— Books I’ve Read in 2019 —
THREE WOMEN by Lisa Taddeo
A friend recommended this book. Wow, was it was fascinating.
Sad and fascinating.
I know that too many women probably have had way too many similar experiences like these three women. And all I can say is that we need to demand better for ourselves. And men, you really need to do better, too. We also need to keep having frank conversations. Speaking up.
Now I know why I don’t read much nonfiction. Yikes.
Learn more about Lisa Taddeo here.
NINTH HOUSE (Alex Stern #1)
This is Bardugo’s first adult novel and it’s just as fantastic as her other novels. I whipped through this way too fast. It left me wanting more.
Modern day magic set in the midst of Yale’s “secret” societies? Yes, please.
Alex is a fabulous character. I’m so glad that there will be more Alex Stern books. I’m just sad we’ll have to wait for them.
You can’t rush perfection.
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Leigh Bardugo here.
AT THE MOUNTAIN’S BASE by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre
I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for Traci’s book.
This is such a beautiful story. The moving, almost hypnotic, words evoke powerful imagery, captured so well by illustrator Weshoyot Alvitre.
A family, separated by duty and distance, waits for a loved one to return home in this lyrical picture book celebrating the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots.
At the mountain’s base sits a cabin under an old hickory tree. And in that cabin lives a family — loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. The strength in their song sustains them through trials on the ground and in the sky, as they wait for their loved one, a pilot, to return from war.
With an author’s note that pays homage to the true history of Native American U.S. service members like WWII pilot Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat, this is a story that reveals the roots that ground us, the dreams that help us soar, and the people and traditions that hold us up. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Traci Sorell here.
Learn more about Weshoyot Alvitre here.
TA-DA! by Kathy Ellen Davis, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
I met Kathy Ellen at our SCBWI OK spring conference where she had traveled all the way from California to attend. She was a pure delight – so full of energy! Her book quickly sold out at our conference so I bought a copy from her later and she was more than willing to personalize it for me. She is very active on Instagram and offers a lot of helpful advice for writers and illustrators. She’s one to follow for sure!
And this is such a fun picture book to read aloud! The “Ta-da!” and “Duh duh duh!” repetition make for great page turns – and your audience will be shouting both phrases with enthusiasm by the end of the story.
What makes a good story? One little girl thinks it’s a princess with magical powers that can—ta-da!—overcome any obstacle. Her friend thinks it’s—dun dun duh!—a combination of dragons, pirates, and fire that cause total chaos. But as their stories intertwine, these two young storytellers soon learn that a good story needs both conflict—dun dun duh!—and resolution—ta-da! An irresistible celebration of imaginary play, storytelling, and the joys of collaboration, this gorgeous picture book features two strong voices throughout, making it the perfect read-aloud. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Kathy Ellen Davis here.
Learn more about Kaylani Juanita here.
THE RED SCROLLS OF MAGIC (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare
Finally a series centered on Alex and Magnus!
Can you ever get enough of Magnus? He’s just the best warlock character ever. And his relationship with Alex is so adorable.
The only problem I had reading this first book was keeping it straight in my head where in the Shadowhunter series timeline this fell – and that’s just me.
Loved seeing more about their early days as a couple and how they tried to navigate those awkward moments. Priceless scenes written by Clare. And the whole accidentally starting a cult storyline was hilarious, until it wasn’t.
Set in 2007 (during the Mortal Instruments series, between City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels,) The Red Scrolls of Magic tells the story of Magnus and Alec’s first vacation together, which turns into a wild adventure when Magnus is accused of founding a demon-worshipping cult…
The Eldest Curses series will continue with Lost Book of The White, which is set in 2009 (between The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices). Plot summary from author’s website.
Learn more about Cassandra Clare here.
FEED by M.T. Anderson
I wish I had liked this book more. I think it was the world that I found repulsive and once submerged in it, I didn’t empathize with the characters which made it hard to read or care about them. I didn’t buy the love story at all. It felt artificial, like everything else.
This is NOT a happy book.
I think it’s meant to be a cautionary tale, but I just felt motion-sickness from the bombardment of stimuli in the beginning and couldn’t recover. I do know plenty of people who’ve read it and love it. This one just wasn’t for me.
