October Reading Wrap Up

Welp, Halloween is over and all I’m left with is this pumpkin cheesecake. I take comfort in that. Well, also in the 12 books I read. Almost all of them anyway.

The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling picks up where the Ex Hex left off, this time the focus is on Gwyn Jones and Wells Penhallow. It was a wonderful follow-up and I couldn’t have been happier to have been in the world of Graves Glen again. What a great sequel. If you like the Ex Hex, you will love this!

Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher is the first book at the start of a brand new supernatural romance series about werewolves and witches. This one had to do with supernatural politics in a way I wasn’t expecting. Don’t worry, it’s still a rom-com. It was a fun read and I really enjoyed it.

Well Played by Jen DeLuca is the second entry in a series of rom-coms centering around a renaissance festival. I am enamored with the world the author has created and may have already finished the third book. I am also thankful there is a fourth book in the series coming out in December.

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper is another sequel (I usually have a hard time reading sequels, what is going on?) that takes place in a town called Thistle Grove where the magic is held by four families. This time a fellow witch is attacked and members of two rival families must team up to solve the caper! I loved it! Thistle Grove sounds like a fantastic tourist spot!

If you want to read a cozy fantasy graphic novel, The Tea Dragon Society series by K. O’Neill is the way to go. This middle-grade story is adorable and I read all three in one go! It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited so you can enjoy it there. And how cute are those dragons?

Now meet the books I wasn’t too crazy about.

I know people are loving it, but I just didn’t like Fairy Tale by Stephen King. His writing style and I just don’t get along. I may try this one again later, as so many of the ladies in my book club enjoyed this one.

How I Stole the Princess’s White Knight and Turned Him to Villany by AJ Sherwood was a choice. The wizard is very eccentric and the knight is very quick to just go along with everything the wizard says. It’s also absurdist comedy, which may be why they do that, but it wasn’t for me. I say that, but I read the whole thing.

Three Swedish Mountain Men by Lily Gold was a book I read. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I like my romance stories to have a plot, but this one was barely there. If why choose stories are up your alley, give it a shot. But nope. Not again!

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Maris was a book I was really into until the third plot twist happened in the first half of the book. It was just a few too many plot twists for me.

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean was just a wrong book wrong time kind of thing. I didn’t get very far into it, but I am determined to try again because the plot is about a family that eats books, and then here comes the kid who eats brains? Yes, I want to like that.

And that’s how my reading month went. How did yours go?

Sundays In Bed With…Legends & Lattes

So Sundays In Bed With… is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl. It’s an opportunity to share what book is by your bed (or by your current resting space) at the moment. I happened across this meme on Wicked Witch’s Blog. She’s almost done with her Blogtober posts so go give her a follow! She’s fantastic!

Also, I can’t believe we have made it to the end of October! What a crazy month it’s been. The weather has finally turned here and fall has actually arrived which means cooler temps, rainy days, and, unfortunately, headaches. The migraines have been making their presence felt this season. But, I have been able to walk to work a lot, which has been fabulous. The crisp fall air does wonders for my mental health and it also means I can listen to an audiobook for the short walk to work.

Speaking of audiobooks, my current listen is Legends and Lattes. I’ve been listening to this cozy fantasy everywhere I go, or don’t go. I’ve been listening to it while I prep for my next D&D session on the sofa. It seemed appropriate. I’m also thinking of switching to the paperback copy that I have, as I want to know what happens faster than the audiobook can get to it!!!

Here’s the blurb:

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success ― not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.

As a side note if you decide to read/listen to this the way the author, Travis Baldree, describes the food in this book is positively sinful. It makes me want to go raid a bakery every time I hear him describe something.

It’s Finally Fall Book Tag

It’s fall, y’all! That means it’s time for apple cider, comfy sweaters, and cozy blankets…if you live somewhere that isn’t Texas. We still do pumpkin patches and hayrides though!!!

I saw this book tag on Book Are 42 (I love that blog name) and she was tagged by someone else, but I couldn’t track down the originator of the tag. If anyone has the info, please let me know!

