The Grisha Trilogy: Ruin and Rising

“Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what’s inside you? That’s steel. It’s brave and unbreakable. And it doesn’t need fixing.”

Title: Ruin and Rising

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha Trilogy # 3

Publication: June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 422

Source: Christmas bookhaul

 

Summary from Goodreads:

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

My Thoughts:

Ruin and Rising in one word: painful. This book was brilliant. It was a flawless example of the perfect ending to an amazing series – no matter how much it tore my heart out in the process. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Leigh Bardugo is a goddess and a master at crafting breathtakingly beautiful tales that transport you to a whole new universe. Just wow… truly. I cannot find the words to accurately express just how in love with this series I have become.

“I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but mine.”

Because I can, here is a quick play by play of my reactions to this book.

At the beginning (AKA time with The Apparat):

Reappearance of Nikolai:

Genya vs. The King:

Firebird discovery:

THAT scene with Mal when at the orchard:

Certain point in the battle against The Darkling:

 

By the end:

“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”

In all honesty, that about covers it. But, in this case a picture is not worth a thousand words. Ruin and Rising is so much more than I could ever hope to convey to you guys – it was a gem, a diamond in the rough as it were (especially when compared to other series conclusions). This book was a no-nonesense, nitty-gritty final show down between light and darkness illustrated through the lives of a cast of characters I have come to love. There is no sugar coating, no “atta boy” or congratulations. It is dark, dirty, and raw. It gives and it takes. Despite the optimism at the end, this is in no way a happy ending.

“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay.”

Ruin and Rising tackles the difficult battle of balancing the intimate exploration of relationships with the hardships and trials of war. There is a delicate beauty in the way things are handled and taken care of throughout the plot – relationships are shattered and new ones forged, people face their fears head on and others tuck tail and run. It was an amazing balancing act, and Bardugo tackled it with awe inspiring ease.

“It’s a vow that if I can’t be anything else to you, at least I can be a weapon in your hand.”

There is never a dull moment in this book – even at the beginning. There might be a lull in the obvious action, but just like with Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising waged a battle of wits as well as showcased a brutal fight to the death. There are ups and downs, happiness and grief – it’s all there.

Ruin and Rising was a beautifully bittersweet conclusion to a fabulous trilogy that will forever be on my recommended list. The Grisha Trilogy is all things – it is everything I ever wanted in a series and more. My love for these books is infinite and I will never forget them. If you haven’t read these yet, I suggest you do because they are just that awesome. Leigh Bardugo, thank you for creating something so beautiful and sharing it with the world.

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Waiting on Wednesday # 16

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted each week by Breaking the Spine and lets us spotlight a book that we are eagerly waiting to be released.

This weeks Waiting On Wednesday is Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan!

Publication: January 19th 2016 by HarperTeen

Summary from Goodreads:

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

This sounds like Red Queen and An Ember in the Ashes‘ love child. Where do I sign up?

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Teaser Tuesday # 16

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This weeks Teaser Tuesday is for Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo!

“I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but mine.”

“Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what’s inside you? That’s steel. It’s brave and unbreakable. And it doesn’t need fixing.”

“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay.”

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The Grisha Trilogy: Siege and Storm

“Weakness is a guise. Wear it when they need to know you’re human, but never when you feel it.”

Title: Siege and Storm

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha Trilogy # 2

Publication: June 4th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 430

Source: Christmas bookhaul

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

 

My Thoughts:

Siege and Storm is a serious emotional whirlwind. It kicks off with a bang, drags you through resulting shenanigans kicking and screaming, and then leaves you gasping for breath after knocking the wind out of you. This book gets down into the nitty gritty of the inner workings of royalty and war – and it pulls it off with a golden, shimmering flourish.

“You two have a bad habit of acting like fools and calling it heroic.”

This book starts off weeks after the events of Siege and Storm, Mal and Alina have had some breathing room and a little time to readjust – despite the fact that they are still being vigorously hunted by The Darkling, his guards, and wayward Grisha. It doesn’t take long for their fragile illusion of safety and freedom to shatter and they soon find themselves in an even worse situation than before. And boy, let me tell you, Siege and Storm is one hell of a situation. The plot is action packed – though it can come off as a little bit slow unless you enjoy intellectual struggles like myself. Not only is this book a thrill ride of unmentionable proportions, it also weighs heavy themes with a gentle loving care that is pure evil genius. This book will make you feel all the feels and it is sooo going to hurt when you wake up in the morning.

Siege and Storm is much more structured when it comes to the contents. Well, maybe structured isn’t the right word here – it’s mature. Shadow and Bone is childsplay compared to this book – but that isn’t a bad thing. Shadow and Bone was testing the waters, putting the feelers out as it were – and Siege and Storm grabs you by the throat and flings you all around the room while laughing maniacally at your suffering. Wait, or is it the amazing sorceress Leigh Bardugo that rips your soul out? Either way, this is one of those rare cases where a sequel blows its predecessor out of the water while inconspicuously whistling. You don’t see anything coming, and trust me, Siege and Storm packs a serious punch.