In a future world where internet connections feed directly into the consumer’s brain, thought is supplemented by advertising banners, and language has gone into a steep decline, a little love story unfolds. Titus, an average kid on a weekend trip to the moon, meets Violet, a brainy girl who has decided to try to fight the feed. Assaulted by a hacker who interrupts their connection, they struggle to understand what has happened to them – and to everyone around them.
In his National Book Award Finalist Feed, M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world – and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about M.T. Anderson here.
THE CRUEL PRINCE (The Folk of the Air #1) THE WICKED KING (The Folk of the Air #2) and THE QUEEN OF NOTHING (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black
The story of a human surviving in the faerie world. By her wits alone.
This was such a fantastic series! I loved it! I raced through the first two books and then was so sad I was going to have to wait so long for the final one. The second one ended on such a cliffhanger! So agonizing! Then I discovered I’d misread the release date and only had to wait one week instead of a year! ELATION!
I DEVOURED the final book!
Plot summary for THE CRUEL PRINCE:
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Plot summary for THE WICKED KING:
Plot summary for THE QUEEN OF NOTHING:
The finale to the New York Times bestselling Folk of Air trilogy, that started with The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, from award-winning author Holly Black.
After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watches her fair share of reality television, and does the odd job or two, including trying to convince a cannibalistic faerie from hunting her own in the mortal world.When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking of a favor, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan.When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and uncover how to break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.
Plot summaries from author’s website.
Learn more about Holly Black here.
THE MODERN FAERIE TALES: Tithe; Valiant; Ironside by Holly Black
This was suggested reading from a friend and I’m so glad I read it! Such a wilder, darker version of the fae world and so fun to read!
I enjoyed the first and third stories more than the the middle one, but they were all enjoyable, nonetheless.
And who knew this would be such important background reading for the next series of hers I would read? I would say more, but SPOILERS!
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself as an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms—a struggle that could very well mean her death. (Plot summary from author’s website)
This special bind-up edition includes Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside.
Learn more about Holly Black here.
SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson
Every woman should read this.
Young, old, and in-between.
This is dedicated to the survivors, and we are all survivors.
Thank you, Ms. Anderson for having the courage to Shout about this important issue and to share your story with us.
This book is even more gut-wrenching and touching than SPEAK, probably because that novel was based on her own experience and this one, even more impactful told in free verse, is a response to that experience among other things. you cannot read this without being monumentally affected by it. Maybe that’s just me.
A searing poetic memoir and call to action from the bestselling and award-winning Laurie Halse Anderson!
Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Laurie Halse Anderson here.
CITY OF GHOSTS (Cassidy Blake #1) by V.E. Schwab
I’ve wanted to read this author for a long time , but the opportunity never came up until this year. Then this book came to me and I jumped on it. I absolutely loved it! Perfectly spooky!
And who wouldn’t want a ghost for a best friend?
I’m looking forward to reading the next one.
Ever since Cassidy Blake almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.
When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined. (Plot summary from author’s website)
Learn more about V.E. Schwab here.
THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon
I’m slowly catching up with my favorite Highlander series. These books are hefty, usually around a thousand pages, so I try to read just one a year, but this time I broke the rules and read two. (Wanted to be caught up before the next season airs this time!)
Still enjoy reading these huge books – they are so different from my usual reads and so detailed, I don’t know how Gabaldon keeps the storylines straight in her head. I love reading stories that I couldn’t or wouldn’t write myself.
THE FIERY CROSS is the fifth book in the OUTLANDER series, following DRUMS OF AUTUMN. Set against the War of the Regulation in North Carolina (the first tax-payer’s rebellion in the American colonies, and a precursor to the full-blown Revolution), the story deals with Jamie Fraser’s efforts to protect his family, build a community on Fraser’s Ridge, and keep his land–this last requiring him to walk a delicate tight-rope between the pressing urgency of the rebellion and the increasingly unsteady but still dangerously powerful government. In these efforts, he’s mostly aided–and occasionally hindered–by his wife Claire, who has become the conjure-woman for the Ridge, his daughter Brianna, whose 20th-century inventiveness may possibly kill them all, and his new son-in-law, Roger MacKenzie, which whom he has a rather wary relationship, owing to his having at one point sold Roger to the Iroquois (under the misapprehension that Roger had raped his daughter, but still…), and to Roger’s sense of inferiority, comparing his own budding skills at swordcraft, farming, and leadership with the man he refers to privately as “The Great Scot.”
