Most Anticipated March Reads

Morning, book lovers!

Honestly, I don’t believe this winter will end any time soon. So I need some positive vibes to keep me from the gloom and doom of the next few weeks. Do you feel the same?

Anyways, I want to try something new on my blog. I’ve seen a lot of similar posts. But I’ve never dabbled with this one though. So here is my first official “most anticipated reads” post.

Now, I’ve included only the upcoming titles that have either snagged a spot on my TBR list or captivated my attention. This list isn’t complete, and I don’t want to bore you with an entire one. What’s the point? So hopefully, you find some new additions to your TBR list. I sure have!

I hope you all enjoy.

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Review | Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

Published by: Penguin Group

Publication Date: February 19, 2005

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy

Page Count: 393

Rating: 4/5

Source: Gift

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In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.


“You don’t know this yet. But you are Mine.”

My best friend Beth has raved about the Black Dagger Brotherhood for longer than I can remember. She has never steered me wrong, and I love her for that. Sometimes, though, vampire novels are iffy for me. But I should have listened to her. This book is a sexy, steamy, and intense read. And I am an instant fan.

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Review | Evermore by Sara Holland

Evermore by Sara Holland

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: December 31, 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 368

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchase

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Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: She is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Now Jules must piece together the stories of her past lives to save the person who has captured her heart in this one.


“Don’t you know, Jules? Everything worth doing is dangerous.”

After reading Sara’s debut novel, I knew Evermore would be at the top of my most anticipated TBR list. There was no way I’d let this sequel pass me by, especially with that whiplash plot twist Sara threw at her readers. So even though I love the journey she takes us on, I feel a bit let down.

Sara is a natural born storyteller. She weaves tales, from past to present, to plot out intriguing worlds. So it pains me to say that I’m disappointed with how the finale turns out. I hate writing this sort of review because I know how difficult creating a novel truly is. Sometimes, though, a sequel simply falls into the second book syndrome and doesn’t carve its own path to originality.

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Review | Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

Published by: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: November 6, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction, Superheroes, Fantasy

Page Count: 471

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

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As Insomnia, she is a full-fledged member of the Renegades, a syndicate of powerful and beloved superheroes. She works with Adrian’s patrol unit to protect the weak and maintain order in Gatlon City.

As Nightmare, she is an Anarchist—a group of villains who are determined to destroy the Renegades. Nova wants vengeance against the so-called heroes who once failed her when she needed them most. But as Nova, her feelings for Adrian are deepening, despite the fact that he is the son of her sworn enemies and, unbeknownst to Nova, he has some dangerous secrets of his own.

In this second installment of the Renegades trilogy, Nova, Adrian, and the rest of their crew—Ruby, Oscar, and Danna—are faced with escalating crime in Gatlon City, while covert weapons and conflicting missions have Nova and Adrian questioning not only their beliefs about justice, but also the feelings they have for each other.

The line between good and evil has been blurred, but what’s clear to them both is that too much power could mean the end of their city—and the world—as they know it.


“Once we have total power, what’s to keep us from becoming villains ourselves?”

Have you ever anticipated reading a book but were afraid of doing just that? I didn’t know how to prepare for when I read the sequel to Renegades. How could I since I didn’t want it to disappoint me? So even though I went in with no expectations, Archenemies is the story I was hoping for and more.

Moral dilemmas, internal battles, and questionable beliefs play pivotal parts in the sequel. And characters are often challenged and tested by them. Although the storyline is slow in some places, I feel that character development and growth will keep readers demanding more from the Gatlon City foes and heroes.

I eagerly dived into this superb universe. I never thought I’d like reading about superheroes, but Marissa makes you love them all the more though. Archenemies quickly takes off from the explosive ending in Renegades. Gatlon City is seeing an increased crime wave while Nova battles with her duty and responsibility as a Renegade and as an Anarchist. Drugs and weapons flood the streets, but the Renegades, the idolized heroes of the city, uncover a new weapon that may stop crime for good, Weapon N.

I love finding storylines that make readers question what they’d might do. And Archenemies excels at that inner conflict. While the first novel gives you some development, the growth with the two protagonists will intrigue Marissa’s following. And I’m happy to say that I enjoyed seeing how Adrian (Sketch and the Sentinel) and Nova (Nightmare and Insomnia) play into their roles. Each character sees how their worlds clash against each other, but now they aren’t naïve by just trusting in their own views.

