Circle of Shadows

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Author: Evelyn Skye

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Pages: 464

Sora and her gemina, Daemon, are apprentices in the Society of Taigas- warriors who are chosen by the goddess Luna and trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect Kichona. The kingdom has been relatively free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion a decade before, when the now Empress Aki had to fight her twin, Prince Gin, to the death for rule of Kichona. He was letting the power go to his head and was set to lead the kingdom in a dangerous direction. While on a scouting mission in the time leading up to their graduation, Sora and Daemon come up on an encampment that seems a bit off. They make a decision that may change Sora’s life and the life of everyone’s life around her forever. 

This is the first book in a new duology from the phenomenal Evelyn Skye (you’ll remember her from my gushing about The Crown’s Game duology!)!! This book was beautiful! I mean that in every way. The cover was beautiful, the writing was beautiful, the plot was beautiful, you get the point. Let me break it down for you, though. Obviously, you can see the cover, and it is even prettier in person (I’m a sucker for a pretty hardcover). The characters were all so well developed. The two main characters, Sora and Daemon, were obviously the most fleshed out, as they are the focal point of the story. The secondary characters, however, also have great stories, were incredibly well developed through the story, and a couple of them actually ended up being some of my favorites. The plot is fresh and new, which is something that I was looking for. It moved along at a great pace, so this long book really read quickly. Honestly, The Crown’s Game duology is one of my absolute favorite series (one that I recommend very often), so I was a little afraid. Trust me when I say that I was not disappointed in the least! I’m just sad I have to wait for the next one to find out what happens now. If you’re looking for a new, fun YA fantasy give this one a try! 

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!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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!

 

 

For a Muse of Fire is here!!!

You guys- It’s release day, and I have it in my hot little hands!!! I’m so excited!!!!

I’ll be reading it this week, but I know I’ll be where I don’t have wi-fi this weekend. If I don’t get the review up before I leave, I’ll post when I return home😊😊

In case you need a reminder, here’s the link to my first look post about this gem:

https://thenovelgirlreads.com/2018/02/21/for-a-muse-of-fire-first-look-squeee/

Go, get, enjoy!!!

Always,

-T

Circle of Shadows Cover Reveal

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

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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!!!

Fresh Ink

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Editor: Lamar Giles

Genre: YA Fiction

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 208

 

This is an anthology that was written in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. It includes never before seen works from thirteen of YA’s most recognizable, diverse authors: ten short stories, one graphic story, and a one-act play. I am thrilled to have been allowed to early review this amazing collection of short fiction, that is just demanding to be read, shared, and talked about!

Let me just begin by saying- Wow! After reading the early synopsis of this anthology, and learning who the authors contributing to it were, I had high hopes… I mean really high. This blew them away! Every one of these short stories had something very important to say, and they all made their point in the best way possible. I may not have been able to personally identify with all of the characters in these stories, but the message of each was not lost on me. These authors are all so brilliant, that it is really hard to pick a favorite story out of this collection. If pushed to choose, I would have to say that Eraser Tattoo (Jason Reynolds), Why I Learned to Cook (Sara Farizan), Don’t Pass Me By (Eric Gansworth), Meet Cute (Malinda Lo), and Tags (Walter Dean Myers) really stood out to me. All of the stories were just long enough to pique the reader’s interest, tell their story, and then leave you wanting more. This is an anthology that has been needed for some time, especially in this climate, and I am so glad that it is here! It is bound to be a hit, and one that will last for a long time to come. Now…Can we get another one of these, please? Fresher Ink, anyone?!

 

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!

Mask of Shadows

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Author: Linsey Miller

Genre: Fantasy/YA Fantasy

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

 

Sallot Leon, better known as Sal, is a street fighter and an excellent thief. Sal, however wants more from life than robbing nobles and fighting. In the midst of a robbery one day, Sal finds a flyer for auditions for the position of Opal in the Queen’s Left Hand- her personal assassins, named after the rings on her left hand, and decides to go for it. The auditions turn out to be not only training, but a fight to the death with the other contestants. This is a fight that Sal may not be prepared for, but is determined to win and get revenge for their country that was destroyed by the nobles that are in the capitol and the heart of Elise, who they are growing closer and closer to. Will Sal survive to live out this dream?

Guys, I finished this book, and immediately said that I needed more! Seriously, check my Twitter feed! This is that wonderful rare occasion where I have trouble believing that this is a debut novel. The characters were so well rounded and fleshed out. I absolutely loved that the main character, Sal, was gender fluid. It made this character all the more interesting, and definitely an underrepresented community that we should see more of. Miller writes characters that you want to become invested in. The world building was so lovely, and easily visualized. It had enough romance in it to add to the story, but not so much as to make it the focus. This is written as a YA Fantasy, but truthfully it is just a very well written Fantasy that would appeal to anyone looking for that type of escape. I can’t wait to find that escape again in the next installment!

The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere, Book 2)

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Author: Heidi Heilig

Series: The Girl from Everywhere

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 464

 

This sequel to The Girl from Everywhere finds us once again aboard the ship Temptation, where it is now Nix’s turn to take the helm and try and change fate- this time the fate is her own and Kashmir’s. After everything that happened in Hawaii, the crew find themselves back in New York where Nix finds out that it has been seen that she is destined to lose her love. She can’t imagine her life without Kash, and is determined to find a way to change this destiny, when the possibility presents itself. Is it possible to change fate? What is she willing to give up to change time?

This is one of those wonderful instances where the sequel was as good as, or possibly better than, the original book in the series. Heilig’s writing is rich and captivating. Her characters, even the secondary ones, all have great depth. The world building is absolutely phenomenal. I would say that it is even better in this installment than it was in the first. I loved that this book had some chapters told from Kash’s POV, so we got an even better look in to his mind and thoughts. Although I have always been a fan of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genres, I have never been one to be caught up in anything involving time travel. This series, however, has grown to be one of my favorites. The only hesitation that I would have, is that this was originally slated to be a duology. The ending left it open to the possibility of further installments, though, if the author chooses to do so. I, for one, fervently hope that she does, because I would like to see the story go a bit further, and have some questions answered, before we call it the end.