It’s a story about loyalty—in which people find what’s most important to them, and just how far they’ll go to protect it. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Diana Gabaldon here.
TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle
I won this book in an SCBWI OK fundraising auction. I’d been wanting to snag a copy for awhile, and this was my moment! I would not be outbid!
I’m so glad I won it, because it is a delightful book to read – filled with great trivia details behind each story that inspires each great drink recipe. What a chore to have to try them all.
Congrats. You fought through War and Peace, burned through Fahrenheit 451, and sailed through Moby-Dick. All right, you nearly drowned in Moby-Dick, but you made it to shore—and you deserve a drink!
A fun gift for barflies and a terrific treat for book clubs, Tequila Mockingbird is the ultimate cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Featuring 65 delicious drink recipes—paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels—the book also includes bar bites, drinking games, and whimsical illustrations throughout.
Even if you don’t have a B.A. in English, tonight you’re gonna drink like you do. Drinks include:
– The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose
– The Last of the Mojitos
– Love in the Time of Kahlua
– Romeo and Julep
– A Rum of One’s Own
– Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margarita
– Vermouth the Bell Tolls
and more! (Book summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Tim Federle here.
THE RULES OF MAGIC by Alice Hoffman
I love Alice Hoffman’s writing, and when I discovered she’d written a prequel for PRACTICAL MAGIC, I couldn’t wait to read it!
This prequel was a delight to read. Getting to see how the two adorably quirky aunts came to be just so, was so wonderful. And finding out about the mysterious origins of the younger girls, was fascinating. I could stay in the world with the Owens family for a summer or two.
Find your magic.
For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1680, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.
Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.
From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Yet, the children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the memorable aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. (Book summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Alice Hoffman here.
UPROOTED by Naomi Novik
A friend suggested this book as a possible comp title for the WIP I am currently writing – as a hint it has something to do with the sinister trees. This story definitely has possibilities for that very thing. It’s also a very compelling story overall. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Book summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Naomi Novik here.
DRUMS OF AUTUMN (Outlander #4) by Diana Gabaldon
Who doesn’t love a little guilty pleasure read now and then? I honestly shouldn’t say ‘little’ because these tomes weigh in at a hefty 1000+ pages each! Still, they are a nice distraction from reality, and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want a totally hot Highlander in a kilt?
What if you knew someone you loved was going to die? What if you thought you could save them? How much would you risk to try?
Claire Randall has gone to find Jamie Fraser, the man she loved more than life, and has left half her heart behind with their daughter, Brianna. Claire gave up Jamie to save Brianna, and now Bree has sent her mother back to the Scottish warrior who was willing to give his life to save them both. But a chilling discovery in the pages of history suggests that Jamie and Claire’s story doesn’t have a happy ending.
Brianna dares a terrifying leap into the unknown in search of her mother and the father she has never met, risking her own future to try to change history . . . and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past . . . or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong. (Book summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Diana Gabaldon here.
STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO by A.S. King
I have been a huge fan of A.S. King ever since I read her novel PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. The voice was so authentic and gut-wrenching. So I devour every book she puts out. This was one no exception. And it was exceptional. LOVED LOVED LOVED!!! A definite must-read. So…what are you waiting for?
Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has “done the art.” She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she explores the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall.
After decades of staying together “for the kids” and building a family on a foundation of lies and violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original —and yet it still hurts. Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of everyday abuse and survival that will linger with readers long after the last page. (Book summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about A.S. King here.
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black
A friend loaned me this book – thrust it into my hands – and said I should read it. I’ve always wanted to read a book by this author, so it was an easy sell.
As I said, this is my first book to read by Holly Black and I was NOT disappointed! Love the mix of modern day with the fae world. Hazel is an awesome character to cheer for. And becoming a sword-fighting hero in your sleep? What girl doesn’t dream about doing that? Great story! I now want to read everything else Ms. Black has ever written.
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough? (Book summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Holly Black here.
WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson
I’ve had several writers recommend this super creeptastic book to me and I finally had the opportunity to read it. This book just sets a permanent shiver down your spine as you are reading it, even during the scenes is bright daylight.
What fascinating characters! You know they are doomed, and probably one of them is a murderer, but you can’t help rooting for them.
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead…(Book summary fro Goodreads.)
Learn more about Shirley Jackson here.
