Friday, December 30, 2016

spotlight on: favorite books of 2016

Welcome to the last Spotlight On for 2016! This year has been completely insane in so many ways, but I have loved doing this series and will definitely continue it in the new year. I will wrap up the year with a spotlight on: favorite books of 2016, because that feels like coming full circle. I hope you guys have had at least a marginally good 2016, and let's all hope and pray to whatever we believe in that 2017 is better. As for reading, I feel like as the world got crazier, I retreated more into books, which made my year of reading amazing. I can't wait for 2017 releases to come out, because I think there are some truly amazing ones on the horizon. Let me know what you guys loved this year, as I am always looking to add to my TBR, and have a good New Year's Eve!

2016 New-to-Me Favorites (In Temporal Order)

1. I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

review here 

 If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

~~~
This was one of the very first books that I read and loved this year, and even almost 12 months later, I still think about it in my day to day life. I just felt like the setting and character development were so real, the book felt seamless. I loved the conflict and the romance, and the way they were both developed, and I am definitely planning on rereading it at some point this year. Totally one of my favorite contemporaries that I read this year, even though it came out in 2015. 
 
2. Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) – C.S. Pacat 

review here

(spoilers for books 1&2!) Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regent's final, deadly play for the throne?

~~~ 
 If you take away one thing from my favorite books of 2016.... let it be that the Captive Prince series is INCREDIBLE!! I wrote a long and feelsy review for this entire series, but I just want to reiterate here how crazy amazing these books are. I just think they're totally groundbreaking for m/m fantasy, and if you haven't read them, I would totally recommend trying them out if you're looking to expand your experience in fantasy. Be sure to read the list of trigger warnings that I linked in my review of these books, but if you're cool with being a little shocked, I would definitely recommend this. The third book especially was playing so much on my emotions... planning on rereading them all soon!! 
 
3. Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) – Alwyn Hamilton 

review here 

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
 

~~~
  Count this as the book that surprised me the most during 2016. I was totally not expecting to like it, but I ended up devouring it in one sitting and absolutely adored the world and the characters so much. It was described to me as a middle eastern fantasy mixed with a western, which sounded so out of order to me, but it really is the best description, and Alwyn Hamilton mixes the two aspects so well, you don't even notice how odd it is. I absolutely cannot wait for the second book to come out early next year, because I truly can't wait to see where Hamilton takes this story. 
 

 4. When We Collided – Emery Lord 

review here 

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.
 

~~~
Emery Lord is one of my all time favorite authors, and her new book was no different than her last two. I absolutely loved this story, even though and especially because it was so different from her other two books. I love how Emery Lord portrays all of her relationships, whether they be romantic, familial, or platonic. I always feel like her characters are people I know, good and passionate people who love each other no matter what. I also really appreciate the way this book portrays mental illness. It is uplifting and hopeful while also addressing harsh realities of life. 
 

5. The Loose Ends List – Carrie Firestone

review here

It’s a summer for first love, last wishes, and letting go.

Maddie has big plans to spend the last months before college tying up high school “loose ends” alongside her best friends. Then her beloved grandmother drops two bombshells: (1) Gram is dying. (2) She’s taking her entire family on a round-the-world cruise of dreams come true—but at the end, Gram won’t be returning home.

With a promise to live in the now without regrets, Maddie boards the Wishwell determined to make every moment count. She finds new friends in her fellow Wishwellians, takes advantage of the trip’s many luxuries, gets even closer to her quirky family, and falls for painfully gorgeous Enzo. But despite the copious laughter, headiness of first love, and wonder of the glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram, and she struggles to find the strength to let go in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, grief, and laughter.
   

~~~
I was sent this ARC having no idea what this book was going to be about, and then I read it and was totally and completely blown away by the humanity of the story, the complexity of the relationships, and the raw emotions that make this story amazing. This book contains three of my favorite things: traveling around the world, crazy but loving family dynamics, and some killer character development, all combined in a book that is as heartwarming as it is hilarious. I can't stress enough how much this book mixed the wonderful with the heartbreaking, and how much I enjoyed myself while reading it. 
  
6. And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga #1) – Kiersten White 

review here

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

~~~ 
Definitely one of the most different books that I've read in awhile. I'm pretty picky about my historical fiction, but everything about a gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler was appealing to me. This book was dark and twisty, with amazingly complicated characters, political maneuverings, and relationships. I love the world of this novel, which we are simultaneously thrown into and guided through. Lada is a kickass anti-princess, anti-heroine who deserves to be celebrated for what she is, and Radu is a precious flower that conceals thorns. Love my murder kids! Can't wait to see what they get up to next!

