T5W: Books that deal with tough topics

Time for another Top 5 Wednesday! I haven’t done one of these since November, which is shockingly long ago, and I seem to have missed some really interesting themes! Speaking of which: Today’s theme is books with “hard” topics, such as mental health, illness, sexual assault, etc. And since I’m a sucker for a good tear-jerker (as books that touch on these topics often are), I’ve managed to find quite a few on my bookshelves. 😉 As always, it was difficult narrowing it down to just five, but here are some of my favourites:

Katie McGarry//Crash Into You5) Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

The Pushing the Limits series is full of characters with difficult backgrounds (orphans, runaways, drug dealers, etc.) but I singled out Crash Into You for a couple of reasons, even though most of its themes aren’t quite so heavy as in the other books in the series. Firstly, because it’s my favourite book in the series – but more importantly, because Rachel (one of the book’s two protagonists) suffers from anxiety, which is something I’ve not come across often in my literary wanderings, and makes for a really interesting read.

Haruki Murakami//Norwegian Wood4) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

What to say about Norwegian Wood? It’s a hard-hitter right from the beginning, with Toru narrating his childhood best friend’s suicide, and much of the book also deals with depression… it only gets darker as it goes on. Murakami’s slow, ponderous – almost hypnotic – writing style fits the tone of the novel perfectly, and had me caught up in its atmosphere for a long time after I’d finished reading.

Lionel Shriver//We Need to Talk about Kevin3) We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The story of a woman trying to raise a child who hates her, and is strongly implied to be a psychopath. Of course, Eva is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and her opinions colour everything in this book – which is written in the form of letters to her husband – but I think it still counts. 🙂

Jenn Bennett//Night Owls2) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

The “tough topic” in this book came as something of a surprise to me when I first picked it up, but I thought it was incredibly well-integrated into the story. Really, this book is a cute romance between aspiring medical illustrator Beatrix, and notorious teenage graffiti artist Jack – but later on, there’s an important new character introduced, who suffers from schizophrenia.

Sally Green//Half Bad1) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green

Okay, so I’ll admit that this is mostly at no. 1 because I’m currently getting close to the end of Half Lost, and am obsessed. In my defence, though, it’s a brilliant series, and seriously dark in places (by which I mean from beginning to end). Even when we’re first introduced to Nathan (the main character), he’s locked in a cage, and is being tortured on a regular basis… and it never seems to let up. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll get a happy ending, but I’m definitely not going to hold my breath.

[Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey. To find out more, or to join in, please check out the Goodreads group.]

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September Wrap Up

Well, September has been a bit of a let-down, especially after August, which was a really great reading month. I did manage to read quite a bit (though not as much as I usually would – once again, I got distracted by video games), but for much of the month, I felt like every book I’d read was either terrible, or a disappointment in some way… I probably just had my expectations too high for the latter ones. :/ But in any case, this September, I managed to get through a grand total of five novels, and five comic books. Here’s what I thought of them:

Ryan North//Adventure Time vol. 1Adventure Time Volume 1 by Ryan North. Wacky adventures with Finn & Jake in the land of Ooo! I actually don’t know too much about Finn & Jake, as, generally speaking, I prefer the genderswapped uiverse (with Fionna & Cake), but this comic was super-fun, and I’m looking forward to the next volume. 🙂3 starsHolly Bourne//SoulmatesSoulmates by Holly Bourne. A romance between two teenagers whose relationship is threatened by… government agents who monitor weird, unbelievable sci-fi crap? I feel bad for rating this book so low, because I really wanted to like it – there were a few moments that made me laugh (particularly in the first few chapters), and Poppy & Noah’s romance was surprisingly cute, once I managed to get past the part of the book where they were just being obnoxious gits to each other… The writing was okay, but most of the characters were unbearable. And all the government stuff? It completely ruined the story. 😦 Holly Bourne also seemed to be trying really hard to push a feminist message with this book, but it was never expressed properly (usually just coming across as man-hating instead) and just fell completely flat. I ended up feeling like I’d just wasted my time reading this book… which is something that (fortunately) doesn’t happen often. :/1 starSarah J. Maas//Queen of ShadowsQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which follows the assassin Celaena Sardothian – and saying anything else about the plot of this book would be spoilery, so I’ll keep it to myself~ 😉 That said, I felt that this book was a bit of a let down after Heir of Fire (which was definitely the best in the series so far). I still enjoyed the book a lot, and plot-wise it was as epic as I was hoping, but in regards to the romance (which, let’s face it, is an important part of this series’ popularity), I wish that Maas could take back everything that happened in Queen of Shadows… 😦 On a more positive note, though, I found Dorian’s perspective surprisingly interesting, and I really hope that that’ll continue for the rest of the series; Elide was an interesting new character, and I’m looking forward to seeing her interact with Celaena; the climax was absolutely epic; and Manon has now been solidified as my favourite character (though I wish that she and Petrah had met up again at some point) – and her’s was probably my favourite perspective to read from.4 starsKatie McGarry//Chasing ImpossibleChasing Impossible by Katie McGarry. The fifth book in the Pushing the Limits series, which follows Abby – Isaiah and Rachel’s friend from Crash Into You – and Logan, one of Ryan’s baseball friends in Dare You To. Abby is a drug dealer, and is struggling to keep her friends and loved ones safe from the dangers of her world, while Logan – an adrenaline junkie – is hiding his diabetes from his friends, because he doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable. Abby & Logan’s story was great, too – I really liked both of them in the previous books, and they were both very sympathetic leads here. Chasing Impossible wasn’t quite as good as some of the better books in the series (i.e. Crash Into You and Pushing the Limits), but it was definitely better than the worse ones (e.g. Dare You To and Take Me On), and I had a fun time reading it.4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 1Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. The story of two siblings – Emily and Navin – who move to a new house with their mother after their father’s death. The house, however, turns out to be connected to a parallel world, full of monsters, and when their mother disappears one night, Emily and Navin must cross over in order to rescue her. This was a great start to the series: Fun, but with a slightly ominous atmosphere hanging over everything that happened – I found myself constantly holding my breath, waiting for something terrible to happen, which really added to the experience. In terms of the art, I’m not a huge fan of the character design, but it is growing on me, and the backdrops and the monsters are all wonderfully creepy. I’m definitely looking forwards to seeing where this series goes. 🙂4 stars

Kazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 2Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi. The adventure continues! This volume wasn’t quite so creepy, but the story is progressing very nicely, and I really liked Leon, the new character who was introduced in this book. I’m also pretty intrigued by Trellis, and I’m hoping he’s going to be joining the crew at some point~ 🙂4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 3Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi. In which Emily & the crew search for the sky city of Cielis. This is the last of the volumes that I’ve managed to get hold of so far, which is a shame, since I’m really eager to read the rest of the series, now! And this book was even better than the last two – I came very close to giving it five stars~ 😀4 starsNeil Gaiman//Sandman vol. 7The Sandman, Volume 7: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman. A book that’s been on my currently-reading list for quite some time – not because I haven’t been enjoying it, but because I find the Sandman books quite heavy sometimes, and consequently I have to be in a very particular mood to pick them up. This volume follows Dream and Delirium as they go on a journey in search of their missing brother Destruction… And I really liked it. A lot more than I liked some of the other volumes (though I doubt anything in this series will ever live up to the perfection that was volume 2). But most of all, I thought it was great to get some new insights into Delirium’s character. She’s definitely one of the more intriguing members of the Endless.4 starsKate Cann//FiestaFiesta by Kate Cann. The first book in the unoriginally-named Beach series, which was mostly terrible (though it was still better than Soulmates). This was my Library Scavenger Hunt book for September, so I’ve written a proper review of it – you can read it here.1 starKeith Austin//Snow, WhiteSnow, White by Keith Austin. A slightly odd tale about a young boy (John) who starts seeing strange images in the mirror – and then his whole world starts to change. Surprisingly, this is only vaguely connected to any fairytales, and I didn’t notice any Snow White references at all (though there is an enchanted sleep at one point). Instead, it pitches itself as a horror story… I didn’t actually find it too scary, but it was quite eerie, and the writing was very atmospheric. A pleasant surprise at the end of what has, quite frankly, been a rather underwhelming month. I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can read here.3 stars

The Playlist Tag

The playlist tag was created Little Red Reader, and I wasn’t tagged by anyone, but I decided to do it after seeing Elisabeth Paige’s video. Basically, you just have to set your playlist to random, and pick a book to go with each song that comes up.

