Monday, December 15, 2014

TBR: Releases to Watch for!

Hello, everyone! I recently realized that I've been reading a bunch of titles that I ought not to review SO SO SO far in advance of their release dates, but if no one talks about them, how are people supposed to keep an eye out for these awesome books??? So, below the cut, you'll find me pre-release and pre-review squeeing about: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (03/2015), Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (02/2015), Magonia by Maria Headley (04/2015), Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (05/2015), and Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (05/2015).

The Winner's Crime - Marie Rutkoski | Goodreads
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Published by: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Goodreads thoughts: "Wow. Those who wanted more scheming, more of the strategy over romance will be pleased. Another stunner. My review won't come till February."

That's not much of an explanation, is it? I'm pretty sure that I compared Rutkoski's writing style to Cashore's for The Winner's Curse, but I was even more struck by a Cashore comparison with this book. I was reminded of Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. If you like that book, I think that you'll like The Winner's Crime. If you wanted less romance and more of the political struggle from The Winner's Curse, I think that you'll like The Winner's Crime better. The romance is not as present in this book, but the romantic scenes are... WOW. Tension ridden, high stakes all around. The political intrigue, strategy, and world-building are amplified and come full circle. I mentioned the Bitterblue for this reason and also because Bitterblue involves a lot of codes and scheming in its mystery plotline (running alongside the coming-of-age). There's a central mystery to the political intrigue in The Winner's Crime plot (also running alongside the coming-of-age), and that's what I think will appeal most to Cashore fans.

Basically, mark your calendars. Find time to read this book.

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard | Goodreads
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Published by: HarperTeen

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

Goodreads thoughts: "This was definitely entertaining. Picture of a mash of these elements:

-the magical system of Shatter Me
-the plotting, romance, and tension of the Grisha/King's Army (vs. Silver/Red) of Shadow and Bone
-the balls and girl-on-girl drama of The Selection
-the large character cast & expectation of betrayal (over power and politics) in a YA Game of Thrones
++Aveyard's own world-building & various country dynamics

I don't think Graceling meets the Selection was an accurate comparison, but pitching to fans of Divergent and the Hunger Games, particularly the latter, might work a bit since you do get the sense that the Silver world is a little like the Capitol and there is an arena for fighting (with paranormal powers). It's also obvious why this one was optioned for film."

Of all the comparisons I made above, I was reminded most of Shadow and Bone. If you like that book, I think that you'll have a decent chance of liking Red Queen.

Magonia - Maria Headley | Goodreads
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Published by: HarperCollins

Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman's Stardust meets John Green'sThe Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.

Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who's always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza's hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Goodreads thoughts: "I think that I had too high of expectations. I saw a review claim that this is the most original book that I will read of 2014/2015, and that is way too high a claim to meet. I haven't read anything by Neil Gaiman yet, but there is a lot of self-deprecating (and quirky) humor and the very sick storyline a la The Fault in Our Stars (re: the comparison in the summary/blurb), so that at least rings true."

Here's what I didn't mention in that blurb: I was stuck in an airport while reading this and no doubt my unhappiness at that leaked into my reading experience. That aside, Magonia has an original world. It's based off a French Medieval myth about sky sailors. It's a really awesome world to get to picture, full of song and sky pirates and sky creatures like sky sharks, all of which would make for a rather cinematic movie should this book be optioned (I wonder if it already is...). That paired with lyrical, easy to read writing? It's easy to see why this book is getting a lot of attention. The plotting reminded me a bit of The Mortal Instruments and other urban fantasy novels too, so you can picture those written in a more lyrical style and with quirkier characters and self-deprecating humor.

Crimson Bound - Rosamund Hodge | Goodreads
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Published by: Balzer + Bray

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

(This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.)

Goodreads thoughts: "Hmmm, not sure why I liked this less than Cruel Beauty, especially since it has a lot of the same elements (but redrawn enough to feel fresh). I have to think on this. Also, Rosamund Hodge astounds me with her talent at creating complex characters & character relationships... and some seriously cool plot twists.

FYI this one isn't based around Greek mythology but a 17th century France, Little Red Riding Hood meets The Girl with No Hands. (I didn't know the last one until I read the acknowledgements, which were also awesome because reading about the inspiration behind art is awesome). It reminded me of some vampire literature because there's a lot of talk about damnation. If you like the saint / Apparat element in Shadow and Bone; the romance dynamic in Cruel Beauty; the discussion of what makes a monster in Graceling or the half-dragon worries in Seraphina; the bodyguard-angel dynamic of damphirs-Moroi from Richelle Mead.... you'll find that and more in Hodge's intricate mythology. Probably my favorite part of her two novels so far is how layered they feel. Another talent to admire. I'll come back to this eventually." 

I figured out why I didn't like Crimson Bound as much as I liked Cruel Beauty and it has everything to do with personal taste. I personally don't like talk of damnation/serious/heavy religious inspired/vampire-like discussions and put that with the romantic interest? It's not that he's not well drawn - he is. Just that he didn't capture my attention in the same way as Ignifex, personality-wise (along with the damnation scope). So, altogether, still pre-ordering. Still have Rosamund Hodge on the auto-buy list. Still love her novels and still find them layered and full of complex characters even if I liked Cruel Beauty more.