In fall, the air is crisp and clear | Name a book with a vivid setting!

The Ex Hex/ The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling

The world of Graves Glen is set in a whimsical small town full of colorful characters and I could not love this series more. Both books are excellent and the second story doesn’t suffer from the dreaded second book syndrome.

Nature is beautiful… but also dying | Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

This is a book about death. The story is about a man who dies and goes to “live” in a tea house in a small village with a reaper, a ferryman, and some ghosts, including a ghost dog!!! And yes, I cried, but in the best possible way.

Fall is back to school season | Share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

The Player’s Handbook by Wizards of the Coast

So I know the prompt was probably looking for something a little less esoteric, but this, while about a fantasy world, is a non-fiction book as it is a technical manual for a role-playing game. And I learned a lot. It did take me two months to read it, because dense, but I still read it!!!

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend time with the people we love | Name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

In Death Series by J.D. Robb

For all that they are surrounded by mayhem and murder, the bonds of family and friendship are incredibly strong within Eve and Roarke’s group. What makes it even more special is that while Roarke and Eve are bazillionaire’s, that’s not the reason the people in the group are friends with them, they like these two on their own merits. I’d like to be friends with these people.

The colorful leaves are piling up on the ground | Show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

Um…no? I just organized the shelf nearest to me a few days ago. I’m not messing that up…I’m picturing myself storming off like a petulant child who is being sent to their room. Baby Lauren would not be amused.

Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside | Share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King

So I’m not recommending this book as I’m still not sure how I feel about it (I’m not done with it yet) but it is told to you by the main character.

The nights are getting darker | Share a dark, creepy read.

A Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

This book very much creeped me out when I read it a few years ago. Just thinking about that scene with the rats…eww. But, it was very well written and made me want to read more by the author, which is saying a lot, as I don’t usually enjoy horror stories.

The days are getting colder | Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

Monk and Robot Series by Becky Chambers

I have heard this series referred to as hope punk, and I like it. I would also call it cozy sci-fi. It’s a series that isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, but it does so in a nice and gentle manner, you leave the stories not only questioning your life but wanting more in the series.

Fall returns every year | Name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon.

The Last Dragonlord by Joanne Bertin

I loved the first two books set in this series, and am always up for a re-read. It’s the story of Liden, a dragonlord (a being who is also part dragon), and his journey through political intrigue and a murder mystery at a human court. It’s a fun read and I would have loved to see more in this world.

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights | Share your favorite cozy reading accessories

A Cup of Tea

Does a cup of tea count? I can’t really read without one and during the cooler parts of the fall will go through several cups while I am reading. A particular fall favorite is by Harney and Sons, the Pumpkin Spice. It’s quite nice.

What a fun tag! I don’t ever tag anyone in these, because if you like a tag, you should give it a try! Let’s see what fun you can come up with!

I Missed A Few Months, Here’s a Book Haul

Howdy.

And as I am not a beloved toy cowboy, let me never say that again.

So in the few months I was away, I accumulated quite a few books. As a result, I thought you should be aware of a few of the things I picked up.

Ledge by Stacy McEwan

If you’ve been on BookTok you may have seen Stacy McEwan at some point. The Australian author started out self publishing this book and ended up selling it to a publisher thanks to overwhelming demand, helped out by her TikTok account. I loved watching her try to turn her husband into romance novel’s leading man. Twas hilarious.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

I’ve had this book on my want to buy list for a while now, and when I saw the paperback in my local bookstore, I had to snatch it up. It’s all about the parts of feminism that the movement tends to overlook. I’m hoping to learn a lot from this one.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and art by Wendy Xu

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this graphic novel about a witch and a werewolf. It also helps that it looks adorable. I also accidentally order the special edition…so that’s nice.

Babel by R.F. Kuang

Given my love for the Poppy War, a book series I have yet to finish, I had to pick this up. I have heard some mixed things about this book, which surprised me given all the early amazing buzz about the book. But that also means I’m probably going to like it.

The Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

I’m not gonna lie, I picked this one up for the Hubs. He likes books to have a little humor to it and I had heard this one had it’s moments. He’s read it already and his opinion pretty much matches the blurb on the cover. But in a good way?

In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu

This novella has some interesting ideas and, I’m just guessing here, a non-binary main character. The pronouns used in the description are very interesting. But it intrigued me and when I saw it at the used bookstore, I grabbed it up.

The Boy With the Bookstore by Sarah Echavarre Smith

I saw a TikTok about this book and knew immediately it was for me. A romance story about a bookshop owner and a baker? Yes please, I will take it. Here’s hoping it lives up to that TikTok. Also, I watch too much TikTok.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

What can I say, I bowed to peer pressure. No but seriously, I have two friends who spent days extolling this series’ virtues, so I figured I would at least give the first book a try.

Bet On It by Jodie Slaughter

Plus size rep and bingo playing. This rom com sounded so cute. I couldn’t resist it when I saw it in the store. Also, the cover is purple and purple is my favorite color…it was meant to be.

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

This is another one that was all over the internet, both BookTok and BookTube! It’s a regency fairy fantasy romance? Yeah, I think that’s it. I’ve also heard it’s on the cozy side, and I’m really enjoying the cozy books right now.

And that is just a small portion of the over 50+ books I’ve bough in the last several months. My TBR shelves overflow with the fruits of my many excursions. I should stop making excursions.

Also, can we take a moment to shout out the local used book store? I bought most of my recent acquisitions at Half Priced Books, and most of them were used copies. Thank you HPB!!!

A Witchy TBR

October is my favorite month. Well, one of them, it’s tied with December if I’m honest.

I decided to do a bewitching TBR this month. I have collected quite a few witchy Rom Coms over the last few months, and this is the perfect month to read them! I also have one that is not a romance…spooky.

The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling

Gwyn Jones is perfectly happy with her life in Graves Glen. She, her mom, and her cousin have formed a new and powerful coven; she’s running a successful witchcraft shop, Something Wicked; and she’s started mentoring some of the younger witches in town. As Halloween approaches, there’s only one problem—Llewellyn “Wells” Penhallow.

Wells has come to Graves Glen to re-establish his family’s connection to the town they founded as well as to make a new life for himself after years of being the dutiful son in Wales. When he opens up a shop of his own, Penhallow’s, just across the street from Something Wicked, he quickly learns he’s gotten more than he bargained for in going up against Gwyn.

When their professional competition leads to a very personal—and very hot—kiss, both Wells and Gwyn are determined to stay away from each other, convinced the kiss was just a magical fluke. But when a mysterious new coven of witches come to town and Gwyn’s powers begin fading, she and Wells must work together to figure out just what these new witches want and how to restore Gwyn’s magic before it’s too late.

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and—despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe—also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa’s nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right. 

But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year’s Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt—throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.

Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other… and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day.

Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher

Magic-less witch Violet Maxwell wants nothing to do with alpha wolf shifter Lincoln Thorne―the man who broke her fragile, teenage heart. But when the two of them are forced by arcane Supernatural Laws to find mates, Violet and Lincoln agree to fake-date their way to a fake-mating in order to conjure themselves some time.

The joke’s on them. When old feelings make a reappearance―along with Violet’s magic―they both realize there’s nothing fake about their feelings. But there are old secrets and looming threats that could snatch away their happily ever after, again. One thing’s for sure: magic doesn’t make dating and love any easier.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos “pretending” to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.
 
But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.
 
As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when peril comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….

Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck

Emerson Wilde has built the life of her dreams. Youngest Chamber of Commerce president in St. Cyprian history, successful indie bookstore owner, and lucky enough to have her best friends as found family? Done.

But when Emerson is attacked by creatures that shouldn’t be real, and kills them with what can only be called magic, Emerson finds that the past decade of her life has been…a lie. St. Cyprian isn’t your average Midwestern river town—it’s a haven for witches. When Emerson failed a power test years ago, she was stripped of her magical memories. Turns out, Emerson’s friends are all witches.

And so is she.

