Upcoming summer releases that I want to read, and you should too! Part one

Summer is the time for reading: iced tea, cold sandwiches, the warmth of the sun on my back…and a book in my hand. There’s so many books coming out in the summer that I thought I’d narrow it down* by sharing some of my most anticipated releases.

A note: some of the books mentioned here are ones that I’ve reviewed but sometimes my anticipation was greater than my enjoyment.

It’s the first week of June, which means that these could soon be in your (my) hands! Excitement!

ROAR: June 6th  I was lusting after an ARC of this one so bad, but I never was approved. *insert sad emoji here* So basically, the rulers of the land have the ability to harness storms. They reach into it and steal its essence in the form of a stone. BUT the protagonist doesn’t have this power, despite being from one of the ruling families. But she may be able to figure out a way to steal storm power. It sounds so dangerous, and so exciting! And the cover is beautiful.

TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY: June 6th Tash loves Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. She loves it so much that she created a (suddenly famous) web series that’s a modern day retelling. It sounds really cute and it’s right up my alley with the whole loving a book / books so much that you do something creative with said book. ALSO, she’s an asexual character which I hope is done really well because it’s the first I’ve seen in YA.

HERE LIES DANIEL TATE: June 6th This one sounds SO GOOD. When a boy who went missing six years ago suddenly reappears with no memories of that time, his overjoyed family reassure him that the memories will come back. Only one problem: HE ISN’T DANIEL TATE. He’s a CON ARTIST. DUNDUNDUUUUN. But seriously, this one sounds like a mystery and thriller all rolled up in one which I love reading.

THE SUFFERING TREE: June 13th  A mysterious inheritance, a town that doesn’t like outsiders, and a family with secrets–and a curse–they would do anything to keep hidden. I requested an ARC because I thought it sounded interesting, but it was a case of the summary saying one thing but the book being more about another. I’m including it because you can find my review here and decide for yourself. Some readers may enjoy it.

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[My Lady Jane] Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane is a retelling of England’s Nine-Day Queen. This novel is what happens when something historical is retold in a contemporary style while still remaining fairly true to history. It is a longer read that delves into the points of view of three characters based on Lady Jane Grey, Edward VI, and Guildford (stylized as Gifford) Dudley, giving the characters a happier ending than their reality. The three authors weave together humor, romance, and a bit of real history–along with a lot of changed history.

I usually love retellings, especially when there’s history involved that I’ve studied and enjoyed.  And if I look at it purely from a standpoint where I only address it as a historical retelling, My Lady Jane was successful one. I really enjoyed that the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants was twisted into a conflict between the E∂ians (people who have the ability to shape shift into an animal, often at moments of high emotion or stress) and the Verities (people who do not have that power and often view it as a perversion of nature.) Changing history to the point of smudging or completely changing the outcome–which is basically the point of alternative history–didn’t bother me, because I liked how the authors took real events and added a bit of fantasy to make it fit their new narrative.

The alternative history, the E∂ians…that is why I read and enjoyed My Lady Jane, even to the point where I was able to mostly overlook the things that I didn’t particularly like. Ultimately, while I did enjoy reading the book, I also feel like it doesn’t have memorability for me. I won’t really be thinking about it now that I’ve finished it. It didn’t blow my mind, though I understand why it’s popular. It’s a catchy, quick read with entertaining moments. The characters are likable and it’s easy to cheer them on. But I found that even though this was a fun read, there were things that I didn’t work for me and distracted from the fantasy setting.

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[Paper and Fire: The Great Library II] Rachel Caine


In the sequel to the world created in Ink and Bone, Rachel Caine has created more suspense and intrigue. Jess knows all too well what the Library will do to those who dare step out. Every move he makes is closely monitored, and it’s likely only a matter of time before the Library finds some way to make him disappear. Jess and his friends have to navigate this world as they discover more secrets that the Library has been keeping–secrets that are more deadly than any they’ve discovered before. Change will come from within.

I didn’t think that I could get more immersed in the world of the Library. Now that Jess has an official place in the Library in Paper and Fire, the benefits and shortcomings of it become more glaringly obvious. Yet, even as Jess becomes aware of how bad the Library can be, he still likes the idea of the Library. The ideal is wonderful, but over the years it became corrupted. Most people don’t see it, so I liked how Paper and Fire gave us more information about how this happened. It really focused on how things can be corrupted; something may be good, but those that are in control will warp it to their own advantage–even if it harms others. Paper and Fire really focused on the old aphorism “Knowledge is Power.” Of course, power is corruptible and Jess continues to learn just what that means.