“Vasily laughed. “I can’t decide if you’re a fearmonger or a coward.”

“And I can’t decide if you’re an idiot or an idiot.”

Aside from the amazing plot that I wish to continuously gush over, there are even more amazingly complex and wonderful characters thrown into the mixing pot of glorious people from Shadow and Bone. Nikolai… oh my precious, he is everything I never knew I needed and more. I have a serious soft spot for the sardonic, not so trust worthy ally that is Nikolai – a man of many names and nicknames which I shall not mention because: spoiler! Nikolai certainly knows how to make an entrance and then steal your heart away with the first words out of his mouth. Scootch your evil, attractive butt over Mr. Darkling – Nikolai is here to stay.

“I have loved you all my life, Mal,” I whispered through my tears. “There is no end to our story.”

On top of the amazingness that is Nikolai, we have lots of old faces going through torturous new trials. Alina and Mal… YOU’RE KILLING ME, SMALLS! Oh my gosh, I wanted to rip my hair out because of these two. Their relationship is so painful and yet I ship it so hard. The two of them together is a ticking time bomb so huge that when it explodes it’s going to make Yellow Stone look like an amateur. I do have to say, though, despite the relationship woes that will now plague me in my sleep, the growth – both good and bad (don’t ask unless you want all your hopes and dreams crushed) is astounding in its abundance. Alina is no longer the shell shocked, struggling to play along girl from book one. No, she is a badass ruler coming into her own power and she hates every second of it because it is destroying her. I love that about her, I really do. She feels real guilt, she isn’t blinded by her purpose to the point of disregarding the feelings of others as we so often see sugar coated in other novels. She feels their pain in a way that will make your eyes water like it’s allergy season – but the heartbreaking thing is her depth of understanding of her own hand in their suffering. It’s just cruel.

“He tapped the sun over his heart. “I came here for you. You’re my flag. You’re my nation.”

Siege and Storm could do no wrong by me. This book was pure perfection and it completely devoured every waking moment I could get with it. It is action packed, gut-wrenchingly painful, and a glorious stage for the conclusion to an amazing series. This is no filler story – this is an adventure within itself and it will never let you forget. This book will leave you shattered, breathless, and devoid of hope in the best possible way you can imagine. These books are something you truly have to experience for yourself in order to understand the remarkable craftsmanship that goes into these delicately weaving plots. Leigh Bardugo is an evil mastermind clearly hell bent on destroying my life, and I welcome her efforts with open arms. I cannot wait to see how this all comes to an end, I hope it’s a giant fire ball.

“I don’t care if you think I’m a Saint or a fool or the Darkling’s whore. If you want to remain at the Little Palace you will follow me. And if you don’t like it, you will be gone by tonight, or I will have you in chains. I am a solider. I am the Sun Summoners. And I’m the only chance you have.”

 

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The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone

“I’m sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha # 1
Publication: June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pages: 368
Source: Christmas bookhaul
Summary from Goodreads:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

