. The world building was phenomenal! I felt that I was on the journey with them, and I wanted to keep going! Fortunately, I am about to re-join all of our players in the sequel of this duology, Wayfarer. You can look for that review to come sometime in February. One thing that I truly enjoyed about this YA was that, while there was a bit of a romantic element to the story, it wasn’t so heavy on the romance that it overtook the rest of the story. It also wasn’t an overly anguished YA romance, which was refreshing. If you enjoy time travel adventure in your fantasy, this is a great book to look in to!

The New Dark

The New Dark cover

Author: Lorraine Thomson

Series: The Dark Times

Genre: Dystopian/Fantasy

Publisher: Bastei Entertainment

Pages: 221

 

Sorrel lives in a world with no power, little food, and limited people and entertainment. She is fairly content in her walled in village, though, where everyone works together to get by. She has her mother, her siblings, and the boy she likes seems to have chosen her back. Things seem to be ok, for the most part, until the day that the mutants came. They ripped her family from her, and took David and several other kids from the village as hostages. Sorrel sets out on a journey that she may or may not survive, determined to get David and her youngest brother, Eli, back from the mutants, or die trying.

I really enjoyed this Thomson novel. It has been a while since I have read a dystopian, so it was fun to journey back in to a dystopian land. The world-building was well done in this book. The only real issue that I had with it, is that we don’t really get any type of a back-story at all as to what lead to this new era. It would have been nice to have gotten some hint as to the past issues that lead up to the now. That may very well be a personal preference, though, and did no really detract from the visualization of the current world. The main players are all well developed, if not always likeable. Likeability in the mc’s is certainly not something that is a must-have for me to enjoy the book, although I do need to understand their motivation, which was evident in this case. One thing that this book has, that I was not expecting, was the added bonus of making me consider morality: Who truly were the “good” and “bad” beings, in this case? Was it the humans or the mutants? Were any of them truly good or bad, or is it a matter of the position that you can place yourself in to see their point of view the most easily? I was not expecting that out of this novel at all, but it was certainly there. I always enjoy it when a book can make me consider things a bit deeper. The only other criticism that I found was that it did drag a bit in some parts, although it picked back up soon after, so it was not an issue to push through those areas. Overall, this was a good start to, what will be, a new trilogy. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

 

Immortal Resistance: Division 3 (The Berkano Vampire Collection)

Immortal Resistance

Author: Lisa Carlisle

Series: The Berkano Vampire Collection

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Indie

Pages: 248

 

Nalia has held a grudge against that Makara Coven since they turned her away as a child. In order to secure their assistance in helping save her village from the vampires, she swallows her pride and agrees to return to them for help. After an attack, however, she winds up stranded. As she is alone, and attempting to find her way, a starving vampire finds her and offers to help her. That help won’t come free, though. Nalia must make a tough decision. The wrong choice could prove devastating, and not only to Nalia herself…

 

Witches and Vampires from Lisa Carlisle…do I need to day more? Ok, fine, I will! The newest work is a standalone in the Berkano Vampire Collection (No worries, they can be read in any order!). This is the first of this collection that I have read, but I definitely want to read more! Carlisle’s world building was phenomenal, as always. It was so easy to get lost in this world, and just want to stay there. The character development was also as great as her other works. Each of the characters was fully fleshed out, and it was easy to see where and why they belonged in the story. I love everything that I read from Carlisle, but this is easily one of my favorites. I hope that you guys enjoy it as much as I did!