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.

 

Something Like Voodoo Blitz!!

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Something Like Voodoo
by Rebecca Hamilton
Publication date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton

High School can be a witch.

A teen girl with the ability to predict deaths through her drawings shouldn’t need to lie constantly to make her life sound interesting. But that doesn’t stop Emily from spinning stories faster than she can keep up.

After transferring to a new school, Emily’s ‘dull’ life is shaken by the appearance of a boy who seems unfazed by her far-fetched stories. A too-handsome-for-his-own-good senior, Noah has some secrets of his own. He needs Emily’s special gift to save him from Sarah, queen bee of the school’s It Girls, whose own supernatural abilities have forced him into a life of silence and solitude.

But when Emily tries to free him from Sarah’s voodoo curse, things go belly up, landing Emily on Sarah’s hit list. Soon, Emily and Noah are on a collision course with the It Girls, leading to a shocking revelation that ties them together in unimaginable ways. If their powers remain unchecked, this teenage popularity contest could spell the death of them all …

Romantically charged and eerily chilling, Something Like Voodoo weighs the choice of saving your life versus fighting for a life worth saving. This paranormal romance will put a spell on you.

 

Excerpt:

He was being tortured, but by what? And was I the only person seeing all these other things?

The scene flashed like a strobe light in front of me—a flash of the Noah I knew, then a flash of the painted Noah that made no sense. I scoured the room for someone to help, but no one else seemed to notice what was going on. Except for Sarah, her glower across the room turning to a maniacal grin.

“STOP!” I screamed at her.

The unexplainable vision melted away. Standing at the cafeteria doors, Sarah gave one last smirk before turning on her heel and walking away. A crowd of people hovered near us. The school nurse appeared next, hurrying as quickly as her short legs would carry her.

“Paramedics are on the way,” she said as she arrived, kneeling beside me. “Everyone, please, go back to your tables.”

When no one listened, she yelled, “Go!” This cleared away a few of them. I didn’t leave. Noah’s head still rested in my lap, his eyes closed, though he wasn’t convulsing anymore. His body had gone limp, the rise and fall of his chest nearly unperceivable.

“What happened?” the nurse asked.

Before I could answer, the EMTs rushed in with a stretcher. They pulled him away, yelling all sorts of things I couldn’t understand as they started performing CPR.

“Hang in there, buddy,” one of them said. He passed some small white tube-like packet under his nose, but nothing happened. “Can you hear me?”

No response. At this point, I thought Noah had stopped breathing, making me feel more hopeless than I’d ever felt in my life. What in the hell did Sarah do to him?

More CPR. More failure.

“It’s not working!” said the attending EMT. He put his ear to Noah’s chest then nodded toward the exit. “He’s breathing, but his heart rate is low. We need to transfer him now.”

And just like that, Noah was gone, flying away on that stretcher like a helium balloon in the wind.

Purchase:
(99¢ for 2 days only!)

 

rebecca-hamilton

AUTHOR BIO:
Rebecca Hamilton writes Paranormal Fantasy, Horror, and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and four kids, along with multiple writing personalities that range from morbid to literary. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently.

Rebecca Hamilton is represented by the ever-more-amazing Rossano Trentin of TZLA.

Author links:
http://www.rebeccahamiltonbooks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRebeccaHamilton/
https://twitter.com/InkMuse
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5295294.Rebecca_Hamilton