TALES FROM THE SHADOWHUNTER ACADEMY by Cassandra Clare
This is one Shadowhunter book I had not read. When I found myself at the bookstore recently, I came home with it and immediately started reading. I couldn’t remember why Simon had no memories and had to reread the ending of the first series, again. (It had been awhile.) Then I just fell in love with all the characters, again.
It was really great to spend time with Simon and watch his journey to become a Shadowhunter and to learn more about this fabulous world.
Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. The events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. Whomever this new Simon might be.
But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. At least Simon’s trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.
Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. Written by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman, these moving and hilarious short stories are perfect for the fan who just can’t get enough of the Shadowhunters. (Book summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Cassandra Clare here.
TAMMI SAUER BOOKS!!!
NUGGET & FANG GO TO SCHOOL by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Michael Slack
My slacker friend and children’s author Tammi Sauer has only three books releasing this year – I mean, where is her drive?
Of course, being such a good friend, I must help support her during such a dry spell, so I purchased and read all of them. Good thing she dedicated this one to me – well…to ALL of her SCBWI OK pals, of which I am one. 🙂
This is a fun and humorous sea-quel! Great story for encouraging anyone who’s a little worried about the first day of school. So FINE!
When Fang the shark is invited by his friends to attend Mini Minnows Elementary, he thinks it’s a great idea! But then his first day of school arrives . . . and suddenly, he’s not so sure. He’s not very good at reading or math. He doesn’t exactly fit in with his classmates. And the teacher looks crabby! Can Fang’s best friend, Nugget, and the other minnows turn things around and prove to him that school really is fang-tastic?
WORDY BIRDY MEETS MR. COUGARPANTS by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dave Mottram
Our favorite loquacious bird is back in this hilarious sequel! Wordy Birdy uses her power of gab to save the day. A very fun read!
Wordy Birdy and her pals are heading on a camping trip, and our favorite chatty bird is all ready for a big night under the stars. But the friends soon find themselves in hot water when the dastardly Mr. Cougarpants stalks their campsite. Can Wordy Birdy talk them all out of this pickle? Grab your pack, grill up a s’more, and find out!
A LITTLE CHICKEN by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dan Taylor
Such an adorable story!
Sauer’s humor is on point as she gives us a great tale about facing fears (And who isn’t afraid of butterflies and questionable lawn ornaments, anyway?) and it being okay to be afraid sometimes.
Illustrations by Dan Taylor are so cute you’ll want to pinch their fluffy little cheeks!
Dot is scared of lots of things: wolves, bears, the occasional lawn ornament. But when one of her mother’s eggs rolls out of the nest, this nervous chick must find the courage to save the day—and her new sibling! So she bravely ventures down the steep hill, into the deep pond, and into the dark woods. This story proves that sometimes a big hero…is just a little chicken.
Book summaries from author’s website.
Learn more about Tammi Sauer here.
SPARKY & SPIKE: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever by Barbara Lowell, illustrated by Dan Andreasen
Yet another one of my amazing critique partners with an equally amazing book! It’s so exciting when you’ve seen a story evolve from the very beginning, through so many drafts and revisions, and finally polished into a real book.
This is a fantastic story about the creator of Peanuts and the dog that inspired Snoopy. Absolutely loved the comic style layout and the illustrations by Dan Andreasen- just perfect for this tale.
This charming book is a story about a boy nicknamed Sparky and his beloved dog, Spike. Spike is the most amazing dog ever. He inspires Sparky to draw. Someday, Sparky will be an artist. Based on the childhood of Charles Schulz, creator of the world-renowned Peanuts comic, and the dog who inspired the most beloved dog of all—Snoopy—this book will resonate with children everywhere. Sparky & Spike includes a biographical note, as well as archival photographs of Sparky and Spike and a letter Charles Schulz wrote to the book’s illustrator, Dan Andreasen, when Andreasen was a boy. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Barbara Lowell here.
PEEPING BEAUTY by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Zoe Waring
This is the second book published for my darling critique partner, Brenda. I absolutely adore this story. You can’t really tell from the picture here, but it is SPARKLY!
Such a cute story about how some growing things just take a little extra time. Adorable illustrations by Zoe Waring!
Mama, Papa, and their little family can’t wait for their newest chicks to arrive. But one little chick just doesn’t want to break out of its shell in this sweet spin on the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty.
Peep peep! Mama and Papa can’t wait for their new little chicks to arrive.