Made You Up - Francesca Zappia | Goodreads
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Published by: Greenwillow

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Goodreads thoughts: "Disclaimer: I've known Chessie for three and a half years. Yes, I'm more likely to be biased about her novels, but I know her because we were in the same critique group. It's very easy for critique partners to "drop" one another simply because you don't mesh, your ideas on what a novel should be don't align, your writing styles are too different, etc.. Chessie and I have stayed friends because I admire her writing and we agree about a lot of novels. I've critiqued two of the three science fantasy manuscripts that I've read from Chessie and I've loved every one. Also, about me - the best compliment I've ever received was from a fellow neuroscience major who said that I was the most genuine person he had ever met. I don't say or do things without meaning them. If I didn't like Chessie's novel, I would probably pretend that I hadn't read it to avoid the awkwardness. So, personally, I think that my opinion is still fair for y'all to consider.

I LOVED THIS. Of all of Chessie's characters, Alex and Miles are my favorites. I'm definitely going to review this novel in full, but since May is so far away still, I'll leave a few preliminary thoughts:

-If you liked the suspense and plot twists of We Were Liars, you may like this. Both feature an unreliable narrator who's unsure of what is or isn't true about their worlds. While Cadence's story focuses more on one summer and what she's forgotten, Alex's battle with reality and delusion is daily. That is a constant throughout the novel, but there's also a subplot with mystery elements that I could see specifically appealing to those fans. Also you know how once you read We Were Liars, you wanted to go back and read it again to see how the author had planted all her clues? Similar effect here. Made You Up gets richer the more you think about it because of its layers and how effective and multi-dimensional Chessie's portrayal of Alex's schizophrenia is.

-If you like Stephanie Kuehn's novels, you may like this. You know how Kuehn writes "issue books" without them feeling like issue books? That's this too. (And the only reason I even use "issue book" in relation to this book is the emphasis on Alex being a paranoid schizophrenic and the description of the book as literary). Kuehn writes psychological thrillers from the perspectives of main characters with mental illnesses. Though this isn't a psychological thriller, there's still a bit of mind fuckery to go around. There's also a lot of sensitivity in how Alex and Miles (and others) are portrayed, which you also get from Kuehn. The research to portray mental illness in both authors's novels is obvious.

-None of this is to say that the mental illness isn't handled well in this book. NOT AT ALL. In fact, what I liked most about this book is how ordinary both Alex and Miles feel. We talked about this briefly in our long ago interview- YA tropes (re: mental illness) often involve the mental illness "used as the catalyst for a thriller plotline; the idea that medication or therapy for these illnesses is bad and should be tossed out to regain some sense of self; mental illness leading to the use of drugs and alcohol and similar behavior*; or the idea that the mentally ill character is 'broken' and needs to be 'fixed.'" Alex is full of hope. She wants to go to college. She wants to live a normal life, and her struggles with schizophrenia are peripheral to that hope. Miles lives his life without focusing on his emotional problems. (You could probably even compare the way Miles reads to the way Cath from Fangirl does). They're both amazing neuroatypical characters with struggles that feel authentic to their character and not just a characteristic of mental illness.

-This also reminded me of the pranks and fun in Paper Towns and The Breakfast Club. This book is funny. I've always loved Chessie's characterizations, but the jokes in here are great too.

I'm with Alex. Let's free all the lobsters." (Note: I haven't read or seen anything by Wes Anderson or read Silver Linings Playbook and Liar, so I don't know how those comparisons align).

So what do you think? Will you be looking out for any of these titles? Have you read any of them?


  1. out of these i'm most interested in made you up!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  2. woo i'm really excited about the winner's crime! the cover for 'made you up' is beautiful!!

  3. I loved Bitterblue, so I'm happy with that comparison with The winner's crime! And yes to more political struggle :D I LOVED Red Queen and I also got a bit of a Hunger Games vibe. I'm very interested in Magonia and I can't wait to read my Edelweiss copy. Sky pirates and creatures, I'm all in. I'm excited for Crimson Bound. It's a shame you didn't enjoy it as much as Cruel Beauty, but I have high hopes she's going to dazzle me again.

  4. Yay, Juhina! I hope you enjoy Made You Up!

  5. It's beautiful and metaphorically significant to the book :D. I hope you'll get excited about Made You Up toooooooo. (Also ha, I take it then that you liked The Winner's Curse? And you didn't skim it this time?).

  6. Yeah! The Winner's Curse reminded me of a Cashore novel in a vague way, like the writing being tight and full of layers. The Winner's Crime reminded me much more of the intrigue and plotting and inner female mental strength from Bitterblue. I hope you enjoy it :). Let me know what you think of Magonia! Crimson Bound is still really, really good - so I hope Hodge dazzles you again too :)

  7. I have to admit that the more I look at Made You Up, the more excited I feel about that book. Just, everyone EVERYTHING screams *read me*.

  8. :D :D I hope you enjoy it Lyn! I definitely read it more than once and actually highlighted several passages that I have considered adding on Goodreads as quotes, despite having never done that before...


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