If you’re interested, I’ve made a video playlist of my songs, for your listening pleasure~

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess1) Vienna Teng, Anna Rose

Since this is a lullaby, I thought it was only fitting that I chose a book about dreaming and imagination, so my pick for this song is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Sara, left destitute after her father dies, is forced to become a servant to pay off his debt to her fancy boarding school, and finds refuge in the stories she learnt when she lived with him in India.

Anna Rose, it’s time to dream:
I see that your imagination knows no bounds.
There it flows like some magical stream,
And carries you on its journey.

Lauren Oliver//Delirium2) Lucie Silvas, Twisting the Chain

This song fits Lena and Alex from the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver pretty well, I think. There’s a lot of love between them, but everything that’s happened to them just seems to make them constantly on edge around each other.

I can see you’re hurting –
You wear it like a coat of armour.

Tamora Pierce//Melting Stones3) Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance

Of course, I can’t seem to do any kind of tag without mentioning my favourite author, so the book I chose for I Hope You Dance is Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce. In this book in particular, Evvy has to decide who she wants to be in the future – whether she’ll be a force for good, or for destruction.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance.

Paullina Simons//The Bronze Horseman4) Journey South, English Rose

This song will forever make me think of Rose and the Doctor from Doctor Who (and, in fact, the only version of the song that I could find on youtube was a Doctor/Rose fan-video… 😳 ), but since that’s not a book (or rather, I haven’t read any of the Doctor Who books…), I had to go with my second choice: The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons! Tatiana and Alexander have to go through so much, but even so, they never give up on each other~ ❤

No bonds… nothing… no one… will ever keep me from she.

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter Me5) The Dresden Dolls, Girl Anachronism

I knew as soon as this showed up on my playlist that I was going to have to pick the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi! Juliette’s not quite as messed up as the girl in this song, but the people who locked her up still have a lot to answer for.

I might be catching, so don’t touch.

Morgan Matson//Amy & Roger's Epic Detour6) The Dandy Warhols, Bohemian Like You

Number six is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, which I chose mostly for the feel of it – near-strangers who both get along so well, dancing around the issue of possibly-more-than-friends, but having a great time of it regardless. 🙂

It’s you that I want, so please,
Just a casual, casual easy thing,
Is it? It is for me.

Sarah Dessen//Someone Like You7) Billy Joel, Only the Good Die Young

Another contemporary, of course, but this time it’s Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen, where dependable Halley falls in with the charming but slightly wild Macon.

They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait,
And some say it’s better, but I say it ain’t.

I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints –
The sinners are much more fun.

Sally Green//Half Bad8) Belle & Sebastian, Waiting for the Moon to Rise

This time it’s the Half Life trilogy by Sally Green, which is all about the journey – running from the past, along a path with an uncertain destination. The books have a rather more urgent pace than this mellow song, but I think it still fits…

I was following a trail
I’d never been along before,
Chasing darkened skies above me.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone9) Belle & Sebastian, Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying

This one’s a bit of a stretch, as the song can be a little random in places, but I ended up picking the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, mostly because there’s a verse that reminds me so much of how I felt the first time I read it. 😉 (Bear with me, this quote is kind of long…)

I’ll settle down with some old story about a boy who’s just like me:
Thought there was love in everything and everyone – you’re so naïve!
They always reach a sorry ending; they always get it in the end.

Still it was worth it as I turned the pages solemnly, and then,
With a winning smile, the boy with naïvety succeeds!
At the final moment, I cried – I always cry at endings…

Katie McGarry//Crash Into You10) Avril Lavigne, Anything But Ordinary

For this final song, I chose Crash Into You by Katie McGarry – a book about love and teenagers and wanting to be seen. And driving. Very fast.

Sometimes I drive so fast,
Just to feel the danger.
I want to scream,
It makes me feel alive.