With a quiver,
and a peep!
Two of the chicks hatch!
But the third egg? It’s in no hurry to get cracking.
With the help of his siblings and his mama’s love, will this little chick find its way out into his big, new world? (Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Brenda Maier here.
WE ARE GRATEFUL: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac
This book was written by a lovely fellow SCBWI Oklahoma author. It’s a beautiful story sharing a journey through the seasons with a Cherokee family. Loved the rhythm of the language and the illustrations by Frané Lessac gave an added layer of warmth to the story.
A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences.
Appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Traci Sorell here.
FINALE (Caravel #3) by Stephanie Garber
I have never been so excited to FINALLY get my hands on a final book in a series, nor unfortunately so disappointed after reading it. I absolutely LOVED the first two books, but the threads just did not come together for me in this final book in a satisfying way.
In the end, it was just an okay read. I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time at all, (and not say, like the final season of Game of Thrones bad) I just felt a little wistful that it didn’t live up to its potential.
A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.
It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.
With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.
Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.
Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…
(Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Stephanie Garber here.
THE DRESEN FILES series by Jim Butcher
STORM FRONT (1), FOOL MOON (2), GRAVE PERIL (3), SUMMER KNIGHT (4), DEATH MASKS (5), BLOOD RITES (6), DEAD BEAT (7), PROVEN GUILTY (8), WHITE NIGHT (9), SMALL FAVOR (10), TURN COAT (11), CHANGES (12), GHOST STORY (13), COLD DAYS (14), SKIN GAME (15)
After reading the latest collection of short stories about the Dresden Files, BRIEF CASES, which has stories taking place in between many of the different books, I had an to reread the entire series, especially since the author had announced on social media that he was closing in on the ending of the latest book – finally! Yay!
It also didn’t hurt that there was a bonus story about two very interesting characters that we haven’t heard much from previously. It set up some interesting possibilities going forward! Rereading an huge series like this may seem like a daunting task, but I flew through the books, just like I did the first time. And in the rereads, discovered so much that I had forgotten. Well worth it! Now, I’m very ready for the next book!
If you’ve never read this series, it’s a fantastic urban fantasy series about the only wizard listed in the phone book in Chicago. Part hard-boiled crime novel, part fantasy, with a generous dash of snarky comedy that makes me laugh out loud. So, basically, the perfect series for me when I want a fast, fun read with mystery and epic battles in the mix.
Plot summary for STORM FRONT:
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.
There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.
Magic. It can get a guy killed.
Plot summary for FOOL MOON:
Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work — magical or mundane.
But just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.
A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses — and the first two don’t count…
Plot summary for GRAVE PERIL:
Harry Dresden’s faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. It comes with the territory when you’re the only professional wizard in the Chicago area phone book.
But in all Harry’s years of supernatural sleuthing, he’s never faced anything like this: the spirit world’s gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble — and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone — or something— is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc.
But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn’t figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself…
Plot summary for SUMMER KNIGHT:
Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.
The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.
And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him — and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.
It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case.
No pressure or anything…
Plot summary for DEATH MASKS:
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he’s getting more than he bargained for.
A duel with the Red Court of Vampires’ champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards…
Professional hit men using Harry for target practice…
The missing Shroud of Turin…
A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified…
Not to mention the return of Harry’s ex-girlfriend Susan, who’s still struggling with her semivampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.
Some days, it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you’re charging.
Plot summary for BLOOD RITES:
For Harry Dresden, there have been worse assignments than going undercover on the set of an adult film. Still, there’s something more troubling than usual about his newest case. The film’s producer believes he’s the target of a sinister curse-but it’s the women around him who are dying.
Harry’s even more frustrated because he only got involved with this bizarre mystery as a favor to Thomas-his flirtatious, self-absorbed vampire acquaintance of dubious integrity. Thomas has a personal stake in the case Harry can’t quite figure out. But Harry is about to discover that Thomas’ family tree has been hiding a shocking revelation that will change his life forever…
Plot summary for DEAD BEAT:
Paranormal investigations are Harry Dresden’s business and Chicago is his beat, as he tries to bring law and order to a world of wizards and monsters that exists alongside everyday life. And though most inhabitants of the Windy City don’t believe in magic, the Special Investigations Department of the Chicago PD knows better.
