Daniel Green is a member of a secret organization. He travels the country making crop circles. He loves making art in secret, art that leaves people talking and wondering what if. Daniel is no stranger to being alone, but when a Vermont farmer’s dying wish brings him to a small farming town, Daniel finds himself involved in much more than making crop circles, as the lives of the farmer’s family erupt in struggles.
I know basically nothing about crop circles. Is this secret organization who makes them at people’s covert request based on the truth? No idea. But it’s a very cool concept, so I bought into it for this novel. The setting was so well-done that I could see this small farming town—unsettling, considering towns that small make me want to break out into hives—and its residents clearly. I enjoyed this book very much!
Erica Boyce is a member of the Massachusetts bar and an editor. The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Annika Rose prefers books and chess over people. She doesn’t understand people—and they don’t understand her. When she meets Jonathan, who’s new to the college and to chess club, she thinks he’ll be just like everyone else. But he’s not. He understands her. He wants to get to know her. And he loves her unconditionally.
Ten years later, Annika runs into Jonathan again. She wants to show him how much she’s changed, but Jonathan is wary after Annika broke his heart all those years ago—with no explanation. She wants to try again, but he isn’t sure he wants to risk his heart a second time.
This novel was an intriguing look inside the head of someone who thinks just a little differently, who sees the world in slightly different shades. Annika is a fascinating character, and her journey is compelling. I found myself rooting for her all the way.
Tracey Garvis Graves is a bestselling author. The Girl He Used to Know is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Today I am happy to be a part of the blog tour for Wicked Saints, by Emily A. Duncan, which hits stores today! I have a quick interview with the author, then a review of Wicked Saints, which you should definitely go read if you enjoy dark, atmospheric books with complex mythology and magic systems.
Q: Tell me a little bit about Wicked Saints.
A: Tired monastery girl who can talk to the gods! Anxious morally dubious blood mage boy! Exhausted traumatized prince! An assassination plan! A holy war! Eldritch gods! Lots and lots of blood!
Q: Where did your inspiration come for writing Wicked Saints?
A: Video games and metal music! Specifically, Skyrim in regards to the video games, but it was also fueled by my deep love for metal.
Q: What is your absolute favorite, read over-and-over again, book?
A: I mean, I’m very vocal about how much I love the Grisha trilogy, but to answer this slightly differently, the book I’ve reread the most is Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.
Nadya is a cleric who can commune with all the gods—unheard of—living in a remote monastery. Kalyazin has been at war with Tranavia for a long time, but the war has never touched the monastery. Until it does, in the form of Tranavian soldiers led by Serefin, High Prince and blood mage. As her friends die around her, Nadya escapes into the wilderness.
She meets Malachiasz, a defector with dark secrets that Nadya isn’t sure she can trust. But Nadya’s powers may be the only thing standing in the way of destruction, so she heads to the seat of Tranavian power, desperate to find a way to stop it. Serefin, used to drinking and fighting, has been called home by his father, but Serefin finds the king in the midst of a horrifying scheme to gain immortality and ultimate power.
Nadya, Serefin, and Malachiasz will have to trust each other if they have any hope of stopping the coming darkness.
Wicked Saints is dark and atmospheric, with a creepy and cold setting reminiscent of Russia. The magic systems are dark and bloody, and there aren’t a lot of happy feelings in this book. I was fascinated from the first page, although I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you’re depressed at the time. Treachery, hatred, lies, deceit…all run through the pages of this novel like blood, until you can’t see what’s coming next.
Emily A. Duncan is a youth services librarian. Wicked Saints is her new novel, the first in the Something Dark and Holy series.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Martha Storm volunteers at the library. She does projects for anyone who needs help—laundry for a neighbor with a broken appliance, repairing a paper mache dragon head for the school, altering school uniforms for her nephew— and she’s so busy she doesn’t have time to wonder what happened to her life.
Until she receives a mysterious book filled with stories from her childhood, stories she wrote, and dedicated to her by her grandmother, Zelda, who died suddenly years before. In the book, Martha finds a clue that her grandmother may still be alive, and she’s determined to unravel the family secrets once and for all. And maybe, along the way, she’ll discover the truth about herself she’s kept hidden.
Martha experiences tremendous growth as a person in this book. Who she is and what she thinks she knows is completely upended, and she becomes someone new, like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis into the sun. I was enthralled by the mystery of Zelda and what happened in the Storm family all those years ago.
Phaedra Patrick is a bestselling author who lives in the U.K. The Library of Lost and Found is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Park Row/Harlequin via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Jessie McBride moved back home to Glory Road ten years ago when her marriage failed. She lives with her 14-year-old daughter, Evan, and her aging mother, Gus, and they run a garden shop together. Jessie has given up on love and is content with her life, though she worries about her daughter, who’s about to enter high school, and her mother, who’s starting to forget things.
Then two men arrive on Glory Road: handsome Sumner Tate who asks her to do the flowers for his daughter’s wedding, and Ben Bradley, her best friend from high school who she never quite voiced her feelings for. Jessie loves the attention that Sumner gives her, but Ben is safety and security. Between her daughter, who’s interested in the new boy down the road, her mother’s health, and these two men, Jessie’s quiet life is in shambles.