That’s not all, though: evil is lurking in the charming streets of St. Cyprian. Emerson will need to learn to control what’s inside of her, remember her magic, and deal with old, complicated feelings for her childhood friend–cranky-yet-gorgeous local farmer Jacob North—to defeat an enemy that hides in the rivers and shadows of everything she loves.

Even before she had magic, Emerson would have done anything for St. Cyprian, but now she’ll have to risk not just her livelihood…but her life.

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

Five octogenarian witches gather as an angry mob threatens to demolish Moonshyne Manor. All eyes turn to the witch in charge, Queenie, who confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments. Still, there’s hope, since the imminent return of Ruby—one of the sisterhood who’s been gone for thirty-three years—will surely be their salvation.

But the mob is only the start of their troubles. One man is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy he claims was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. Then things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle instead of the solution to all their problems.

The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but their aging powers are no match for increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline to save the manor approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon―like all other book eater women―is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger―not for books, but for human minds.

And that is my TBR for the month. And yes, it is ambitious for me, but I have already read three of them so I’m hoping I’ll be okay. What does your TBR look like?

Current Read: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Top Ten Dynamic Duos

Well hello, beautiful people! Pardon the lateness of my arrival with this post. I got a headache yesterday (It was seventy-five degrees!) and I still have a headache today (it’s thirty-five degrees!) because the Texas weather has gone nuts! We are also supposed to get freezing rain tomorrow! What! I can’t with this.

But despite all of that, the world still turns, and it’s Tuesday. It’s the two-est of Tuesdays! And that means it’s Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about Dynamic Duos. Interpret that as you will. It could be as duologies or pairings or friends or all of the above! I haven’t read very many duologies, so we won’t be focusing on that aspect of it, but friends and lovers? Heck yeah!

Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter by, well, you know.

For all I don’t like the author, the books are timeless. And Ron and Hermione are a big part of that. Watching their relationship grow over time in both the books and on-screen was quite fun. You were rooting for them since the first book.

Legolas and Gimli from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is a classic friendship that is about more than just becoming friends through hardship. It’s about two parties overcoming deep-seated prejudices to see the best of each other and form a lifelong bond. I loved seeing it on screen, but it’s also more moving in the books when you read the appendices and learn how this friendship ends.

Rohan and Sioned from The Dragon Prince Trilogy by Melanie Rawn

Rohan and Sioned are my favorite fantasy romance paring…so far. They balance each other well. Sure, it’s insta-love, but they face hardships as a couple and fight for their relationship. Their unshakable bond is forged through communication and respect. Also a healthy dose of sneaking away from their responsibilities to spend some quality time together.

Marcus and April from Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

I wrote a gushing review of this book just yesterday! Marcus and April, while flawed, are a couple that is built on love and respect. I loved watching them discover each other and grow together.

Eve and Roarke from the In Death series by J.D. Robb

These two are constantly surprising one another. I enjoy watching them discover who the other is, and find new depths to their partner and themselves. It also helps that they are both willing to go out of their comfort zones for each other.

Mercy and Adam from the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Mercy and Adam are two different species, he is a wolf she a cotoye, yet the love and respect (it starts as a need to irritate) they have for one another is outstanding. There is no length they won’t go to keep each other, and their pack/family, safe. This often leads to each of them thinking they know what’s best, which leads to poor communication, which, eventually, gets resolved.

Addie and Henry from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Addie and Henry are complicated, to say the least. When she meets him, she is almost desperate for his attention, as he is the first person in over 300 years to remember her. What forms is a sweet and enduring relationship.

Ryland and … from Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I can’t really say much about these two without giving it away. But this friendship is so pure. I love it so much.

Matthew and Diana from The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

I’ve made no secret of my love for this series, and at the heart of that lies Matthew and Diana. The story of a witch and a vampire who have to defy a centuries-old law just to be together. There isn’t anything they aren’t willing to do to be together. And it’s a beautifully written journey.

Amelia and Zaira from the Swords and Fire Trilogy by Melissa Caruso

At first, these two have a contentious relationship that builds into a begrudging trust. It’s made all the more complicated by the fact that Zaira wants nothing to do with the institution she finds herself inextricably bound to.