Karrin Murphy is the head of S. I. and Harry’s good friend. So when a killer vampire threatens to destroy Murphy’s reputation unless Harry does her bidding, he has no choice. The vampire wants the Word of Kemmler (whatever that is) and all the power that comes with it. Now, Harry is in a race against time—and six merciless necromancers—to find the Word before Chicago experiences a Halloween night to wake the dead…
Plot summary for PROVEN GUILTY:
There’s no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and undisciplined. But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.
As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago, but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob….
Plot summary for WHITE NIGHT:
Someone is targeting the city’s magic practitioners, the members of the supernatural underclass who don’t possess enough power to become full-fledged wizards. Many have vanished. Others appear to be victims of suicide. But the murderer has left a calling card at one of the crime scenes–a message for Harry Dresden, referencing the book of Exodus and the killing of witches.
Harry sets out to find the killer before he can strike again, but his investigation turns up evidence pointing to the one suspect he cannot possibly believe guilty: his half brother, Thomas. Determined to bring the real murderer to justice and clear his brother’s name, Harry attracts the attention of the White Court of vampires, becoming embroiled in a power struggle that renders him outnumbered, outclassed, and dangerously susceptible to temptation.
Harry knows that if he screws this one up, a lot of people will die–and one of them will be his brother.
Plot summary for SMALL FAVOR:
No one’s tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.
An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she’s calling in her marker. It’s a small favor he can’t refuse…one that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills-and loyalties-to their very limits.
It figures. Everything was going too well to last…
Plot summary for TURN COAT:
The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council–and there’s only one, final punishment for that crime. He’s on the run, wants his name cleared, and needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Someone like Harry Dresden.
Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head–someone like Harry.
Plot summary for CHANGES:
Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.
Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry’s not fighting to save the world…
He’s fighting to save his child.
Plot summary for GHOST STORY:
When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn’t doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.
But being dead doesn’t stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has no body, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.
To save his friends — and his own soul — Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic…
Plot summary for COLD DAYS:
HARRY DRESDEN LIVES!!!
After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.
He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.
Guess which Mab wants first?
Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.
Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…
Plot summary for SKIN GAME:
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….
Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.
He doesn’t know the half of it….
Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.
It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.
Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….
(Plot summaries from author’s website.)
Learn more about Jim Butcher here.
BRIEF CASES by Jim Butcher
A friend let me borrow the latest collection of short stories by Jim Butcher while we all wait in agony for the next book in the series. (It hasn’t been George R.R. Martin long, but it’s getting there!)
Brief Cases is the sequel anthology of Side Jobs, and was released before the highly anticipated Peace Talks , the 16th novel in the Dresden Files series, which is in the editing process as of this posting – not published yet, but maybe early next year? We can only hope!
The collection includes the following short stories:
“Curses” — from The Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow. Republished in Magic City: Recent Spells, edited by Paula Guran. Takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat.
“AAAA Wizardry” — from the Dresden Files RPG, published by Evil Hat
Harry teaches a group of young Wardens his procedure for dealing with supernatural nasties. Takes place between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty.
“Even Hand” — originally from Dark and Stormy Knights, edited by Pat Elrod. Reprinted in Beyond the Pale, edited by Henry Herz, and Urban Enemies, edited by Joseph Nassise. Gentleman Johnnie Marcone clashes with a rival supernatural power. Told from Marcone’s point of view. Takes place between Turn Coat and Changes.
“B is for Bigfoot” — from Under My Hat: Tales From the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in Working for Bigfoot. Takes place between Fool Moon and Grave Peril.
“I Was A Teenage Bigfoot” — from Blood Lite 3: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in Working for Bigfoot. Takes place circa Dead Beat.
“Bigfoot on Campus” — from Hex Appeal, edited by P.N. Elrod. Republished in Working for Bigfoot. Takes place between Turn Coat and Changes.
“Bombshells” — Molly-POV novella from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Duzois. Molly teams up with Justine and Andi to thwart a Fomor plot. Takes place between Ghost Story and Cold Days.
“Jury Duty” — short story for Unbound, edited by Shawn Speakman.
Harry endures Jury Duty. Set after Skin Game.
“Cold Case” — short story from Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes. In Molly’s first job in her new role, she teams up with Ramirez to take on a Lovecraft-esque cult. Takes place shortly after Cold Days.
“Day One” — short story for Unfettered II, edited by Shawn Speakman.
