What’s new this month

Spring is almost here, and the spring releases have finally arrived!

300954643/7 – The Bone Witch – by Rin Chupeco

A story about a girl who accidentally brings her brother back to life, revealing she’s a necromancer, or bone witch. Shunned by her community, she and her brother are taken in by an older bone witch so Tea can begin mastering her powers and other elemental magic. Trouble brews on the horizon and Tea needs to be ready. Pitched as a retelling of Memoirs of a Geisha with Name of the Wind.  I don’t often encounter retellings of modern stories, so consider me intrigued!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

314512673/7 – The Song Rising – by Samantha Shannon

Book three in this dystopian fantasy series finds Paige Mahoney the new queen of London’s Underworld, desperately trying to stabilize the secret voyant community as Scion attempts to destroy them once and for all. Now her enigmatic boss Jaxon Hall is her open enemy, and a new technology known as Senshield threatens to wipe out all voyants if they do not unite and act quickly. I really enjoyed the second book and I have high hopes for this one as Paige becomes even more powerful!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

257014633/7 – You’re Welcome, Universe – by Whitney Gardner

This debut novel has me very excited! Julia is a graffiti artist at Kingston School for the Deaf, but when she artfully covers up a slur directed at her best friend, her friend lands her in the principal’s office. Expelled, her mothers send her to a mainstream school, where she is the only deaf student. Isolated and outcast, she finds solace in her art—until that starts getting attention from a rival artist. I feel like I already love Julia and I can’t wait to read this story!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

303126173/28 – The Gauntlet – by Karuna Riazi

An MG novel pitched as steampunk Jumanji with Middle Eastern flair. (It’s only March and these pitches are killing it!) Farah and her two best friends are sucked into the game The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand and must defeat the game’s architect to free themselves and everyone else trapped inside the game—including her baby brother Ahmed. Of course they face inventive and terrifying obstacles! I know I will end up reading this in one sitting, it sounds absolutely fantastic!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

284492073/28 – Strange the Dreamer – by Laini Taylor

I read the teaser almost a year ago and I’ve been itching to get my hands on this ever since! Lazlo Strange is obsessed with finding the mythic, ruined city of Weep and learning what happened to it. There are mysteries, dead gods, living goddesses, and a bunch of other strange things. Solving the history of Weep is Lazlo’s dream, whether he wants it or not. It sounds similar to the Atlantis myth but beyond that it’s pure speculation as to what fresh wonders are in store for us!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

299390473/28 – A Crown of Wishes – by Roshani Chokshi

I fell in love with the beautiful language and evocative imagery in The Star-Touched Queen and I have desperately wanted this book since its cover reveal (how can it be even more gorgeous?!) Gauri and Vikram made minor appearances in that book but they take center stage in this one as they compete to win the Tournament of Wishes and escape the constraints of their lives. In this ethereal world of myth and mystery I’m sure there are many surprises for them to uncover!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


What to read again:

Ever since Harry Potter I’ve enjoyed re-reading the previous books in a series before the next one comes out. You get to soak up all the nuances and speculate about what’s going to happen next—it just makes the whole experience richer and more fun! What am I going to start re-reading?

The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon

This is a case where the first book was on the fence for me in spots, and the second book was amazing! (You can see my reviews here and here). This is a seven-book series set in a futuristic London where clairvoyants (voyants) are hunted by Scion (the government). Paige is a Dreamwalker, a powerful voyant part of a criminal underworld gang (as most voyants are in London) kidnapped as part of Bone Season XX. She learns that behind Scion is an even more powerful, otherworldly force determined to hunt down and destroy the voyants in organized waves known as Bone Seasons. As you can see from my attempt at a summary, the world-building is complex, and that includes a huge cast of characters and vocabulary. I have to say though, that this is a world that sticks with you and I’m very excited for the next installment!

Originally scheduled for a November release, this was delayed until March 2017. However, these books are bit hefty so I decided to promote this re-read with enough time to get through them both, because I have a feeling you’ll need a sharp memory to jump into book three. If you need some assistance, Recaptains has the first book summarized here but there will be spoilers! Get on board now and re-enter Scion in March!

Note: Bloomsbury decided to repackage this series and designed simpler covers for the remaining books. The design on the left is the regular version. The design on the right that matches the previous covers is a special collector’s edition that was available as a pre-order. Both versions will be released on the same day. Going forward, the publisher will be releasing both versions so that if you want, all the hardcovers can match.