And there it is. My list of dynamic duos. I can actually think of several more but managed to narrow the list down to these ten. It’s a miracle!

Who is your favorite dynamic duo?

New Releases-January 2022

Well hello, beautiful peoples! I hope you are doing well today. I’m still ill, but I’m not letting that stop me from bringing you the newest releases for the month of January, of which there are many. Seriously, there are 22. There were very few new releases for December, and this month we have 22 dropping? Wowzers.

Part of the reason the list is so long is that I have decided to include some sequels in my new release posting. I mean, why not post all the bookish goodness?

As always these are projected release dates and are subject to change.

January 4th

The Starless Crown by James Rollins

A gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death.

Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts:

A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home.

A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother’s shadow and claims a purpose of his own.

An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact – one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe.

On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation.

But with each passing moment, doom draws closer.

WHO WILL CLAIM THE STARLESS CROWN?

Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children Book 7) by Seanan McGuire

“Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you’ve already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company.”

There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again.
It isn’t as friendly as Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
And it isn’t as safe.

When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her “Home for Wayward Children,” she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.

She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming…

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.

Bad Gods by Gaie Siebold

You can find anything in Scalentine, the city of portals, but you won’t find a better brothel than the Red Lantern. And its proprietor, Babylon Steel (ex-mercenary, ex-priestess, ex… lots of things), means to keep it that way.

But a prurient cult are protesting in the streets, sex workers are disappearing, and Babylon has bills to pay. When the powerful Diplomatic Section hires her – off the books – to find a missing heiress, she has to take the job.

And then her past starts to catch up with her…

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Vira, Ronak, Kaleb, and Riya may be siblings, but they’ve never been close or even liked each other that much. Torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken, only one thing can bring them back together: the search for the Ivory Key, a thing of legend that will lead the way to a new source of magic. Magic is Ashoka’s biggest export and the only thing standing between them and war with the neighboring kingdoms—as long as their enemies don’t find out that the magic mines are nearly depleted.

The siblings all have something to gain from finding the Ivory Key, and even more to lose if they don’t. For Vira, the Ivory Key is the only way to live up to the legacy of her mother, the beloved former maharani. Ronak plans to get out of his impending political marriage by selling the Ivory Key to the highest bidder. Kaleb has been falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani, and this is the only way to clear his name. And Riya needs to prove her loyalty to the Ravens, the group of rebels that wants to take control away from the maharani and give it to the people. With each sibling harboring secrets and conflicting agendas, figuring out a way to work together may be the most difficult task of all. And in a quest this dangerous, working together is the only way to survive.

January 11th

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, untrained, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the Crown Prince, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the emperor’s son.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. When treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, however, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

The Practical Guide to Conquering the World (The Seige Book 3) by K.J. Parker

This is the true story of Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, the intended and unintended consequences of his life, the bad stuff he did on purpose, and the good stuff that happened in spite of him.

It is, in other words, the tale of a war to end all wars, and the man responsible.

The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley: An Elemental Masters Novel by Mercedes Lackey

Annie Oakley has always suspected there is something “uncanny” about herself, but has never been able to put a name to it. But when Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show goes on tour through Germany, Bill temporarily hires a new sharpshooter to be part of his “World Wide Congress of Rough Riders”: a woman named Giselle, who also happens to be an Elemental Master of Air. Alongside this new performer, Annie discovers that she and her husband, Frank, are not simply master marksman, but also magicians of rare ability.

As they travel and perform, Annie must use her newfound knowledge and rare skill to combat creatures of the night scattered across the countryside, who threaten both the performers and the locals. Annie’s got her gun, and it’s filled with silver bullets.

Gods and Dragons (Wake the Dragon Book 3) by Kevin J. Anderson

Two continents at war: the Three Kingdoms and Ishara have been in conflict for a thousand years. But when an outside threat arises—the reawakening of a powerful ancient race that wants to remake the world—the two warring nations must somehow set aside generations of hatred to form an alliance against a far more deadly enemy.

Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

Isobel is the Queen of the medieval rave-themed VR game Sparkle Dungeon. Her prowess in the game makes her an ideal candidate to learn the secrets of “power morphemes”—unnaturally dense units of meaning that warp perception when skilfully pronounced.

But Isobel’s reputation makes her the target of a strange resistance movement led by spellcasting anarchists, who may be the only thing stopping the cabal from toppling California over the edge of a terrible transformation, with forty million lives at stake.

Time is short for Isobel to level up and choose a side—because the cabal has attracted much bigger and weirder enemies than the anarchist resistance, emerging from dark and vicious dimensions of reality and heading straight for planet Earth!

Deep Dive by Ron Walters

Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game doesn’t meet the same fate. He desperately needs a win, not only to save his struggling company, but to justify the time he’s spent away from his wife and daughters.

So when Peter’s tech-genius partner offers him the chance to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, he jumps at it. But something goes wrong during the trial, and Peter wakes to find himself trapped in an eerily familiar world where his children no longer exist.

As the lines between the real and virtual worlds begin to blur, Peter is forced to reckon with what truly matters to him. But can he escape his virtual prison before he loses his family forever?

The Amber Crown by Jacey Bedford

The king is dead, his queen is missing. On the amber coast, the usurper king is driving Zavonia to the brink of war. A dangerous magical power is rising up in Biela Miasto, and the only people who can set things right are a failed bodyguard, a Landstrider witch, and the assassin who set off the whole sorry chain of events.

Valdas, Captain of the High Guard, has not only failed in his duty to protect the king, but he’s been accused of the murder, and he’s on the run. He’s sworn to seek justice, but his king sets him another task from beyond the grave. Valdas doesn’t believe in magic, which is unfortunate as it turns out.

Mirza is the healer-witch of a Landstrider band, valued and feared in equal measure for her witchmark, her scolding tongue, and her ability to walk the spirit world. When she’s given a task by Valdas’ dead king, she believes that the journey she must take is one she can never return from.

Lind is the clever assassin. Yes, someone paid him to kill the king, but who is to blame, the weapon or the power behind it? Lind must face his traumatic past if he’s to have a future.

Can these three discover the real villain, find the queen, and set the rightful king on the throne before the country is overcome?

The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder

Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn’t believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who’s been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi—until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way—not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.
 
These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

January 13th

The North Wind by Alexandria Warwick

Long before civilization, there were the gods. And before the gods, there was the earth, the celestial bodies, and air given flesh. They are the Anemoi—the Four Winds—and they have been banished to the four corners of the world.

Wren of Edgewood is no stranger to suffering. Her parents are gone. Survival is all she knows. For three hundred years, the land known as the Gray has been encased in ice, surrounded by a great barrier called the Shade, which protects the townsfolk from the Deadlands beyond.

But day by day, the Shade weakens.

Only one thing can stop the Shade’s fall: a mortal woman taken captive across the barrier, bound in wedlock to the dark god who reigns over the Deadlands. He is the North Wind, the Frost King, an immortal whose heart is said to be as frigid as the land he rules.

And the time has come for the Frost King to choose his bride.

January 18th

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

In 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet. 

From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resilience of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.

Servant Mage by Kate Elliot

Fellian is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellian has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

Engines of Empire by R.S. Ford

The nation of Torwyn is run on the power of industry, and industry is run by the Guilds. Chief among them are the Hawkspurs, whose responsibility it is to keep the gears of the empire turning. That’s exactly why matriarch Rosomon Hawkspur sends each of her heirs to the far reaches of the nation. 

Conall, the eldest son, is sent to the distant frontier to earn his stripes in the military. It is here that he faces a threat he could have never seen coming: the first rumblings of revolution.

Tyreta is a sorceress with the ability to channel the power of pyrestone, the magical resource that fuels the empire’s machines. She is sent to the mines to learn more about how pyrsetone is harvested – but instead, she finds the dark horrors of industry that the empire would prefer to keep hidden.

The youngest, Fulren, is a talented artificer and finds himself acting as a guide to a mysterious foreign emissary. Soon after, he is framed for a crime he never committed. A crime that could start a war. 