Butters’ first mission. Set after Skin Game.
“A Fistful of Warlocks” — short story for Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop. Luccio takes on necromancers in the Wild West.
Set long before the events of the series.
Exclusive bonus novella for Brief Cases.
A Rashomon-style story that chronicles a family trip to the zoo from Harry, Maggie, and Mouse’s points of view. Set after Skin Game.
(Short story summaries from author’s website.)
Learn more about Jim Butcher here.
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern
I had so many writer friends ooh and ahh about this book when it first came out and somehow I still never managed to read it. Then it popped up on sale the other day – kismet! I snagged a copy and never looked back.
Fabulous read! I love a dark and twisty story! Throw in some magic and it’s all the better! Loved this book!
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Erin Morgenstern here.
EDEN CONQUERED (Dividing Eden #2) by Joelle Charbonneau
I had the pleasure of meeting Joelle at my favorite indie, Best of Books, during an Epic Reads tour she was on where she was promoting the first book in this fascinating duology. She was wonderful and I absolutely loved the plot line to her story. (And the fabulous cover!) So dramatic!
Fast-forward a few years later when I unpacking moving boxes and I come across her first book. I reread the flap jacket and I realize two things: somehow I missed the release of the second book, and I MUST know how this story ends!
I’m so glad I ordered it and found out! It was a great read (just like the first book) and had a very satisfying ending.
The Trials of Virtuous Succession have ended. Prince Andreus is king—and Princess Carys is dead.
But even as he’s haunted by what he did to win the throne, Andreus discovers that his dream of ruling only brings new problems. The people love his twin even more in death than they did when she was alive. The Elders treat him as a figurehead. And worst of all, the winds of Eden are faltering.
But despite what everyone believes, Carys is alive. Exiled to the wilderness, Carys struggles to control the powers that have broken free inside her. And as she grows stronger, so does her conviction that she must return to the Palace of Winds, face her twin and root out the treachery that began long before the first Trials started.
The Kingdom of Eden is growing darker with each passing day. Brother and sister, former foes, must decide whether some betrayals cut too deep to be forgiven—and whether one will wear the crown or both will lose everything. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Joelle Charbonneau here.
GOOD OMENS: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I had a friend recommend this to me about three times – yes, same friend! – before my brain said, hmm, I think I should read this. And then they announced the series on Amazon coming out, so I finally read it right before viewing the show.
But what else do you expect from this power house couple of outstanding writers? I really enjoyed the storytelling and the humor. how else should you discuss the apocalypse, honestly?
According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .
(Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Neil Gaiman here.
THE BELLES (The Belles #1) and EVERLASTING ROSE (The Belles #2) by Dhonielle Clayton
Loved the challenging thoughts on beauty and how far one will go to achieve it.
Camellia is a fantastic character. Loved reading her story.
Plot summary for THE BELLES:
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the Favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the Favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the Queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
Plot Summary for THE EVERLASTING ROSE:
With a price on her head, the evil Queen Sophia out for blood, and no idea who to trust, Camellia Beaureguard, the former favorite Belle, must race against time to find the ailing Princess Charlotte, who has disappeared without a trace. Sophia’s imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep Camille, her sister Edel, and her loyal guard, Rémy, from returning Charlotte to the palace and her rightful place as queen.
With the help of an underground resistance movement called the Iron Ladies–a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely–and the backing of alternative newspaper the Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections, and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and halt her attempt to restore peace to Orléans. But enemies lurk in the most unexpected places, forcing Camille to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice to save her people.
(Plot summaries from author’s website.)
Learn more about Dhonielle Clayton here.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (Harry Potter #1), HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (Harry Potter #2) and HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (Harry Potter #3) Illustrated versions by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay
When someone who loves you, really gets you, they give you a beautiful set of some of your favorite books for Christmas! My daughter gave me the first three Harry Potter books that have been beautifully illustrated in a set. They are so gorgeous and add so much to the reading. I love it!
What a pleasure to revisit this series! And with the added bonus of these beautiful illustrations, it made the re-reading feel like an indulgent treat.
Plot summary for SORCERER’S STONE:
For the first time, J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter books will be presented in lavishly illustrated full-color editions. Kate Greenaway-award-winning artist Jim Kay has created over 100 stunning illustrations, making this deluxe format a perfect gift as much for a child being introduced to the series, as for the dedicated fan.