This is the second Lauren K. Denton book I’ve read, and I have to say two things first off: her cover artist is amazing, and I love her writing. I do love Southern fiction as a whole (once I realized it was a thing), but she does it so well, making the setting live and breathe. Her characters are strong and struggling, imperfect and impossible not to love, and her writing is beautiful. Go read this.
Lauren K. Denton was born and raised in Alabama. Glory Road is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Abigail is just a girl when the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem—and the temple. Abigail is taken captive and finds herself serving four Hebrew boys destined to become powerful princes in Babylon, including the kind and caring Daniel. Abigail falls in love with Daniel, but the king’s machinations keep them apart, and soon Abigail finds herself lost in another city, with nowhere to turn.
Seventy years later, Daniel and Abigail have been married for years and have children and grandchildren when Daniel is once again called to serve the new king. Abigail’s family is full of anger and malice, but she’s kept secrets about her early years, secrets that might tear Daniel from her for good, and secrets that might have a chance of mending the rift in her family. But she will have to overcome her fear with faith if she’s ever to know true fulfillment.
Of Fire and Lions is a richly imagined tale that brings Biblical stories to life. Daniel and the lions’ dent. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. The exile of the Hebrews. These things come to mesmerizing life on the page. And Abigail—Belili—and Daniel come to life as well: their struggles, their trials, and their faith drawing the reader in. This is an exceptionally detailed and vivid re-telling of some familiar Bible tales, but with so much life added to the story.
Mesu Andrews writes biblical fiction. Of Fire and Lions is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of WaterBrook via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
In the 1960s, four women discover time travel. After testing their machine out, one of them has a nervous breakdown on live TV, and her three friends dissociate themselves from her in order to save their own careers, blaming her episode on mental illness.
Fifty years later, her granddaughter knows Bee was involved with time travel, but they never speak of it. Until she receives a newspaper clipping from the future reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady. A year later, the death has happened, and no one knows how. Or why. But the girl who found the body is determined to do whatever it takes to find out.
I had a hard time keeping track of the various characters in their respective timelines/ages. If a character in 2018 can go back in time and speak with her now-deceased father (or herself in that earlier time) and not change anything…it seems like time travel is a concept with no repercussions or cost, and I just can’t make that work in my mind. (I’m aware of the irony that I can allow time travel…just not time travel with no repercussions.) Solid writing, but the concepts and time-jumping just didn’t work for me.
Kate Mascarenhas is a writer and psychologist. The Psychology of Time Travel is her new novel.
(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
In an alternate Italy, Elsa can create new worlds by writing in books. Special writing. Special books. Special talent…and one that puts her in danger when political extremists steal a book that can change the very nature of the world itself.
In the wake of a horrific betrayal, Elsa has one goal: track down the book before the extremists can use it to wreak havoc. Getting revenge on her betrayer will be just a bonus. But Elsa doesn’t realize the secrets she’ll encounter along the way, some of which she’s even kept from herself.
I love steampunk, but I don’t actively seek it out—I don’t know why. I have not read the first book in this duology, Ink, Iron, and Glass, but I highly recommend doing that, as I spent the first third of the book being highly confused. I ended up loving the world and its nuances: differences from our own, but some similarities, too. There’s a lot of action here, and a bit of romance, but it’s all woven together seamlessly. I like the intrigue with Casa as well.
Gwendolyn Clare is a scientist and a writer. Mist, Metal, and Ash is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Imprint/Macmillan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Five friends. An absentee father who’s a billionaire. One nefarious plot.
Nari is a genius digital hacker. Keagan is her sweet boyfriend who would follow her anywhere. Reese is a visual artist who dreams of traveling everywhere. San is headed to Stanford on a diving scholarship and wants to go to the Olympics. And Bellamy is a physics genius who gets into MIT—then finds out the father she’s never seen is a billionaire, destroying her hopes of financial aid.
Nari’s not going to let her best friend’s dreams be destroyed by some jerk who wants nothing to do with her, so she comes up with a plan: hack into Bellamy’s dad’s computer empire and plant a code that skims enough money off millions of transactions to pay for Bellamy’s first year of college.
What could possibly go wrong?
This group of characters was fascinating. A group of individuals who form a fantastic team with an unbreakable friendship. I did not entirely care for Nari, who was very bossy and demanding (autocratic comes to mind), but I loved the rest—especially Reese and her vibrant hair. The relationships were complex and believable, and Keagan was my favorite character: he’s the voice of reason, as well as being the lone “ordinary” soul in the group. Definitely a good read.
Lillian Clark grew up in Wyoming and now lives in Idaho. Immoral Code is her debut novel.
(Galley courtesy of Random House Children’s/Knop Books for Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column in 1887 Paris. It’s her job to tell about each day’s new arrivals to the morgue, which the citizens of Paris are fascinated with. It’s morbid, but it’s just a job, until the day Nathalie sees a vision of the murder of the body before her…from the perspective of the murderer.
When the body of another woman is found a few days later, all of Paris is talking about it—and speculating it won’t be the last. Nathalie’s visions may be the only way to help find the killer, but can she figure out who the murderer is before her own life is forfeit?
This wasn’t a bad read. The premise is unique, but I found it a little erratic. Sometimes, Nathalie seemed very childish and naïve—who wanders around a busy city alone when they are the target of a serial killer? And who would go into the Parisian Catacombs like that, especially? I liked the concept, but the execution could use a little bit of polishing.
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MA degrees in European History, and an MBA. Spectacle is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Tor Teen via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)