Happy March! There are sooooo many books coming out this month! I have nine (!) books for this edition of Book Beat including some I loved and some, well, I didn’t. Whether you’re looking for big adventure or something sad and moving, I have you covered!
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Pitch: Amazing sequel to Rebel of the Sands — this is an all-time favorite series filled with action, magical creatures, revolution and great characters.
Story: “Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.
When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.”
Quick take: I loved the first book and this one is even more ambitious: bigger stakes, bigger magic and deeper into the world of Djinn. It’s a roller coaster balanced with great character moments. Also, this book belongs to the ladies — the women really kick butt in this book. Don’t miss this series!
If you like your books signed, Alwyn is one of the Penguin Teen authors who begin a book tour next week! She’s based in England so head out and say hi while you can! She’s traveling with the amazing Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn and the upcoming Flame in the Mist), Lesley Livingston (The Valiant) and Natalie C. Anderson (City of Saints and Thieves — which just had its movie rights optioned by Kerry Washington!). For more information on this tour, click here.
Available: March 7th
These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Pitch: The sequel to These Vicious Masks which is about superheroes in Victorian England
Story: “England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.
As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears…”
Quick take: This sequel is even more deadly and fun with a lot of new and exciting powers. There’s a big mystery and a lot more action. A lot! There are some amazing fight scenes with all the different powers in play. There is some romance, but it’s a bit of back burner compared to all the action. But don’t worry, there is still a ton of fun with Mr. Kent and broody Sebastian.
Available: March 14th
Waking in Time by Angie Stanton
Pitch: A lovely, thoughtful romance between two time travelers moving in different directions
Story: “Still mourning the loss of her beloved grandmother and shaken by her mysterious, dying request to ‘find the baby,’ Abbi has just arrived at UW Madison for her freshman year. But on her second day, she wakes up to a different world: 1983. That is just the first stop on Abbi’s journey backward through time. Will is a charming college freshman from 1927 who travels forward through time. When Abbi and Will meet in the middle, love adds another complication to their lives. Communicating across time through a buried time capsule, they try to decode the mystery of their travel, find the lost baby, and plead with their champion, a kindly physics professor, to help them find each other again … even though the professor gets younger each time Abbi meets him. This page-turning story full of romance, twists, and delightful details about campus life then and now will stay with readers long after the book’s satisfying end.”
Quick take: At its heart, this is a romance between Abbi and Will. It’s dressed in a clever time-travel setting that just goes to prove that timing is everything. Because Abbi and Will do not travel through time together, this book requires a little bit more effort to keep their timelines straight, but it’s very well done and easy to follow.
Available: March 1st
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Pitch: Want an emotional read about guilt and grief? Here‘s another winner by Jeff Zentner.
Story: “Can a text message destroy your life?
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?”
Quick take: It’s emotional, it’s sad, it’s melancholy and its hopeful. It’s about survivor’s guilt, grief, best friends, close siblings, distant parents and breaking down relationship barriers. It’s a tough story that will make you cry, laugh at the antics of teenage boys, and it’ll make you hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter.
If you send proof of your pre-order, Jeff will send you a signed bookplate. (See more details here.)
Available: March 7th
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Pitch: Memoirs of a Geisha if geisha skills included magic and raising the dead
Story: “In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…
Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.
When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.”
Quick take: There’s a very dense and textured world with layers of history, a bit of romance and a hint that there’s a whole mess of tragedy to come in the next book in the series. A very promising and interesting new series.
Available: March 7th
The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Pitch: Heart-warming story of an underdog who goes through tragedy before finding her place
Story: “Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?”
Quick take: Wing’s insecurities are so easily relatable but also very fresh in the context of her bi-racial family. It’s great to see her close knit family which revels in all their differences, even if complete strangers don’t get it. Clearly this isn’t a light and fluffy story, but it’s got a lot of heart and a great optimistic message that it shouldn’t be missed.
Available: March 14
You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner
Pitch: The intriguing story of a deaf girl who works out her rage through graffiti
Story: “When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a ‘mainstream’ school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.”
Quick take: This book is about expressing yourself through art and there are some great illustrations (by the author herself) and some adorable chapter headings. For me, this is a great glimpse into life for deaf people and all the ways people react. It’s also an interesting look at street art though it took me a while to adjust to the terminology (but that’s part of the fun).
Available: March 7th
Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
Pitch: Figuring out love and friendship in exciting Tokyo
Story: “Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.
Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?”
Quick take: There’s a lot of drama and hidden secrets here so it’s like a teen soap opera set in glorious Tokyo. This is a love letter to Tokyo and food. Do not read this book on an empty stomach.
Available: March 7th
Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
Pitch: As the publishers says, this is Sons of Anarchy meets Thelma & Louise
Story: “Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens.
Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom ‘sold’ her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline.
But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.”
Quick take: There’s some good word-of-mouth on this book which opens with very little set up. It takes about a third of the book for even the basic plot to get started. If you can get into the characters, it’ll be easier to stick with the book, but it just wasn’t for me.
Available: March 7th
Thanks to Penguin Teen (Traitor to the Throne), Swoon Reads (These Ruthless Deeds) Angie Stanton (Waking in Time), Random House (Goodbye Days, You’re Welcome Universe, The Heartbeats of Wing Jones), Sourcebooks (The Bone Witch), Poppy (Seven Days of You) and Amulet (Done Dirt Cheap) for providing the books for review. Want more details on my impression of these and other books? Check out my ratings and full reviews at Goodreads.