Best Books I Read In: February (and you should too!)

Best Books list for February! I read a lot this month, but didn’t find as many gems.

thicker than water coverThis was a ’16 debut I was highly anticipating, and I’m pleased to say it floored me. The writing was beautiful and dealt with so many things like grief and guilt and denial. Plus complicated family and sibling relationships that leapt off the page. I’m always impressed with non-linear stories that pull it off, just like this book did. We jump back and forth between Cecelia becoming a dealer and her dealing days to the present where she’s in the midst of a trial for her brother’s death and in treatment. A wonderful, well-executed novel for sure!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

 

 

 

symptoms coverI did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I was a little iffy on the voice for the first few chapters because there were some awkward sentences and cliche phrases, but thankfully that didn’t become an issue. Riley’s voice was beautiful, rich, and humorous. I was also concerned this would become a preachy book on the woes of social media, but it wasn’t that, either. Instead this was a complexly drawn (is that a thing?) novel about identity, and I adored it. Riley is gender-fluid, an orientation I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know a lot about. Riley deals with bullying, anxiety, family drama, and a growing internet presence Riley’s not sure how to handle. And through it all this novel never feels dark or like an “issue” book, as they are sometimes called. It’s just a really well told story that touches on timely subjects.

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? What are your favorite recent reads?

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Happy Book Birthday, REBEL OF THE SANDS!

downton abbey happy dance feels freaking out

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real life or fantasy

REBEL OF THE SANDS is a special book to me. I love it the way people love the Harry Potter books or Tolkein or Narnia. It was the first fantasy I read that said everything I needed it to, that was everything I needed it to be.

Amani, thank you for being rebellious and selfish and so unabashedly yourself. Thank you for being a feminist. Thank you for kicking major ass. Thank you for the sass. Thank you for feeling lost. Thank you for losing your way. Thank you for finding your way.

Jin, thank you for your perfect face (and chest). Thank you for being a feminist (swoon). Thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for your traitor eyes. Thank you for your devotion–which I guess could be loyalty, but don’t ruin this with logic. Thank you for your Jin-ness which I’m just realizing I don’t really know how to explain without divulging the entire plot.

Shira, thank you for being so unabashedly yourself, no matter how insufferable you can be.  *Shira-stan flag flies*

Shazad, thank you for your epic-nose breaking-badassness. Thank you for taking risks and fighting for what you believe in.

Ahmed, thank you for your ideals. Thank you for your belief in the people you love. Thank you for the rebellion.

Delila, Imin, Bahi, *smothers you all in hugs*

These characters are as precious to me as the Golden Trio or the Fellowship. This world is as beautiful as Hogwarts and Middle Earth, with myths and fairy tales weaved into the narrative and brimming with magic on every page.

The happiest of book birthdays to you, REBEL OF THE SANDS, and my friend, Alwyn Hamilton. You have crafted a magnificent story I have read over and over again with the same levels of enthusiasm each time, and I expect many readers will feel the same.


~ABOUT THE BOOK~

rebel of the sands coverTitle: REBEL OF THE SANDS
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Pub Date: March 8, 2016 from Viking Books for Young Readers/Penguin/Faber + Faber
Amazon: Buy it!
B&N: Buy it!
Waterstones: Buy it!
Book Depository: Buy it!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves 
or borrow it from your local library 🙂

Find Alwyn on tour around the US with other Penguin authors!

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.

 

The Tsar’s Guard: THE CROWN’S GAME Soundtrack + Giveaway

Hello and welcome to The Tsar’s Guard Parade!

The Tsar’s Guard are a legion of readers who are super excited for the release of The Crown’s Game. Read on for more info about this amazing book, take a listen to some beautiful instrumentals that remind me of the story, and enter the giveaway! Oh, and if you want to join The Tsar’s Guard, all the info is on Evelyn’s website (linked below!) and you should cause it’s awesome (secret emails!).