While this growth takes the spotlight, some of the action and other characters are pushed into the background, which I hope wouldn’t happen. Marissa’s main characters are compelling, but I wanted more substance with the secondary ones. I love how Nova transitions from one life to the next. She is my favourite out the roster. And the inner conflict she faces gives you an inside view of how difficult her need to avenge her family and her duty as a friend will quarrel with each other.

This sequel is more character driven than anything else. And I can’t help but commend Marissa for pulling off this feat. The characters will always stand above the action scenes, I say. I want to see how this world unfolds, how Adrian and Nova’s budding relationship will turn out, and if Gatlon City will survive when the Renegades and the Anarchists finally confront each other again. I wasn’t expecting to love Archenemies, but now I can’t wait for the final novel!

Review | Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: July 31, 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 320

Rating: 4/5

Source: Indigo Teen

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Serina Tessaro has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace—someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. It’s her chance to secure a better life for her family, and to keep her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, out of trouble. But when Nomi catches the Heir’s eye instead, Serina is the one who takes the fall for the dangerous secret her sister has been hiding.
Trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one option: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to save Serina. But this is easier said than done…A traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner.
Meanwhile Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart.

I received a free copy from Indigo Teen. My review reflects my honest and unbiased opinion.

 

“Women think they’re strong when they’re fighting other women, but when a man fights them, they know the truth.”

With some stories, you know how they unfold. And that anticipation may kill your love of the novel itself. But others, even if you predict what will happen, arrive in your life at just the right time. While I picked up Grace and Fury, I had no expectations. But what I never envisioned was how I needed to read this book.

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Review | Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Published by: Harlequin Teen

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Genre: High Fantasy

Page Count: 409

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchase

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One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.


“It is very hard to be human, little fox. Even the humans themselves don’t do a great job of it.”

I’ve been eagerly waiting to get back into another high fantasy. So when I saw several bloggers talk about Shadow of the Fox and also read the blurb for it, I bought myself a copy. Even though I loved the Japanese mythology, I couldn’t fall in love with it.

Every thousand years, an ancient scroll awakens a dragon who grants a wish of either great power or great destruction. Yumeko, a half-kitsune girl, is tasked with protecting a piece of that scroll when a demon slaughters her adoptive family. But many foes look to claim it, like Kage Tatsumi. But they make a pact built on hidden truths and lies, which may tear them apart.

How can I complain about that description? Julie delivers all the elements I’m looking for in a YA fantasy: a touch of romance, mythology, Japanese culture, dragons, and a great backstory. I’m not sure if the journey the characters take dulls the story or if I simply couldn’t connect with the storyline itself. What I was expecting was a well-executed Japanese-inspired fantasy, but what I got is anything but that. However, I love how Julie engrosses you in magical folklore. But I think that was one of the few things that kept me reading.

I wanted something more than formulaic writing. Too many tropes and over-used elements suck the life out of this book. By the end, I struggled with finishing it. One character who prevented me from DNFing it is Tatsumi. The demon slayer of the Shadow Clan must wipe his mind of all emotions, or the demon who possesses the sword of Kamigoroshi will take control of his body. He battles his own mind when he pairs himself with Yumeko. His growth is complex and compelling. I wanted to see more of his past and watch how he fights internally.

Unfortunately, the other main character, Yumeko, couldn’t keep my attention. I don’t mind when a character is naive. But even though the monks isolated her from the world because she’s half-kitsune, her character development is barely non-existent. She falls for the same tricks. In the first one hundred pages, I loved her. But she falls flat by the end.

Julie relies too heavily on the mythology, and she doesn’t see the flaws in her writing. If she focused more on her characters, then perhaps I would have enjoyed the book more. However, she has created a unique platform to build off a solid series though. If she fixes these issues, then her sequels may fare better.

Review | Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 565

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase

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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.


“She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”

After reading this sequel, I am utterly broken. And words fail me. I had my heart ripped out of my gapping chest. I cried. I laughed. I was giddy, angry, and happy. But I somewhat feel okay with that? But I am proud to have Heir of Fire sit on my shelf. The third installment of the Throne of Glass is Sarah’s strongest. The writing brings you right into this multi-dimensional world. You feel the tears, the rage, and the redemption. Aelin Galathynius began her story as Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin. Now she embraces who she is.