December Wrap Up

This month I managed to get through thirteen books! Or rather, ten novels, two short stories, and one art-book. Certainly not my best reading month, but then again, December never is (there’s always so much to do!), so I’m pretty satisfied with this. Anyway, here’s what I thought of it all:

Rae Carson//The Bitter KingdomThe Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. A really satisfying conclusion to the trilogy (which seems to be rare these days). All the different threads of the story were wrapped up nicely, and it was lovely to see Cosmé, Alodia and Ximena again (however briefly). The pacing of the book was pretty fast, and though I didn’t feel that it was necessary for Hector to have his own POV chapters, I found myself liking them anyway. What struck me most about this final instalment, however, was the humour – which is not to say that the book was a particularly funny one, but Rae Carson had a great way of diffusing the tension whenever it got too thick (particularly towards the end), and some of my favourite moments were the little character interactions that made me chuckle (i.e. Red being introduced to Rosario; Storm and Waterfall talking about the Joyans; & so many more…).5 starsSally Green//Half LiesHalf Lies by Sally Green. A short story set in the Half Life universe, that I only discovered by accident when I stumbled upon it on Amazon… It’s written in diary form, and told from the perspective of a young Black Witch called Michèle – Gabriel’s younger sister. The story itself was very simple: It fleshed out the world a little, and introduced some more bits of Black Witch culture, which was interesting (and was also something that  was really hoping for after reading Half Bad), and it also explained how Gabriel became a fain, but at its heart it’s really a love story, between Michèle and a boy called Sam. It’s a little sad, but there’s some humour, too (and of course Gabriel is the type of guy who’d read his sister’s diary 😉 ). I’m a little curious about Caitlin’s motivations, and I hope that it might be touched on in the rest of the series, though I’m not sure how it would come into the story…4 stars