CrownsGame hc cAbout the Book:

Title: THE CROWN’S GAME
Author: Evelyn Skye
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

About Evelyn:
Evelyn Skye head shot high res

Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at http://www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram


 

~The Crown’s Game Soundtrack~

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*Picture this: Dueling magicians whose arena are the streets you take to school and to work, the bridge in the park you walk on a romantic evening stroll with your love, on a mysterious island that appears out of nowhere…

tsar's guard magician

*Picture this: A young girl leaves her village and journeys to the big city with only a token from her loving father. She is alone. She has a mission. She is powerful. And she will not lose.

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*Picture this: A boy sees a girl battle lightning. This boy soon realizes their fates are entwined in The Crown’s Game. The Crown’s Game can only have one victor.

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*Picture this: A young prince is trapped by duty and responsibility. His sister is more suited to the life planned for him. His mother is ill and his father hides dangerous secrets. He longs for a girl he saw best lightning, but destiny is a hard thing to escape.

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*Picture this: At a masked ball, a prince can finally meet the lightning girl he’s been longing for. Two dueling magicians can finally share a dance.

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*Picture this: Two young magicians enter a game that can only have one victor. Two young magicians are intrigued by each other anyway.

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*Picture this: A final showdown on a magical island that two magicians have made for each other. 

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*Picture this: Two young magicians keep their promise to the Crown’s Game, and a young prince faces his destiny.

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Enter the Giveaway! 

1 winner will receive an ARC of THE CROWN’S GAME. International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

^^^ clicky 🙂
Here’s an image I really loved but wasn’t sure where to use.russia winter tsar's guard


 

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Find the complete Tsar’s Guard Parade Schedule at Evelyn Skye’s website!

ARC Review: THE DARKEST CORNERS by Kara Thomas

Holy shit, guys. I don’t even think this is going to be a review, but more like a deluge of feels.

darkest corners cover.jpgTitle: THE DARKEST CORNERS
Author: Kara Thomas
Pub Date: April 19, 2016 from Penguin Random House–Delacorte
B&N: Pre-order it
Amazon: Pre-order it
Goodreads: ADD IT NOW
Launch event at Books of Wonder on April 19!!!!

For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Thanks to Netgalley for granting me an e-arc.

Firstly, this book is some Courtney Summers level of feels. I was not prepared, nor was I expecting to fall in love with this book. I read the Prep School Confidential series, and thought it was just fine. It didn’t blow me away or anything, so I didn’t particularly have high hopes for this book. Then it got me. It just grabbed me right from the beginning.

This is a story of friendship, a broken friendship, where two girls are ripped apart by a single event and then brought back together because of that event. Tessa and Callie’s relationship is the heart of this book. The other heart is the relationship between Tessa, her sister, and mother. For a book all about violence towards women and the violence women do, this book had beautiful, fleshed out female relationships that never made the violence feel gratuitous or scintillating. This is a book about horrible things happening to women, and also about women living and breathing and making choices.

I could tell you I love Tessa and all the complexities that went into the choices she made as a kid and as a teenager. I could tell you I love how big this world was, full of all kinds of people that played major and minor roles in the mystery. I could tell you this is a story of how the world treats and values girls and women, but these would all just be massive understatements.

This would be one also: I absolutely love this book.

THE DARKEST CORNERS is a story about the people you thought you knew and all the ways you can never truly know someone. Gorgeous writing, tightly plotted, and rich characters make this a standout novel and one of my favorites.  

Cover Thoughts
secrets mouth full of colin
Does she not look like she has lots of SECRETS???

Favorite Quotes [from an ARC so check the final print version]
“The only reason they listened to our story as kids was because they needed it. No was ever really listening to us at all.”

“Nice girls are always the ones who get hurt. It’s like the universe gets some sort of perverse pleasure out of taking out the nice girls one by one, while the whole world watches and gets some perverse pleasure from mourning the loss of yet another nice girl.”

“Then the rest of the world forgot about Fayette, Pennsylvania, and all its dead girls.”

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Favorite Character
Tessa!!
this is insanity

ps I’ve literally just finished this book and am so far into my book hangover that I can’t do anything else but think about this book and want to yell at everyone about it.

Are you excited for THE DARKEST CORNERS?