Book Beat’s mini-SDCC book haul and quick takes on Dance of Thieves! #murdertrending!

I meant to write up my San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) adventures, but after a nasty case of con crud and sacrificing my voice for the Avengers: Infinity War signing, I’ve only just begun to feel human again!

I didn’t get to nearly all the SDCC bookish fun I planned, but I did get to a few things! First, I got to meet Emily Suvada, author of one of my favorites, This Mortal Coil. We had a quick chat about her science background, SDCC and Battlestar Galactica. She kindly signed my book and learned that I still haven’t figured out how to take selfies. (Sigh!)

I picked up an ARC of the sequel, This Cruel Design, which was the one book I really wanted! Yeah! With help from friends, I also got a copy of Neal and Jarrod Schusterman’s Dry and the next book in the Mara Dyer/Noah Shaw series: The Reckoning of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin. Three cheers for the Simon & Schuster booth!

I’ll tell you all about these once I read them, but for now, here are my quick takes on some new and upcoming releases!


Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

Pitch: Fantastic new series with unforgettable characters

Story: A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

Quick Take: You don’t need to read the original series, but it does put a few characters and events into greater context. This stands alone fine on its own. Masterful working of tension between Kazi and Jase! Neither person is completely honest about anything except maybe their undeniable attraction. Slow burn on a major scale, this is terrific romance, intrigue and everything you’d expect from this series.

Available: August 7


#murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

Pitch: The Running Man with a group of misfits and some snark

Story: WELCOME TO THE NEAR FUTURE, where good and honest citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0.

When eighteen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she’s about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she’s innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman’s cast of executioners kill them off one by one?

Quick Take: There is definitely a body count and some gruesome deaths in here, but there’s also a good bit of humor to offset that tension. This is a nutty ride with a couple of crazy twists and some strong characters. If you want a bloody page turner, this is a fun and thrilling trip.

Available: August 7


Lovely, Dark and Deep by Justina Chen

Pitch: Engrossing story of a girl who suddenly deals with a mysterious ailment that changes her life plans

Story: What would you do if the sun became your enemy?

That’s exactly what happens to Viola Li after she returns from a trip abroad and develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn’t just have to wear layers of clothes and a hat the size of a spaceship. She has to stay away from all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat when its screen burns her.

Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He’s a funny, talented Thor look-alike who carries his own mysterious grief. But the intensity of their romance makes her take more and more risks, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams

Quick Take: This is a sober tale of a big life change and finding a way to deal and still live your life. There are plenty of geek references to warm my nerdy heart and there are humorous thoughts mixed into this non-frothy tale.

Available: Now


Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

Pitch: Mash-up of Aliens, Alien 3 with a dash of Ender’s Game and Divergent in a science fiction thriller

Story: Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

Quick Take: Lots of action to keep readers engaged and turning the page. There’s suspense, science fiction and horror mixed into this tale of a jailbreak unfortunately timed with an alien invasion. For me, this echoes a little too strongly of other books and movies. I think readers not as familiar with those movies will enjoy this more, but I enjoyed the suspense and action.

Available: Now


A Wolf Apart by Maria Vale

Pitch: The follow up to The Last Wolf with a very different vibe

Story: When the Great North Pack is on the verge of falling apart, Pack wolf Elijah Sorensson wants to give up on his successful life in the human world to return home. But the Alpha says no–Elijah must continue to play his role to protect the Pack from those who want to destroy it.

Knowing he needs strength by his side, he seeks out human Thea Villalobos, a woman he’s admired from the moment he met her. He hopes she can help him break through his human shell before the ailing wolf inside him dies, and before the Pack is betrayed again. But can Thea accept who and what Elijah really is?

Quick Take: In the first book, I loved the complex world-building and the perspective of the runt. This book is from the point of view of Elijah, an Alpha male sent to live off the land. There’s a lot of time spent on the hollow human world, on being a slick player, on being a douche with a conscious. It’s interesting, but not what I wanted from a paranormal romance. So much is spent on Elijah that the romance and female main character are afterthoughts.

Available: Now


Thanks to Macmillan (Dance of Thieves), Freeform (#murdertrending), Scholastic (Lovely, Dark and Deep), Simon & Schuster (Sanctuary) and Sourcebook (A Wolf Apart) 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.

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