Sarah slowly weaves a thread from one character arc to another, and I am impressed with how she creates this world. From the beginning, I knew who Celaena is, but I couldn’t fathom how she transforms into the broken Queen of Terrasen. Now, I do. Sarah explores more from this intricate word and the magic system within it. But what I adore is the characters.

You know how I fall hard for character-driven books. And Sarah delivers that promise and more. As her power strengthen, so too does Aelin’s growth. Her pain drives her reluctance to harness her gift though. Aelin must train with Rowan Whitethorn, a member of Maeve’s blood-sworn Cadre. If she completes her mission, her aunt Maeve will then offer her more knowledge of the wyrdkeys. I much prefer Aelin over Celaena. This future queen struggles with her identity and her duty. Throughout the book, I feel that her development holds the most reward for readers.

Rowan made me swoon the moment he flew into Aelin’s life. I knew he’s trouble, but I instantly loved this otherworldly, alpha Fae. I love a brooding man with a damaged history. You see hints of a connection between the two. And I can’t get hold how they eventually open up to each other, help heal their wounds, and look to a brighter path. He challenges her and doesn’t allow Aelin to slip back into the shadows.

I’ve been dying to see it more of Sarah’s worldbuilding. As Aelin confronts her pain, Adarlan is preparing for war. There, you meet Manon Blackbeak, an Ironteeth Witch. Do you know how refreshing a bloodthirsty female character is?! The author brings a new dynamic by introducing the three witch clans. To my heart’s content, she finally introduces Aedion Asryver, Aelin’s cousin. His riddled backstory, hidden motives and alliances, and his convictions of avenging his country play with the political undertones, which are brought to the forefront.

Each character enhances the storytelling, which Sarah excels at. She’s not afraid to take chances with her characters and storylines. Her risks are what makes her series so enjoyable to read. She takes the most dangerous chance of all: exploring beyond the world she’s so carefully created. Heir of Fire creates the foundation for the next stellar addition of the Throne of Glass. There’s no doubt why readers love this series.

Review | Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: August 15, 2013

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 418

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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Celaena Sardothien is the king’s Champion-yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia.

Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena’s world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie…and whom she will fight for.


“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”

With badassery, betrayals, and deadly secrets, Crown of Midnight cements Sarah’s place in the fantasy world. Since I’ve had some time to control myself after reading this spectacular book, I can finally write my review. The foreshadowing master has done it again by writing a sequel that surpasses its predecessor. Am I surprised? No. Am I completely at her mercy? Yes. I’m here to stay, TOG fandom!

I lost count of how many times my emotions took a hold of me. And I somehow put myself together so I could move on to the next book. You know I’m dedicated when I can’t stopping reading a series. Sarah threads multi-layered arcs and brings them together to craft a well-executed story.

The Throne of Glass series is one of my favourites. And I truly don’t know how properly to explain my love for it. I had strong expectations with this sequel. I wanted everything her debut novel has to offer and more. And Sarah doesn’t fail. Having won the tournament, Celaena Sardothien is now the King’s Champion and must do his bidding, whether she wants to or not. As she uncovers secrets that should be left unburied, she faces a devastating loss.

Did I honestly believe I could love a character more? Clearly, I was wrong. I adore Celaena and her journey. You get to see more backstory with this cleverly thought-out character. And I can’t help but respect how multi-faceted she turns out to be. Death and heartache are not done leaving scars on her. And this book just shows how much she has suffered and continues to do so.

Like I’ve previously said, the secondary characters impress me. And I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia. I knew Chaol and Calaena explore a relationship, but I never knew it would tear strips into my already fragile heart. I shipped them hard. I loved his character arc, and the banter between the both of them made me so happy. Even though Dorian isn’t the love interest, he does play a strong role. And the tension between Nehemia and Calaena may be the hardest part of this book though.

Sarah slowly reveals this deadly and cutthroat world. You don’t want to live in Erilea. You don’t want to survive here. And yet she consistently proves how strong her characters are. Her storytelling improves as she uncovers the horrors of this continent. And I wonder how anyone ever lives in such a terrifying environment. Now, she intertwines fantasy into a magicless world. And I love that it builds suspense into her worldbuilding.

As I continue reading this series, I don’t know how I can love the next book more than the last. But I do. Sarah creates believable characters who I want to find freedom. And she unfolds a beautifully told story I’ll continue to admire.

Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Published by: Tor Books

Publication Date: February 23, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adult

Page Count: 512

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.


 

“Magic and magician must between them balance. Magic itself is chaos. The magician must be calm. The fractured self must be a pure vessel for power, spilling power without focus measure from every crack.”

I never thought I’d love this series this much when I first picked up A Darker Shade of Magic. But as I write this review, I know Shades of Magic will be one series I’ll cherish over others. The magic, the thrill, and the friendship will always bring me back. And I want more time to revel in Red London.

Victoria is an author to marvel at. She creates these complex and highly detailed magical worlds and systems. She unravels an intricate and layered story that makes you love storytelling all over again. And her characters stand on their own yet complement each other beautifully. I adore how each character has developed from the aftermath of the first book.

Kell must live with the actions of saving his brother, Rhy, and bringing a deadly magic to their world. Both the king and queen have lost their trust in Kell, and he feels that loss and resentment when they force more restrictions on him. Rhy and Kell’s bond though is what anchors the both of them, and I loved their interactions together. I also enjoyed how Kell’s entire perspective of his life changes. He struggles with his choices that bound his life with Rhy’s. And that internal battle builds depth to his character.

Lila, the stab-happy and would-be pirate, adapts well to Red London. She is one character who I loved reading in the ADSOM. And even though I want to rant about how her stubbornness gets in the way of growth, I can’t help but admire her badassery. Alucard Emery, the captain of Night Spire, just adds a little flare to everyone’s life. I thought I’d hate him, but he’s such an exciting addition.

The worldbuilding expands in this sequel. As the Essen Tacsh begins, magicians compete against each other. Over five days, thirty-six contenders must battle each other out until a competitor is crowned the winner. I absolutely loved seeing different magicians from other regions of Red London. You see how each country wields magic. But while people are enchanted by the Element Games, an old threat reappears.

What stands out the most is Victoria’s writing. She ensares your love of magic and shows you how beautiful yet dangerous it is. I was entranced the entire time, and I knew I need more from this world. Victoria doesn’t rely on romance to tell her story. She allows the magic to envelop her readers, and I’ll forever respect her series.

Review | Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh

Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh

Published by: G. P Putnam’s Son

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Historical

Page Count: 415

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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The highly anticipated sequel to Flame in the Mist—an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless from the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn.

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice—to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead.

With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and very the safety of the empire.


“Ours is a love stronger than fear and deeper than the sea”

I’ve been waiting to come back to this beautiful, rich, and detailed series. Renée combines fantasy, historical touches, and romance that will make her readers swoon. Smoke in the Sun doesn’t disappoint.

I’ve been putting off this review for awhile. Now, I’m still not sure if I can express the thoughts I feel about this book. When I started reading it, I was anticipating high action and deadly battles. And while we do see that more toward the end, Renée offers a story that creeps up on you, draws your attention, then attacks your every emotion. By the final book, I’m invested in these well fleshed out characters who I adore and who bring a different perspective to the novel.

Women who seem to play more of a background role are truly the hidden force and the backbone of the series. I’ve been craving a book where women will risk everything, even their own lives, to fight for a better world. And Renée beautifully illustrates that the power they have to offer.

The worldbuilding relies much more on court politics. And that is where Renée’s writing shines. Betrayals, deceptions, an unstable leader, and familial bonds intertwine to make a complex and layered storytelling. I wasn’t sure what to expect from one chapter to the next. And I loved living in the thrill of finding out. And I enjoyed how she spines her intricate tale. But her characters may just surpass her writing though. Each one adds to the depth of the story itself, and I can’t help but rave about them.

Mariko—who survived an assassination attempt, fell in love with the enemy, and outwitted even the Black Clan—is a well-developed main character. Along with persuading her betrothed and her brother, she must protect Okami and discover who wants her dead. I adore her development in Smoke. Sometimes, you need to read of a quiet yet forceful character who surprises you.

Okami, oh my heart, suffers so much. And yet his strength and determination are what make him an outstanding character. He doesn’t let the empire or the emperor break him. I thought I loved him in Flame, but I was wrong. I don’t always comment on secondary characters, yet I feel that they deserve at least a mention. Each one brings a new dynamic to the story.

I knew coming into this duology that I would want more sequels, more storylines, and frankly more everything. Yet Renée offers a satisfying conclusion to an already thrilling series. You need to read it.

“Our deepest truths are usually the hardest to conceal.”