Cassandra Clare//City of BonesCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I realise that I probably should have read this before reading the Infernal Devices trilogy, but I have no regrets – and (as an interesting but not particularly important aside) having read Clockwork Princess certainly gave me a different perspective of Brother Jeremiah than I probably would have had otherwise… I enjoyed the book a lot, despite the fact that I’ve heard that it’s the weakest in the series, and it was different enough from the film (which I saw a couple of months ago) that I didn’t feel that I already knew the story. In terms of the main characters: I liked Clary and Isabelle well enough, and I really liked Alec, but I thought Simon was a little bland, and Jace somewhat too… snarky for my tastes. Overall, it was good fun, though, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.4 starsThe Gernsback Continuum by William Gibson (from The Time Traveller’s Almanac). A short story that is less about actually travelling through time, and more about seeing through time (or perhaps into another world). A little on the trippy side, but enjoyable all the same, and Gibson has a very fluid writing style, which makes things easy to picture.3 starsTahereh Mafi//Shatter MeShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. A dystopian superpower book, about a girl with a lethal touch. I liked it a lot, though I felt that the first-person perspective held it back a little, at least in terms of world-building (which I would like to have seen more of), and it bothered me to a surprising degree that Juliette’s powers haven’t yet been explained. I enjoyed Juliette’s voice, though, and the disjointed writing style really brought out the fragility of her mind – in a way, it was almost like reading a journal, with all the crossed-out passages… Romance-wise, I’ve already been spoiled for this series’ endgame, but I’m enjoying the way that Juliette interacts with both Adam and Warner; character-wise, I like basically everyone so far (and even Warner is interesting, if not pleasant), and I’m looking forward to reading more.2 starsKatie McGarry//Breaking the RulesBreaking the Rules by Katie McGarry. The last book in the Pushing the Limits series, set between the first two books, and following Noah and Echo, the main couple in the first book. It was definitely great to see Noah and Echo again (they’re my favourites), and how they interact now that they’ve been a couple for a little while longer. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as either Pushing the Limits or Crash Into You, but it’s earned a pretty solid bronze medal, and it was a close call. Noah and Echo’s relationship development was very realistic, and the story addressed some of their issues that weren’t tackled in the first book. I also really enjoyed the interaction between Echo and Beth, which took me a little by surprise, as I’ve never liked Beth very much in any of the previous books…4 stars17378508Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I really enjoyed this book, but for some reason I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did the previous two… In the beginning, especially, I loved the scenes with Blue and Gansey (I wish there’d been more of them), and I also find myself growing more attached to Ronan after the events of The Dream Thieves. Malory’s part in the book was hilarious (and the Dog!), and I really liked Jesse Dittley (the part where he met Malory was one of my favourite quotes in the book). I think, however, then the book would have benefitted from a stronger antagonist: In the first book there was Whelk; in the second there was Mr. Gray and Kavinsky; in the third there was Greenmantle, but he seemed a little lackluster, and except for Adam and Ronan, none of the characters seemed to be particularly concerned about him… There was a lot of good build-up for the last book, though, so I’m definitely excited about that. 🙂4 starsAlexandra Bracken//Brightly WovenBrightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken. This book was surprisingly fast-paced for a high fantasy novel, and I feel that that held it back somewhat – the world-building was lacking, the characters moved from place to place too quickly, and the story’s climax came out of nowhere and was over in what seemed like a flash. Despite its flaws, though, it was an interesting story, with likeable characters and a sweet (if predictable) romance, and it plays to its strengths well, with the writing focusing more on Sydelle and North’s relationship than on the plot. It reads a little like High Fantasy-Lite, but it was definitely enjoyable all the same.3 starsStudio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the Secrets of Takahata and Miyazaki Animation by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. A catalogue (I think) from the Hong Kong exhibition of the same name. The written parts of the book were a little technical for my taste, but would probably be more interesting to somebody who’s hoping to get into animation as a hobby or profession… The main highlight for me was (naturally) the art, though, and there was a lot of it in here, and it was all absolutely beautiful. Some of the pictures I even almost preferred as rough sketches (there was a before-and-after section in the book). A wonderful, wonderful book. (There are so many Ghibli films that I still need to see!)5 starsWendy Higgins//See MeSee Me by Wendy Higgins. A romance novel about an arranged marriage between a human girl and a leprechaun. The premise was interesting, I thought, but I found the story and characters rather lacklustre, and everything about the romance was far too convenient – despite not having communicated in any way for their entire seventeen-year engagement, they fall in love almost immediately… Insta-love isn’t something that I always have a problem with in romance books, but in this one I thought that it felt very contrived. The plot, however, was what I had the biggest problem with: It basically consisted of a tug-of-war between two uninteresting girls, over an equally uninteresting boy… It wasn’t the worst book I’d ever read, but…1 starAnders Nilsen//Rage of PoseidonRage of Poseidon by Anders Nilsen. A graphic novel portraying the god Poseidon (and several other divine figures) in the modern world. This is actually a collection of several different stories with the same theme, which I wasn’t expecting, but I really enjoyed all of them. My favourites were probably Rage of Poseidon and Leda and the Swan, but the final (one-page) story – Jesus and Aphrodite – was hilarious, and Nilsen’s art style really suited the story and subject matter. Altogether, a humourous but thought-provoking take on religion, old and new(/current).5 starsBryan Lee O'Malley//SecondsSeconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. A standalone comic about a woman who stumbles across a way to erase her past mistakes, and goes a little crazy trying to make her life perfect, with increasingly disastrous results. The art was beautiful, and I really loved O’Malley’s writing style (this book has several particularly funny “dialogues” between the narrator and the main character, Katie). The story was both humourous and touching, and the characters (especially Hazel!) were great!5 starsJohn Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson//Let It SnowLet It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green & Lauren Myracle. A set of three interconnected short Christmas romances, and a really enjoyable, uplifting read. I started reading this book on Christmas Eve, and it really got me into the right mindset for Christmas! 😀 Of the three stories, I think I liked Lauren Myracle’s the best, but mainly because it was the last, and I really loved the way she managed to weave the three stories together at the end. Super-cute!5 stars

Hong Kong, Here I Come! – Reading While Travelling

I’m heading off to stay with Chloë in Hong Kong tomorrow, which is incredibly exciting, but I’ve spent a considerable amount of time today agonising over which books I should take with me. So I thought I’d write a blog about it!

Of course, the flight from London to Hong Kong will take about 13 hours, and I’ll have to travel for a while on each side as well – and, since I’m one of those people who can’t sleep unless I’m in my pyjamas and lying down, I’ll be needing quite a bit of material. I also don’t like to travel with physical books, since that’s one of the easiest ways to lose or damage them. So I’ve got my kindle charged up and ready to go.

Unfortunately, though, most of the books I want to read at the moment are ones that I own physical copies of. I’m currently in the middle of reading the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, and my initial hope was that I would be able to finish it off today, so I could start the trip off with something fresh, but since I’m only a couple of chapters into Unravel Me (the second book), I very much doubt that that’s going to happen. I could take the rest of the series with me, along with my kindle, but two large books plus a novella bind-up wedged in my backpack? … :/ Maybe not such a great idea.

