Welcome to another edition of Book Beat! We’re all about books in popular series and the start of a big theme this year – pirates!
Reviews in a heartbeat
Here’s my quick take on some recent releases!
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
For: people who like kick-butt girls with superpowers
Pitch: “Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?”
Quick take: If you liked Red Queen, then you’ll be pleased with Glass Sword. If you haven’t read Red Queen, then read it first since Glass Sword picks up right after Red Queen ends (and because Red Queen is great). The stakes are higher in Glass Sword and we’ll meet folks with even more fascinating abilities. Mare is as feisty and as strong willed as ever while she and Cal are on the run. The book goes in directions you may not expect (yeah!), and we get to see much more of the world and more background on how Mare can have Silver abilities. Also, the ending is bananas. The movie of Red Queen is moving forward and I really want to see the ending for Glass Sword on the silver screen!
Available: February 9. Barnes and Noble will have a signed exclusive edition with a special guide to the elite Silver houses, an alternate ending for Red Queen and an alternate opening for Glass Sword. Target will also have a special edition of Glass Sword. So many options!
Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
For: an adventure on the high seas with lady pirates and giant sea monsters (of the strangely cuddly variety)
Pitch: “For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.
There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.
But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.”
Quick take: A fun, adventure page-turner, Skrutskie immerses the reader quickly into this new world. This is all about girl-power since the pirate crew is mostly female and the few males are kind of token characters. Still, Cas’ work with the Reckoners is well-drawn and there’s extra points here for the diversity of her characters.
Available: February 8
The Siren by Kiera Cass
For: fans of The Selection series or anyone who wants a forbidden-love love story
Pitch: “’You must never do anything that might expose our secret. This means that, in general, you cannot form close bonds with humans. You can speak to us, and you can always commune with the Ocean, but you are deadly to humans. You are, essentially, a weapon. A very beautiful weapon. I won’t lie to you, it can be a lonely existence, but once you are done, you get to live. All you have to give, for now, is obedience and time…’
The same speech has been given hundreds of times to hundreds of beautiful girls who enter the sisterhood of sirens. Kahlen has lived by these rules for years now, patiently waiting for the life she can call her own. But when Akinli, a human, enters her world, she can’t bring herself to live by the rules anymore. Suddenly the life she’s been waiting for doesn’t seem nearly as important as the one she’s living now.”
Quick take: It’s interesting to see author Kiera Cass re-visit her first novel which was previously self-edited. While the focus is the love story between Khalen and Akinli, it’s nice to see the story rounded out with Kahlen’s relationship with her sister sirens and the Ocean. The Siren still feels a little less mature than her The Selection series, but it is still a satisfying story for all that.
Want more details on my impression of these books? Check out my ratings and full review at Goodreads. Thanks to NetGalley and Flux for the eARC of Abyss Surrounds Us and thanks to HarperTeens for Glass Sword and The Siren.
I haven’t had the chance to read these books, yet, but there’s a lot of good word-of-mouth on these titles:
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Pitch: “The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.”
Buzz: Marissa Meyer thought of this as “writing fan fic for my own characters” so expect a fun finish to the Lunar Chronicles.
Available: February 2. Today is the last day to send proof of your pre-order to www.thelunarchroncles.com for a few goodies which includes a peak at Marissa’s next series Heartless which is a new take on Alice in Wonderland.
Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Pitch: “Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son totally changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.
Born a lowly Red in the mines of Mars, Darrow lost his beloved wife to the treacherous Gold overlords. Vowing to fight for the future that his wife believed in, Darrow joins a secret revolutionary group and is remade into a Gold so that he can infiltrate the ruling class and bring them down from the inside. Now, after years of hiding amongst the Golds, Darrow is finally ready to declare open revolution and throw off the chains of oppression. Nothing in Darrow’s world has been easily won, and this final fight will be the most harrowing of all.”
Buzz: This series has been on my TBR list for a while and it may get moved up a few spots since the series will be finished. Time to binge read!
Available: February 9
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys
Pitch: “The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.”
Buzz: I loved Between Shades of Gray which was just such a moving and honest story. I can’t wait to read this one and, lucky me, Ruta is doing a signing in Chicago (at the Book Stall).
Available: February 2
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Pitch: “For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.
The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?”
Buzz: Pirates may be the new vampire this year with all the pirate stories. There are a few twists on Peter Pan coming up as well since he never grows old.
Available: February 2
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Pitch: “Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.”
Buzz: Did I mention there are pirates on the high seas this month? We see a very different Blackbeard on Black Sails right now so this may be a nice contrast to see another view of the legend.
Available: February 9
There are lots of other interesting releases in the next two weeks, so if you’re looking for something more check out:
- Kings Rising by CS Pacat – For mature audiences, this is the final book in a trilogy about a prince thrown from his throne and taken to another country as a pleasure slave. (No, this is not YA.) The blogosphere is buzzing like crazy about this series.
- Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan – The start of a new series that’s a twist on the Rapunzel fairy tale
- Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto – A paranormal mash-up with Western steampunk
- Starflight by Melissa Landers – Science fiction romance between a quarterback and an orphan (sounds odd, but I hear good things about it)
- These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shankler & Kelly Zekas – Pitched as Jane Austen meets X-Men which is enough for me!
These books won’t be out for a couple of weeks, but you may want to put this on your radar!
- Calamity will be the final showdown for the Reckoners! This is the final book in the Brandon Sanderson trilogy that began with Steelheart and continued with Firefight. The books read like a (good) Marvel movie, so if you like comic book movies, then you’ll like this series.
- The Girl from Everywhere by Heidie Helig is one of the buzziest debuts of the season. It features time travel (another big theme this year), pirates (again!) and a girl’s relationship with her dad. Heidi will also be one of the 5 Epic Reads authors at C2E2 (yeah!).
- V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic was one of the most popular SF books last year (runner up to Neil Gaiman according to Goodreads readers). Featuring alternate worlds, its sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, launches soon. Send proof of your pre-order to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a set of 4 art cards featuring key characters.
On the Silver Screen
Don’t forget Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hits the screen this weekend! The previews make it look like a horror movie, but it’s much more than that. All the characters you love from Pride and Prejudice are here, even if they are a bit different. Lots of fun and not super campy so go see it this weekend!
Sharing the love!
To celebrate the end of the Lunar Chronicles, I’m starting at the beginning! I’m giving away a signed copy of Cinder along with a set of Lunar Chronicles gold tattoos.
If you’re new to the series, Cinder is a science fiction take on Cinderella set in space. It sounds a little crazy, but it’s really a lot of fun. Follow me on Twitter (@Cambear) and watch for the announcement on how to enter!