My Thoughts:
My heart hurts right now. Goodness… I can’t even comprehend half of the feelings soaring through my chest. I am ecstatic, I am destroyed, I am everything and yet I still want more. Shadow and Bone is a book I have wanted to read for a while and that want increased ten-fold after reading the amazing Six of Crows this past year. I have to tell you – I have just found a revolutionary fantasy novel that took every single expectation I had and blew them out the window with a golden burst of sunlight. This book is everything, this series is going to be everything I think I’ve ever wanted. I cannot remember the last time I rooted so hard for the bad guy before in my life. With a startlingly rich world, a heartbreaking story line, and characters that will make you feel all the feels, Shadow and Bone  a phenomenal work of art.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
All the feels! Ugh… I swear, this book has completely changed the way I feel about certain things and I can’t tell if it’s okay or not. First of all, the world. Oh my goodness, the world of Ravka is a carefully crafted masterpiece pulling inspiration from Russia and IT. IS. FAN-FREAKEN-TASTIC. The world is so complex and well thought out. Each and every little detail is apparent actually means something. There is so much that goes on in the world alone. The development of the Grisha orders and their powers, the way they are designated, all of it. Each and every piece was handled masterfully and it was such a treat to finally read a fantasy novel where the world is totally solid. I was never confused about what was happening, things are sort of self explanatory. The world alone was flawlessly executed and one of the best creations I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
“And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”
The characters… they are perfection. Honestly, this entire book is perfection – but the characters are just the icing on a really, really delicious cake. Alina Starkov, our protagonist, is not the normal Young Adult protagonist. She is her own worst enemy throughout most of the novel – not outstanding circumstances. She basically hates herself. She hates the way she looks, she hates how she cannot control what she is, she hates how she was forced to leave the army and become a Grisha. It was quite the breath of fresh air if you ask me. I mean, she had her faults and what not  – I was extremely annoyed when she just took off and ran without trying to figure things out on her own even though she was right in the end (You know what I’m talking about).  I guess, what I am trying to say is that I love Alina because she is not exceptional save for her power – which she pretty much loathes for a majority of the book. She is not physically strong, she is not a badass or extremely smart – she just is. BUT, she is emotionally strong. She lives through hell and back and she just keeps on trucken. That’s strength.
“This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.”
The Darkling. HOLY FREAKEN CRAP. Ugh. The Darkling is so many things all at once and it hurts so badly to even think about it. The Darkling is good, The Darkling is evil, The Darkling is simply The Darkling and holy hot damn. He is terrifying, swoon worthy, and I hate to love him while loving to hate him. Or is that switched? I don’t know anymore. He is sort of the big wig, the second most powerful man in Ravka save for the king and he is the one who controls all Grisha. He is one giant enigma that will leave you breathlessly panting for more while simultaneously wanting to strangle him.
“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”
Mal… just, D’Awwww…. Mal is Alina’s best friend since childhood and he has slowly become even more to her than that. He is Alina’s everything. He is what she thinks about when she is gone, he is what drives her to be better – and visa versa.  He is the kind of character that grows on you, the longer you are around him the more you begin to love him. He is a special kind of character – and I love it. I think my favorite part of his character, besides the obvious, is the fact that Alina has to go through an entire emotional revolution before figuring out just how much she loves him. There is no insta love. This is a slow burning love born over years, and years, and years. It was beautiful.
“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”
Leigh Bardugo is a goddess composed of pure literary genius. The plot of this book, while holding general Young Adult undertones, is so superbly executed and full of layers upon layers of amazingness that it will blow your brain straight through your skull. The book is unique, the writing is unique, the world is so unique it might a well be a completely new standard of world building. I guess that is the point I am trying to make here, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone has just raised the bar for each and every fantasy book that follows without so much as blinking an eye. It was all so flawless and seemingly effortless, despite the fact that I know and understand just how much work goes into something as complex as this. Leigh Bardugo, thank you. Simply thank you.
Overall, Shadow and Bone is one hell of a book that deserves to be placed on every shelf in existence. This is a must read for fantasy lovers and book lovers alike. It is chalked full of action, romance, personal struggles, and an intricately beautiful plot that will haunt you for years to come. Bardugo has created a masterpiece which I have fallen helplessly in love with and I hope you will too.

Zero Day

“She was merely dressed up for a show, scripted into the scene by President Webster’s staff. A supporting role in the grand drama that was Mark Webster’s life.

All Addie had to do was play her part.

Just as the president played his.”

Title: Zero Day

Author: Jan Gangsei

Series: Standalone

Publication: January 12th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 368

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious.

When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn’t know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. Will she choose to complete it? And what will happen if she does?

 

My Thoughts:

Well…. UGGHHHHH! I cannot fathom a way to tell you how disappointed I am right now. I wanted to like this book, I wanted to like it so much that I forced myself to suffer through a hundred pages before I allowed myself the mercy of giving up. Zero Day was such a mock up political thriller, clearly written with minimal research and knowledge on the subject at hand, that it was not worth the time of day. Reading this book was like poking my eyes out with needles while trying to do a mixture of every single mathematical thing I hate – in other words, it was self inflicted torture.

I shall let my favorite little precious babes, Sam and Dean Winchester (with a special appearance by an angel in a trench coat) , explain my disgust in a series of gifs scavenged from the depths of google because I cannot bring myself to give a damn about how much I hate this book. I am so done right now.

So, yea. That sort of puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it? Mix together amateur writing, too many nonessential and random narrators, a sketchy plot with so many plot holes it turned into swiss cheese, and less knowledge than a tadpole and what do you get? Zero Day by Jan Gangsei which I give zero damns about (I really want to say the F word but my family would probably kill me). Good day sir, and adios.

 

Coming Soon: January 2016

Happy New Year guys! A new year means new books and the amazing opportunity to start your 365 page novel over from scratch. Guess what? There are a crap ton of amazing books hitting the shelves during this new year, but for this post I’ll be focusing on those coming within reach during the month of January. Check out this list of eleven of my most anticipated new releases this month!

1. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

 

Summary:

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

January 5th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

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2. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Summary:

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

January 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire

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3. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Summary:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

January 5th 2016 by Tor Teen

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4. Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandiera

Summary:

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

January 12th 2016 by Spencer Hill Contemporary

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5. The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

January 5th 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

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6. Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Summary:

Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

January 12th 2016 by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

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7. Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Summary:

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

January 19th 2016 by HarperTeen

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8. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Summary:

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

January 26th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers

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9. Frontlines by Michael Grant

Summary:

Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name Verity, New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that reimagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines.

World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.

These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.

January 26th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books

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10. The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

Summary:

In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.

January 26th 2016 by Simon Pulse

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11. The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

Summary:

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.

When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of her father’s books to track down a woman she’s never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

Rebecca Podos’ debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us – the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.

January 26th 2016 by Balzer & Bray

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What books are you guys looking forward to this month? Are there any big ones that I missed?