Last time I went to China, my choice was pretty easy. I was already halfway through The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (on my kindle), and I figured I’d need something cheerful to read afterwards, so I followed it up with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. On the way back, I decided to start on the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher, which wasn’t such a great idea – I love the slow-build in high fantasy books, but it usually takes me a while to get really into a new world, and I ended up just making myself grumpy by trying to force myself to read it in one sitting…

So my (very, very) tentative TBR for this trip:

1) Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. A slow-paced book, but since it’s the third in a series, and I’m already invested in the characters and storyline, I should be able to avoid the situation I put myself in with the Codex Alera books.

2) Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry. I’ve been excited about reading this for a while (and it actually was only released on Monday!), and I’m thinking that it’ll be good to read it towards the end of the journey, since I know from experience that Katie McGarry’s books are difficult to put down.

3) Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons. This one is very, very long, so I at least know that it’ll take me a while. I’ve been wanting to read it since I finished The Bronze Horseman, so I’m sure that I’ll enjoy it, but my worry is that it will be too emotionally draining to read in one sitting, so I might start off with this one, and then read the other two books when I need a break.

… Or, who knows, I might decide to read something else entirely. 😉

Upcoming Releases: Winter 2014-15

My last Upcoming Releases post was rather long-winded, and didn’t have much in the way of solid dates… so I thought I’d make this a quarterly thing – this one will cover December 2014 – February 2015. One of the books being released this winter I’ve already mentioned, but all the others are sparkly new things to get excited about. What books are you most looking forward to this winter? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

[NB: All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 27/11/2014.]

Katie McGarry//Breaking the RulesBreaking the Rules by Katie McGarry (8th December)

This is the fifth and (probably) final book in the Pushing the Limits series, which is made up of companion novels, instead of forming an overarching storyline. Chronologically, this book will be set between the first two books in the series (around the same time as the novella, Crossing the Line), but instead of focusing on a new couple, as most of the books in the series have, we’ll be returning to Noah and Echo, the main protagonists from Pushing the Limits, which I’m personally really excited about. Noah and Echo remain my favourite couple in the series, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in a more settled relationship.

Neil Gaiman//Hansel & GretelHansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman (11th December)

I think this may actually be out in some places already, since Goodreads lists an October release date, but in any case, I haven’t seen it in shops yet. This is a retelling of the classic fairytale of the same name, and I don’t know that there’s going to be any particular new spin on the story, but Neil Gaiman’s haunting writing should make this book wonderfully atmospheric. It’s also illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti, and I’m not familiar with his work, but if the cover’s any indication, it’ll be a perfect fit. Fans of The Sleeper and the Spindle (released earlier this year) will probably want a copy of Hansel & Gretel.

Marissa Meyer//FairestFairest by Marissa Meyer (27th January)

Probably my most-anticipated of the books in this post, though it’s only a novella… Fairest is set in the Lunar Chronicles universe, and is essentially an origin story for Levana, the cruel Lunar queen. It is, I suspect, based on the tale of Snow White, and my hope is that it will tell us more about the relationship between Levana and her stepdaughter Winter. It’s a little disappointing that we’re not getting the final Lunar Chronicles book for a while, but hopefully Fairest will help to fill that hole while we wait for Winter.

Francesca Haig//The Fire SermonThe Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (26th February)

This is the first book in a new dystopian, post-apocalyptic series, set in a world where all humans are twins – one physically perfect Alpha, and one mutated Omega – who are separated into camps by society. Some of the reviewers I follow have already received ARCs of this book, which makes me incredibly jealous, and all the reviews I’ve seen so far have had very good things to say.

Upcoming releases of 2014

A lot of great books have already been released this year, but here’s a few more that I’m really excited for (mostly new entries in series’ I’ve been following…). October in particular looks like it’s going to be an exciting month!

[NB: All the release dates I’ve given here are accurate as of 29/08/2014, according to the following wesites: amazon.co.uk, tamorapierce.com and katielmcgarry.com.]