7. The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson

review here

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?
 

~~~
Morgan Matson is one of the best contemporary writers out there, IMO. Every single book she writes feels like coming home, they just exist in this comfortable place where I can read for hours and hours and feel like no time at all has passed. Andie and her friends are #squadgoals, I love the use of emojis in this book, the humor is on point, and Clark is the absolute cutest boy in the universe! This book also has a multitude of dogs and a great father daughter relationship, which aren't things I absolutely require in a book but are certainly things that I love to see :)

8. Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans Welch 

review here

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

~~~
I picked up this book because I wanted something cute and fluffy during the summer, and I absolutely love Italy, so this seemed like something that I would enjoy. I ended up absolutely loving it way more than I expected to, and it was so much more to me than just a light and fluffy summer read. The characters were amazing!! I loved them so much, especially Howard, I just wanted to squish them. I loved the romance that developed, it was a slow burn that I really enjoyed, and the family mystery was what compelled me to keep on reading until the end. Wonderful book if you love travel for sure, and also there's some great relationships here! 
 
9. My Lady Jane –  Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows 

review here

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.
 

~~~
Not your typical historical fiction! Emphasis on the fiction. This was the #1 most hilarious book that I read all year. It had me giggling from page one. It reminded me of Monty Python and of the Princess Bride, in that it takes history and makes it funny, less serious, and doesn't let itself be held down by the actual history that it is trying to depict. This book tells the story of Lady Jane Grey, known for being the shortest reigning monarch in history and her untimely death. Or is she? I loved the magic and hilarity of the story, and the characters were wonderful as well.

10. This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) – Victoria Schwab 

review here

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

~~~
Victoria, or V.E., Schwab is one of my favorite authors in both adult and YA fantasy. Everything that she writes is so different, both from the standards of the genre and from everything else she's ever written, and This Savage Song is no different. I loved how dark and gritty it was, and how that aspect was tempered by these moments of brilliant lightness. This book revolves around a world where violent acts literally spawn monsters, and our main characters are a monster boy who is anything but, and a human girl who would give anything to be monstrous. I flew through this one and for those of you who like fantasical dystopian world, I think you will too! 

11. A Torch Against The Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) – Sabaa Tahir

review here

 Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

~~~
It's no secret that I adored An Ember in The Ashes, the first installment in this series, and so I was a little bit nervous to read this second one. Whenever a first book is just *that* good, there is a lot to live up to. I shouldn't have worried, though, because Sabaa Tahir delivered within the first few pages and then just kept on firing on all cylinders throughout the book. So many twists and turns and a new POV character benefit this novel, and I cannot wait to see what else Tahir does with this world.

12. Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) – Jay Kristoff

review here

The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

~~~
Are you looking for a little bit of darkness, gore, and action thrown into a really cool world, a kickass main character, and a rough and tumble plot? Then Nevernight is for you. I loved this book, the Romanesque fantasy world, the city built on the bones of a fallen god, a coven of assassins that worship the goddess of the night, and a world where there are three suns that hardly ever set? HELLO. All of the aspects are there and they are all used so wonderfully well. I loved the narration style and the footers, Mia is a great and quick-to-action protag, and the plot twist at the end really SHOOK me. I'd never read Jay Kristoff before, but he definitely burst into my reading life and I will be checking out his other works.
 
13. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh Bardugo

review here

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world. 
~~~
If I had to write a summary for this book it would just be this: *CONSTANT YELLING FOR FIVE MINUTES.* That is how incoherent I was after finishing this one. Together with the first book in this series, Six of Crows, it makes up one of the best duologies in existence, IMO. The characters just pop off the page, and their relationships give me so much of the life. Also, if you're a fan of heists, ragtag teams getting shit done, and narrowly escaping death in impossible circumstances, these books are for you!! dont even try to fight me on the perfection of this book, because you will lose.   

14. The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis

review here

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

~~~
This is one of the most unconventional contemporaries that I've ever read, and I appreciate Mindy McGinnis and everyone who stands behind her for getting this one published. I think this is such an important book, and especially for it to be published in 2016, I just want to cry because I am so grateful for this book. It is dark, chilling, and at times difficult to read, but I think that is what makes it so important. It is rare that I run across a work of fiction that deals so directly with rape culture and the struggle of women in a world dominated by men and their opinions. I swear everyone needs to read this book. 
  
15. The Sun is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon 

review here

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

~~~
Another book that has important applications, especially in the year that we are just coming out of, I think The Sun Is Also A Star is Nicola Yoon at her best. I loved Everything, Everything, but this book is even better. It is such a frank look at immigration, deportation, relating to family when you are the product of two different cultures, and interracial and intercultural interactions. And it is all told in gorgeous prose with wonderful explanatory chapters sprinkled into the narrative. Take an afternoon and read this in a sunny windowseat. It will warm your heart and make you think.

I think that is all of my favorite books from this year, I might have left off a couple that I really loved, but don't hold it against me! there are so many amazing things that I read this year. I cannot wait to see what 2017 hold for all of us, in reading and in life :) 

xx
Caroline 

   

of fire and stars: stardust reviews

Of Fire and Stars

Audrey Coulthurst

☆☆☆☆

goodreads/b&n/amazon

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


full review under the cut

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

scythe: stardust reviews

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)

Neal Shusterman

 ☆☆☆1/2

goodreads/b&n/amazon

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.


Full review under the cut!


Monday, December 19, 2016

heartless: stardust reviews

Heartless

Marissa Meyer

☆☆☆☆

goodreads/b&n/amazon

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.


full review under the cut! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

stardust arc reviews: maresi

Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles #1)

Maria Turtschaninoff

release date: January 3 by Amulet Books

goodreads/b&n/amazon

Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Maresi, a thirteen-year-old novice there, arrived in the hunger winter and now lives a happy life in the Abbey, protected by the Mother and reveling in the vast library in the House of Knowledge, her favorite place. Into this idyllic existence comes Jai, a girl with a dark past. She has escaped her home after witnessing the killing of her beloved sister. Soon the dangers of the outside world follow Jai into the sacred space of the Abbey, and Maresi can no longer hide in books and words but must become one who acts.

 full review under the cut! 


top ten tuesday: first half of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted over at Broke and Bookish, and this week's theme is  "December 13:  Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017"

1. Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard
release date: January 10

The follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, next in a breathtaking YA fantasy series hailed by Alexandra Bracken as "a world you will want to inhabit forever."

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a "witchery," a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In this follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, a shadow man haunts the Nubrevnan streets, leaving corpses in his wake—and then raising those corpses from the dead. Windwitch continues the tale of Merik—cunning privateer, prince, and windwitch.


 

2.  History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
release date: January 17

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.


3. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas  
release date: February 21

The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.


4.  Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller 
release date: February 28  

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.


5. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life – Benjamin Alire S√°enz
release date: March 7  

From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph
 




6. Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han
release date: April 4 

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?


7. Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer 
release date: April 11 

It all started with the burning of the spindles.
No.
It all started with a curse...

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora's blood--and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.

Spindle Fire is the first book in a lush fantasy duology set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines.


8. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 
release date: April 11  

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.
There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
Right?


9. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh 
release date: May 2 

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.


10. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord 
release date: May 16 


Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?





what is on your lists this week? 

xx
Caroline 
  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

top ten tuesday: new-to-me authors


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish, and this week's theme is " December 6: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016!" I recently did a post where I talked about some pretty awesome new to me authors, but it was only three so I will include them here as well :)

1. Mindy McGinnis– The Female of the Species 

review here

I'd heard about Mindy McGinnis before, about her Not A Drop To Drink series and also about last year's A Madness So Discreet, but I had just never gotten around to reading anything by her, despite the amazing things that I was hearing about her and her writing. So you can imagine my sheer delight when I read The Female of the Species and was utterly blown away by it. One of the best books of the year, imo, and super important as well.

 
2. Anna Marie McLemore– When the Moon Was Ours 

UM!!! Okay. So I received this book as an arc, and I definitely did not have very many expectations for it at all. Not that I wasn't excited, I just hadn't heard much about it and didn't really know what to expect. BUT HOO BOY!! This book was a gorgeous adventure into the world of magical realism, and it looked at contemporary issues through that lens, which ended up being super effective. I definitely applaud Anna Marie McLemore for this novel. 

3. Susan Dennard – Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) 

review here

I know, I know... how had I never read Susan Dennard before this year?? I had heard so much about her Something Strange and Deadly Series, but I'm not a big fan of zombies, and so I just held off. But Truthwitch? Truthwitch was ex-act-ly what I was looking for in a high fantasy. Best friends and magical powers and political intrigue and cute boys? YES. All of the above!! I absolutely cannot wait for the second book to come out in January!

4. Heather Demetrios – I'll Meet You There

I had heard about Heather Demetrios, both from her contemporary and fantasy stuff, but even though Exquisite Captive has been on my TBR for what feels like forever, I had never read anything by her until I picked this book up on a whim in the spring. I was absolutely in love with this story from page one, and I think it took me about a day to read. One of my favorite contemporaries from the year for sure, will definitely read more of Demetrios in the future!

5. C.S. Pacat – Captive Prince Trilogy (book 3, Kings Rising, pictured) 

review here

Y'all do not even know how deep my love for Captive Prince is. I feel like I've talked about it so much on here, but let me just go deeper into my love for it. It is a high fantasy m/m story and I just have no words for how amazing it is. The two main characters are my precious cinnamon rolls, the supporting cast is all kind of awesome, and book three in its entirety is just like everything amazing that you want to happen, happening all at once. I am planning on rereading this series first thing in 2017!!!

6. Alwyn Hamilton – Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) 


This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, because I honestly do not have a lot of interest in westerns, and this book was described to me as western meets middle eastern. BUT I picked it up because the first chapter grabbed me, and I barely put it down until I finished. Y'all this book is so much fun, it is just nonstop action with some awesome character development, magical powers, and a little bit of romance thrown in. Absolutely LOVE.

7. Carrie Firestone – The Loose Ends List 

review here

This was my favorite contemporary that I've read this year. I absolutely adored it. I got it in arc form, completely fell in love, then bought two copies of it when it came out because that is how much I loved it. I have a couple of posts where I just gush about how much I love this one, so I'll keep this brief: This book is heartwrenching and heartwarming all at the same time. It talks about family in a way that just got to me, and I loved the settings. Would be a great Christmas read, IMO, but that's because I think it would be a great anytime read!

8. Adam Silvera – More Happy Than Not 

 I'd honestly followed Adam Silvera on twitter even before I thought about picking this book up, just cause I really like his tweets, so I felt like I had already read something by him, then when I picked this up I realized... no. But in the best way!! This book is so emotional and timely, it made me think a lot about big ideas about society and culture, while also keeping me 100% hooked on the story here. I would highly highly recommend this one!

9. Claire Legrand – Some Kind of Happiness

review here

Again, as with a lot of these authors, I had heard about Legrand, and wanted to read both her Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls and Winterspell, but I never got around to it. This book, however, completely clicked with me when I picked it up. This is a truly amazing depicting of what mental illness looks like in a child who has no words to describe what they are feeling. Magical and important, and I would like to erase it from my memory so I could read it again for the first time.

10. Colleen Hoover– November 9


Okay, before you say anything, I know that it is odd that I've never read Colleen Hoover before! I honestly don't read that much NA, but I'd heard so much about her from so many people, I had to pick one up. People have told me this is not her best by far, but I really enjoyed it and will definitely read her again! 



what is on your lists this week?

xx 
Caroline


Saturday, December 3, 2016

stardust arc reviews: alterations

Alterations
Stephanie Scott

☆☆☆☆

release date: December 6 by Bloomsbury Spark

goodreads/b&n/amazon

If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they'd think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn't know that all the plans she's made for them are just dreams, and that she's the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia's abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can't imagine leaving Miami--and Ethan--for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan's awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The "new and improved" Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she'd have to make.


full review under the cut!

80% Read the Printed Word!