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.
All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley — a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry — and anyone who reads about him — will find unforgettable. (Plot summary from Goodreads.)
Plot summary from CHAMBER OF SECRETS:
Award-winning artist Jim Kay illustrates year two of Harry Potter’s adventures at Hogwarts, in a stunning, gift-ready format.
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.
But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone — or something — starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself? (Plot summary from Barnes & Noble)
Plot summary for PRISONER OF AZKABAN:
The third book in the bestselling Harry Potter series, now illustrated in glorious full color by award-winning artist Jim Kay!
For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts . . . he’s at Hogwarts.”
Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst. (Plot summary from Barnes & Noble)
Learn more about J.K. Rowling here.
Learn more about Jim Kay here.
WAR STORM (Red Queen #4) by Victoria Aveyard
The final book in this fascinating series finally came out. I did have to refresh my memory by rereading the third book before I started this one (after I read a few pages and realized that I couldn’t remember anything that had happened.) Nice conclusion.
Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.
War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?
In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive. (Plot summary from author’s website.)
Learn more about Victoria Aveyard here.
THRONE OF GLASS (Throne of Glass #1), CROWN OF MIDNIGHT (Throne of Glass #2), HEIR OF FIRE (Throne of Glass #3), QUEEN OF SHADOWS (Throne of Glass #4), EMPIRE OF STORMS (Throne of Glass #5), TOWER OF DAWN (Throne of Glass #6), KINGDOM OF ASH (Throne of Glass #7), and THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE (Throne of Glass short story collection) by Sarah J. Maas
After reading her Court of Thorns and Roses series…twice, I moved on to Sarah J. Maas’s other series to try to sate my appetite (and to keep from re-reading the Court of Thorn and Roses series a third time. At least for awhile.)
I enjoyed this series as well – ALMOST as much as the other – not quite as obsessively. Celaena is a wonderful character. I love a good assassin, especially a female one. And she’s not the only great character.
Although I only read this entire series twice before giving in and re-reading the other series a third time. There are SEVEN books in this series, eight if you count the short story collection. I’ve probably spent the same amount of time reading both of them.
Plot summary for THRONE OF GLASS:
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?
Plot summary for CROWN OF MIDNIGHT:
An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.
Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.
Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
Plot summary for HEIR OF FIRE:
Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?
The bestselling series that has captured readers all over the world reaches new heights in this sequel to the New York Times best-selling Crown of Midnight. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book will enthrall readers from start to finish.
Plot summary for QUEEN OF SHADOWS:
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.
Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
Plot summary for EMPIRE OF STORMS:
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.
With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Timesbestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.
Plot summary for TOWER OF DAWN:
Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.
In this sweeping parallel novel to the New York Times bestselling Empire of Storms, Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene will have to draw on every scrap of their resilience if they wish to save their friends. But while they become entangled in the political webs of the khaganate, deep in the shadows of mighty mountains where warriors soar on legendary ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival—or doom them all . . .
Plot Summary for KINGDOM OF ASH:
The final battle is here.
Aelin Galathynius has vowed to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together at last, all must fight if Erilea is to have any hope of salvation.
Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an explosive conclusion as Aelin fights to save herself―and the promise of a better world.
Plot summary for THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE:
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.
(Plot summaries from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Sarah J. Maas here.
A COURT OF THORN AND ROSES (A Court of Thorn and Roses #1), A COURT OF MIST AND FURY (A Court of Thorn and Roses #2), and A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN (A Court of Thorn and Roses #3) A COURT OF FROST AND STARLIGHT (A Court of Thorn and Roses #4) by Sarah J. Maas
I am totally obsessed with this series and can’t seem to stop re-reading it! (Only three times this year – help!) Even after three reads, I get swept up in the story and absolutely love the characters.
Doesn’t hurt that Maas gives us a fabulously female-positive world to play around in, and outstanding characters like Feyre and Rhysand to care about. Things like sex and menstruation are approached as if women and their choices MATTER. Exactly the kind of world – fantasy or not – that I’d want my own daughter to experience.
Plot summary for A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES:
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
Plot summary for A COURT OF MIST AND FURY:
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
Plot summary for A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN:
Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.
Plot summary for A COURT OF FROST AND STARLIGHT:
Hope warms the coldest night.
Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.
Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.
(Plot summaries from Goodreads.)
Learn more about Sarah J. Maas here.