As with Ink and BonePaper and Fire had the same addictive, couldn’t-put-down quality to the writing. The plot was steady and engaging. As a second book in a series, it was great. If anything, I was more interested in the events of the second novel than the first because we were pulled even deeper into the world of the Library. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without the events in the first novel. The benefit of this is that the world could be advanced instead of explained.

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[And I Darken] Kiersten White

27153280Part of a new series called The Conqueror’s SagaAnd I Darken is the tale of a princess who will not follow the standards of her time. Lada Dragwyla has fought her entire life to be seen by her father. She has to prove that she’s more valuable at his side than married off like other girls of noble families. When she and her brother Radu are abandoned by their father in the Ottoman Courts as a means to keep him in check, Lada vows to never weaken again. Weakness could get them killed in this place where their lineage is just another piece to move around. As they grow up in the Ottoman Courts, both Lada and Radu hone their respective skills, picking up friends and enemies along the way. To survive at all costs, they have to make decisions that could come back to haunt them later. But they know to never look back.

This is a novel that asks “What if Vlad the Impaler was a girl?”, an intriguing premise that made me request a copy.  And I Darken is set in Wallachia, now a part of Romania, and the Ottoman Empire. It’s a setting that isn’t often used for young adult novels, and it is done distinctively enough that I saw it very clearly while reading. The setting was a character in its own way. It played a part during different stages of Lada and Radu’s life, and I suspect that it will become increasingly important in the later novels. Lada is Wallachia; it’s in her blood, constantly calling to her. For Radu, the Ottoman Empire is more of a match.

For the most part,  And I Darken was a successful novel for me. It had a protagonist who was intentionally not lovable. Lada wasn’t a character who waited around for other people to tell her what to do. She rebelled when people tried to order her to do things. A lot of protagonists in young adult novels are promised to be strong characters but turn out to be weak. This is not the case for Lada. Some of the things she did made me dislike her. However, I had to admire her for doing them. Her reasoning for her actions are presented to the reader and they make complete sense. I knew and understood why she was doing them. Lada was not a character who is promised to be one thing and then becomes another. She was not one of the protagonists who pretend to be strong but inwardly worry about if the male character likes her or not. Lada was brutal and quite unlike most female protagonists I’ve read.

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[Ink and Bone: The Great Library I] Rachel Caine


Rachel Caine is one of those authors that I’ve always meant to read, but never have. Ink and Bone is the start of a new series of hers. It’s part fantasy and part alternate history. I’ve always found the story of the Library of Alexandria interesting and also tragic, so it was cool to read a book that focused on it. In Ink and Bone, the Library has survived and has become an intimidating source of power. There are offshoots in every major city, fighting to preserve knowledge. They have become their own separate government in a way, able to move in and out of cities at war in an effort to save manuscripts stored at libraries across the world. Cross the library and you may find yourself wiped from the map. Jess Brightwell is the son of a book smuggler–a crime punishable by death due to the forbiddenness of owning books. He enters the library’s service as a spy for his family but soon finds his loyalties tested as he makes friends while training. He finds that the library has its priorities a little less than straight and quickly discovers that challenging the library has irreversible consequences.

This was a pretty steady read, plot-wise. Things that were meant to be surprising later had a kind of shot-in-the-foot quality because of heavy foreshadowing through the means of letters and messages early in the novel. However, even with that happening in the novel I did enjoy Ink and Bone very much. Tendrils of the plot reached out for the next book in the planned trilogy without leaving too many questions unanswered. There was a nice balance between that and how the author drove readers toward the outcome of this novel. Although there are serious things that were alluded to in Ink and Bone, it didn’t go into too much detail. It could have potentially gone darker than it did and I’m still on the fence on whether I wished it had or not.  The plot was not on par with the setting, which was the strongest part of the book.

I didn’t really feel like I got into the heads of the characters too much, even Jess. I got his motivations and desires, I just couldn’t get too excited about anything he did. Because Ink and Bone is as much about Jess and his family as it is about the power of the Library, I wasn’t surprised when he was able to do things that others couldn’t. It’s standard fare in young adult novels nowadays because there are only so many ways that they can go. I did really enjoy that this young adult novel was told from the point of view of a male protagonist, however. There are a lot of young adult novels that have girl protagonists and too few with boy protagonists, so it was a nice change. Unfortunately, because the other characters were mostly there to be the smart one, the jerk, the love interest, the best friend, and the _______, I couldn’t really connect with them and their relationships to Jess. Their interactions just kind of happened and then the book moved on. They weren’t made important enough. They were interesting, just not interesting.

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