Backlist Bonus: The Bone Season

13636400by Samantha Shannon
Fantasy/Science Fiction
3 of 5 stars
Debut novel – August 20, 2013

This 2013 genre-mashing novel was hyped as a seven-book series by a 21-year-old author slated as the next J.K. Rowling. So you know, no pressure! Although I was hesitant to believe all the gushing reviews, I knew I had to check it out. The world combines Victorian-esque England with the magic of clairvoyant abilities and the paranormal existence of the Rephaim, all set in the year 2059. The Rephaites took over the government, called Scion, and systematically hunt voyants to use for their own purposes. Ordinary people hate and fear voyants, so the only refuge for them are underground organizations, much like the mafia.

Paige is a dreamwalker, able to break into other people’s minds and steal information, which is why her crime lord Jaxon Hall keeps her safe for his use. When Paige is captured by the Rephaim as part of Bone Season XX, she discovers the hidden world within her own. If she doesn’t escape she’ll die in the service of the beings who enslaved her people.

As you may have guessed, there is a lot of information to absorb from beginning to end! In addition to the political workings of the oppressive Scion government, there is the underground network of voyants, a long glossary of terms and slang, and a large cast of characters to keep straight. It’s extremely ambitious for a debut novel and for that reason I was intrigued enough to finish it. I wasn’t “wowed” at first, but about 250 pages in, it becomes much more impressive and engrossing. What I enjoyed most was the villainous Nashira, always two steps ahead of our heroine and not prone to excessive dialogue regarding her plans for world domination.

The sequel, The Mime Order, came out earlier this year, and it was far more enjoyable, so for that reason I definitely recommend checking out this series! It’s sure to get even better as it progresses.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Bone Season is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Samantha Shannon touts this as one of her favorite books, and there are similarities in style and narration here, as well as the idea of an all-seeing government. See my review here.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – This is similar in that ordinary people are controlled through pleasure and trust in the system, and questioning that existence or treatment of other humans is rebellion.
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – In 1899 New York City, the titular characters escape their masters and try to forge an existence in a land they don’t understand. It has similar pacing, with a touch more magic, a smaller cast, and no political layers. See my review here.

The Mime Order

17901125by Samantha Shannon
Fantasy/Science Fiction
4 of 5 stars
sequel to The Bone Season, part of a seven-book series

This series does a lot of genre-bending, so “fiction” just about works for me. There’s some magic, some dystopian aspects, some steampunk nuances, the Rephaim are aliens so you could say there’s some science fiction thrown in as well…this series is its own animal. Maybe a sleek leopard with one clunky peg-leg (a metaphor for the enormous amount of indexed terms, voyant orders, and large cast of characters that can blur together at times). For the most part, this leopard makes for a smooth, focused read, but occasionally it develops a limp. Enough with the peg-leg leopard.

My Goodreads review of The Bone Season is as follows: Very good, but I was not “wowed.” Bit of a slow start filled with some confusing exposition, but about 250 pages in, it becomes a much more impressive debut. Biggest credit goes to having a villain (Nashira) that’s not stupid or prone to monologuing, as well as to the enigmatic Warden, who never says too much.

Full disclosure: I was put off enough by the first book that I didn’t re-read it before jumping into the Mime Order. I remembered enough of the general plot that I figured anything else was superfluous, and I was mostly right. A couple moments were alluded to that I didn’t recall, but that’s my due. However, I enjoyed this book a million times more than its predecessor. Maybe because the structure was clearer and I was already familiar with the world, but Shannon’s growth as a writer is very evident. But if a huge cast of characters and lots of made up slang annoyed you before, it still will. That said, this was enough of an improvement from the first one that I will probably read the rest of the series. It was as theatrical as the cover (which incidentally, this book is one of the most beautiful in my collection) and there’s so much more to love here, if you give it a chance.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Mime Order is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads: 

  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – This is a slow-build plot with intense world-building and lighter character development. I confess, I didn’t finish it, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be someone else’s cup of tea.
  • Lirael by Garth Nix – Again, a slow-building plot with a reasonably compelling female protagonist.
  • A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer – Teenage Faris is sent to finishing school by her corrupt uncle so he can continue ruling her dukedom for her. When she realizes Greenlaw College unofficially teaches magic, things get interesting. The comparison to Harry Potter isn’t accurate, I’d peg it for being more similar to A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Kell is one of the last Antari, magicians that can travel between the four parallel worlds that converge in London. But when he accidentally transports a piece of Black London to Red London, all hell breaks loose. See my review here.

If you want something that moves a bit quicker, try these YA authors:

  • anything by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes – She writes very fast-paced YA fantasy.
  • The Hunger Games or Divergent – dystopian worlds by Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth, respectively, both with female protagonists. See my review of The Hunger Games here and Divergent here.
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – We follow a girl trying to survive after the zombie apocalypse. See my review here.

Obviously, if you want to take Shannon’s world to a darker, more realistic level, refer to these masters of dystopian worlds: George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Margaret Atwood

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