As productive as I was at the beginning of the year – having read six books in the month of January alone – I have been so busy reading for work for the past month or so that I have barely had time to read anything on my ever expanding reading list.
At the beginning of the year, I set out to read one book a week – and while I have been doing that if early manuscripts and rough drafts of novels count (I’ve read over 30 this year) – I am currently very far behind at only 18 published books read so far this year (which puts me seven behind schedule according to Goodreads).
Despite the lack of time recently, I have been fairly productive as of late, which is something that I hope will transition to personal reading time as well. At the very least, the books I hope to tackle over the summer should put a good dent in my reading list and will at least fulfill my goal of exploring works that fall out of my typical genres. While many of these books do fall into the fantasy, science fiction or romance genre, some of them have a more contemporary edge. At least there is one mystery novel in the mix – which is something that definitely falls out of my reading comfort zone.
V.E. Schwab, A Conjuring of Light
Synopsis: THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.
Thoughts: V.E. Schwab stole my heart earlier this year when I picked up A Darker Shade of Magic on a whim while dog-sitting for family members that were away on vacation. The Shades of Magic trilogy had been on my TBR since its release and I regret not picking it up sooner – Schwab offers a much-needed voice in fantasy and the books in this series feel perfect in execution.
So far, I am about 100 pages into A Conjuring of Light and I have never felt more satisfied – Schwab manages to begin the story after a painful cliffhanger, but the transition is seamless. If anything, A Conjuring of Light feels like an extension of A Gathering of Shadows, almost as if the two books were once joined in a 1000+ page volume. Full of new voices and a pervading sense of darkness, I look forward to the brief moments of reprieve from freelance work that allow me to dive back into a world that features four distinct Londons.
Seb Doubinsky, Missing Signal
Synopsis: Missing Signal―a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a government conspiracy? Agent Terrence Kovacs has worked for the New Petersburg Counter-Intel Department propagating fake UFO stories for so long that even he has a hard time separating fact from fiction. Especially when he’s approached by a beautiful woman named Vita, who claims she’s been sent from another planet to liberate Earth.
Thoughts: I was sent an ARC of Missing Signal earlier in the year thanks to Meerkat Press and with everything else on my plate, I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I am planning on picking it up after I finish A Conjuring of Light, as it seems like it will be a perfect transition piece – not only is it much shorter by comparison, but the ideas within are refreshing. Not only am I interested in the plot line, which seems to touch on relevant themes and issues in society, including the fake news phenomenon, but there’s a science fiction romance element to it that is extremely appealing, especially as it is quite unlike anything I have read in the genre (at least in recent years).
S.A. Chakraborty, The City of Brass
Synopsis: Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…
Thoughts: The City of Brass has been on my TBR since late last year when it was released. Early reviews compared it to Patrick Rothfuss‘ Name of the Wind and I knew from that moment that I had to pick up this book. Not only is the cover absolutely stunning in person, but the synopsis grabbed my attention immediately. There is something engaging about fantasy novels grounded in the real world – they really make magic feel like a living thing, something that exists but that is just out of reach.
Rainbow Rowell, Landline
Synopsis: Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
Thoughts: After reading Fangirl earlier this year, I knew that I would be picking up the other works in Rainbow Rowell‘s canon before long. Her romance stories are, quite frankly, beautiful, and I would be lying to myself if I didn’t pick up Landline in a desperate attempt to see a bit more of Cath and Levi, who supposedly make a cameo.
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, Illuminae
Synopsis: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Thoughts: Although I have seen countless images of Illuminae on Instagram and own a copy of the book (which I picked up on a whim back in April because it boasted an epistolary format), I have to admit that I have not read the synopsis for the book until now. It is very rare that I pick up a book without a bit of research and prior interest, but it worked well for Sleeping Giants, which was the reason I picked up Illuminae in the first place, so what could possibly go wrong?
Myke Cole, The Armored Saint
Synopsis: In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.
Thoughts: Goodreads and Myke Cole‘s Twitter feed have been full of wonderful comments and recommendations concerning The Armored Saint, a book I have been looking forward to since its release earlier this year. Although I have been trying to be better about buying books recently in an attempt to finish what I have lying around already, I will be making an exception for this one later in the summer.
I can’t wait to jump into Heloise’s adventures and get started on a new trilogy – one that has been described as “epic fantasy at its finest” by many. I am also curious to see how Cole manages to pull off fantasy in a little over 200 pages when the vast majority of novels I have read and fell in love with have been at least double that length.
Tomi Adeyemi, Children of Blood and Bone
Synopsis: They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
Thoughts: I have seen many compare Children of Blood and Bone to Harry Potter, and although I have fond memories of the series and still consider Deathly Hallows and Half-Blood Prince to be two of my favorite books, that is not why I am picking Tomi Adeyemi‘s debut up. Aside from all of the good things I have seen on social media about Children of Blood and Bone, I am so interested in the premise behind it – there is something reminiscent of both Nnedi Okorafor and Nicky Drayden here, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it later this summer.
Kanae Minato, Penance
Synopsis: When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emily by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emily is found murdered hours later.
Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emily’s body was discovered. Asako, Emily’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.
Thoughts: I am always on the lookout for new Japanese authors to read, and after receiving an e-mail where Penance was featured as a Kindle deal of the day, I knew that I would be adding it to my collection of cheap e-books to try out. I don’t always read books that fall into the thriller or mystery genre, although I feel as though I should give the genre a chance, so this is my way of knocking out two reading goals with one book.
Francesca Zappia, Eliza and Her Monsters
Synopsis: Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
Thoughts: You had me at fanfiction. Seriously. While browsing on Goodreads, I happened upon Eliza and Her Monsters and noticed that it was compared to Fangirl in the blurb – that was enough for me to instantly purchase it on Amazon. Pair that with the fact that I see a bit of Eliza in myself – shy, awkward, introverted – and there was no way I was letting this book slip by. Not to mention the fact that I love the cover art, which has proven time and again to be enough for me to pick up a book.
Final Thoughts: Although I am returning to my reading roots in some respects with this reading list, as it has a heavy focus on fantasy and romance, I am hoping that knocking out a few of the more highly anticipated reads will give me more inspiration this summer. If that fails, I can always read Helen Hoang‘s breathtaking debut, The Kiss Quotient again.