Garth Nix//Clariel

& the cover matches the other books I have in the series! I especially love that the background is made up of tiny charter marks…

Clariel by Garth Nix (2nd October)

The long-awaited final (kind of) book in the Old Kingdom trilogy (which is, I suppose, technically not a trilogy any more). And when I say long-awaited, I really mean it: I’ve been wanting more of this universe since Abhorsen was first released about 10 years ago…

This is apparently a prequel to the series – a concept that’s grown on me, even though I was initially hoping it would be a next-generation type thing – & since the main character is one of the Clayr (a society of respected seers living in the Old Kingdom), I’m hoping that Clariel will be Lirael’s mother… but even if it’s not, I’m still excited! Post-Sabriel, I was dubious about the introduction of new lead characters in the second book, but I actually ended up loving Lirael even more than Sabriel, so I have faith in Garth Nix’s ability to make me love new characters.

17378508Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (3rd October)

The third book of the Raven Cycle (also called the Raven Boys quartet). I also don’t know much about this book, but the first two books were so, so amazing, so I have high hopes for this one. This should basically be the continuing adventures of Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah (all of whom I love. The plot & writing for this series is great, but I think the characters are what sold me on it). Also, I have no idea why, but I really love the title of this book.

 

Rick Riordan//Blood of Olympus

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (7th October)

The final book in the Heroes of Olympus series. Need I say more? I actually like this series even better than the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, even though I didn’t initially like all the new characters so much (Piper kind of annoyed me in The Lost Hero, and I thought Jason was a little bland and their relationship rather forced, but they’ve both grown on me since). Also, this series just keeps getting better as it goes on, so my expectations for The Blood of Olympus are pretty high.

What I want from this book: 1) Awesomeness , 2) More awesomeness, 3) For it to never, ever end, and 4) Nico-POV. That last one? I convinced myself it was going to happen in The House of Hades (book 4), and then it didn’t, so I don’t want to get my hopes up too much (& yet, I really feel like it might happen this time…).

Patrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent Things

I really love the UK covers for this series… So pretty!

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (28th October)

This is a novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe, from the perspective of Auri, the girl who Kvothe discovered living in the tunnels beneath the University in The Name of the Wind. I don’t really know much about this book, but Patrick Rothfuss’ writing is amazing, & I really love the world he created in The Kingkiller Chronicle, so I’m looking forward to it anyway. And Auri’s a pretty mysterious character, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about her. I’m hoping that there’ll be lots of backstory.

 

The Gift of Power by Tamora Pierce (sometime this autumn)

The first in a new Tortall-universe series (series!) called Exile, which follows Numair Salmalin (first introduced in the Immortals quartet) as a student in Carthak, and the origins of his feud with Emperor Ozorne. Obviously (and sadly), there will be no Daine in this book, but it’ll definitely be interesting to read about Numair before he met her, and according to goodreads, we’ll be getting at least two books in this series!

Some issues: I’m not entirely sure how often Tamora Pierce’s website is actually updated, but the release date listed there is “Fall 2014” (however, it also just lists one book, & refers to it as Exile, rather than The Gift of Power). Goodreads has The Gift of Power specifically listed for release sometime in 2015, so I might be waiting for this book a while. Also, if you’re interested in reading or buying this book (and you live in the UK), you should note that Tamora Pierce’s books are no longer being published in the UK (which sucks), so you’ll have to get an imported copy online.

Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry (30th December in the US / 1st January in the UK)

The (probably) final book in the Pushing the Limits series, which is set between books 1 & 2 (around the same time as the novella, Crossing the Line), and brings us back to Noah and Echo, the main characters from the first book in the series, as they spend the summer holidays together and try to figure out if their relationship will last (my guess is, it will 😉 ). I haven’t read the sample chapter on goodreads, because I don’t want to be annoyed by the fact that I can’t read the rest until the end of the year, but if you’d like to check it out, then you can find it here.

This series has been a little hit-and-miss with me: I really loved Pushing the Limits (book 1) and Crash Into You (book 3), but Dare You To, Take Me On (books 2 & 4, respectively) and the spin-off novella were a little lackluster. That said, I really hope that Katie McGarry will write more of this series. It’d be really great to get a book following Abby and Logan, or even an Ethan book (though I’m not entirely sold on the idea of Ethan and Abby that some fans have been talking about…).

What books are you guys excited for this year? Let me know in the comments!