As the Hawkspurs grapple with the many threats that face the nation within and without, they must finally prove themselves worthy–or their empire will fall apart. 

The Chosen Twelve by James Breakwell

The last interstellar colony ship is down to its final batch of humans after the robots in charge unhelpfully deleted the rest. But rebooting a species and training them for the arduous task of colonization isn’t easy – especially when the planet below is filled with monsters, the humans are more interested in asking questions than learning, and the robots are all programmed to kill each other.

But the fate of humanity rests on creating a new civilization on the planet below, and there are twelve seats on the lander. Will manipulation or loyalty save the day?

January 25th

Light Years From Home by Mike Chen

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.

When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.

Obsidian by Sarah J. Daley

Shade Nox is the only witch in a land of wizards – a fiend, a rogue, a wanted criminal.

Defying those who think her an abomination, Shade wears her tattoos openly and carries obsidian blades at her hips. For years, she has protected the outcast clans who wander the blighted Wastes, but the land is growing more unstable and her blades are no longer enough.

To save her people, Shade vows to raise a Veil of protection – a feat not accomplished in over a hundred years. But the magical Veils are said to belong to the Brotherhood church; if she succeeds in raising one, it will expose their lies. They swear to see her obliterated first.

Treading a dangerous path where allies can be as deceitful as enemies, and where demons lurk in the shadows, Shade chases a vision which could lead to her people’s salvation… or her own destruction.

Yup, 22 books. I know, most of these will already be out by the time you see this, but that’s okay. You may find some hidden gems that you hadn’t considered before!

What sticks out to you? I know I’m interested in Battle of the Linguist Mages and also The Starless Crown.

First Lines Friday-December 24, 2021

Happy Christmas! How is your holiday eve going! Me, well, I’m going to watch A Muppet’s Christmas Carol 16 times. That movie is perfect.

But hey, it just so happens to be First Lines Friday!

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author, or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

The Lines:

” Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was a dead as a door-nail.”

That’s a pretty famous opening line. Do we even need arrows?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

I just couldn’t help myself. It is Christmas after all! Besides, I couldn’t mention the superior adaptation of A Christmas Carol and not use the original for my First Lines Friday post.

Themeing!

But in all seriousness. I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays. May you know both comfort and joy this Christmas and may all your bookish wishes come true!

Naughty or Nice Book Tag

When I saw this festive tag on the Wicked Witch’s Blog, I knew I had to do it. She got it from Jennily, to whom the image below also belongs. This tag spoke to me, which is weird because I read it.

Rules

  • Tag & link the person who tagged you (um, no one)
  • Tag and link me/this post (if you would be so kind, I love reading your answers!)
  • Tick/cross off the ones you’ve done
  • Tag another 10 people! (I don’t think I even know ten people!)

Received an ARC and not reviewed it: Yes, but’s that’s only because I like to review books closer to their release date. I should work on that.

Have a less than 60% feedback ratio on NetGalley: Unfortunately, the answer to this one is yes. And that’s because of the same answer above. I’m also behind by one book. Sigh.

Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did): I can honestly say I have never done this. I don’t really write reviews on Goodreads, and if I do, it’s the same thing you would find on my blog so…yeah.

Folded down the page of a book: Yes. When I was younger. It leads to tearing and ripping on my part so I stopped doing it.

Accidentally spilled on a book: No, thank goodness. Now other people have spilled on my books and I have never forgiven them. But yeah, not me.

DNF a book this year: That’s a big affirmative.

Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it: Yes. I have an illustrated copy of The Hobbit that I got purely for the aesthetics.

Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework): Um, yes. Almost all the time. I mean, who needs sleep?

Skim read a book: No. I dislike skim reading. If I generally dislike a book enough to be tempted to skim it, I just stop reading.

Completely missed your Goodreads goal: Yes, though I met it this year. Go me!

Borrowed a book and not returned it: Never. Libraries are sacred places. You should always return your books!

Broke a book buying ban: Am I breathing? Then yes, yes I have. And I will continue to do so to the point that I will ban myself from doing book buying bans.

Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about: Nope. I tend to sit down a write a review as soon as I finish the book so I don’t forget what it is I was reading.

Wrote in a book you were reading: I can honestly say I have not. Have I thought about it? Sure. That temptation usually passes me by.

Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads: In my past, yes. My Goodreads from years past is a mess. I am much better at keeping up with it now. Of course, this means I’m posting what I’m reading on both Goodreads and The Storygraph.

Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend: Only once. And I am bound and determined to get that book back to her. I just saw her a few months ago too! I missed my golden opportunity!

Dodged someone asking if they can borrow a book: No. But that’s because I just outright say no.

Broke the spine of someone else’s book: Nope. At least, not that I can remember.

Took the jacket off a book to protect it and ended up making it more damaged: Yes. But my cat did it. I have since learned to put the dust jackets back on the books when I am not reading them.

Sat on a book accidentally: Of course. Who hasn’t? Liars, that’s who.

My score is 11 out of 10, so I’m naughty, but also nice? But mostly naughty. Guess I’m getting coal in my stocking this year!

If you would like to do this tag, go on and give it a go! I had a lot of fun doing it. It’s always amusing to admit you forgot to give a book back.

Ha. Ha ha.

TTT- Books I Hope Santa Brings/Bookish Wishes

It’s almost Christmas!!!

I don’t have a problem. I swear. Anyway… it’s Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and originally created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s post is all about the books we want for Christmas! And I’m not gonna lie. I already have that list prepared because all I asked for Christmas was books.

I’m not predictable at all.

Far From The Light Of Heaven by Tade Thompson

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake.

Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.

Inhibitor Phase by Alistair Reynolds

For thirty years a tiny band of humans has been sheltering in the caverns of an airless, crater-pocked world called Michaelmas. Beyond their solar system lie the ruins of human interstellar civilization, stalked by a ruthless, infinitely patient cybernetic entity determined to root out the last few bands of survivors. One man has guided the people of Michaelmas through the hardest of times, and given them hope against the wolves: Miguel de Ruyter.

When a lone human ship blunders into their system, and threatens to lead the wolves to Michaelmas, de Ruyter embarks on a desperate, near-suicide mission to prevent catastrophe. But an encounter with a refugee from the ship—the enigmatic woman who calls herself only Glass—leads to de Ruyter’s world being turned upside down.

The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel

In the future, you can have any body you want—as long as you can afford it.

But in a New York ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, Kobo is barely scraping by. He
scouts the latest in gene-edited talent for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, but his own cybernetics are a decade out of date and twin sister loan sharks are banging down his door. Things couldn’t get much worse.

Then his brother—Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz—is murdered at home plate.

Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into a world of genetically modified CEOs, philosophical Neanderthals, and back-alley body modification, only to quickly find he’s in a game far bigger and more corrupt than he imagined. To keep himself together while the world is falling apart, he’ll have to navigate a time where both body and soul are sold to the highest bidder. 

A Marvelous Light by Freya Marske

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

Absynthe by Brenden P. Bellacourt

Liam Mulcahey, a reclusive, shell-shocked veteran, remembers little of the Great War. Ten years later, when he is caught in a brutal attack on a Chicago speakeasy, Liam is saved by Grace, an alluring heiress who’s able to cast illusions. Though the attack appears to have been committed by the hated Uprising, Grace believes it was orchestrated by Leland De Pere–Liam’s former commander and the current President of the United States.
 
Meeting Grace unearths long-buried memories. Liam’s former squad, the Devil’s Henchmen, was given a serum to allow telepathic communication, transforming them into a unified killing machine. With Grace’s help, Liam begins to regain his abilities, but when De Pere learns of it, he orders his militia to eliminate Liam at any cost.
 
But Liam’s abilities are expanding quickly. When Liam turns the tables and digs deeper into De Pere’s plans, he discovers a terrible secret. The same experiment that granted Liam’s abilities was bent toward darker purposes. Liam must navigate both his enemies and supposed allies to stop the President’s nefarious plans before they’re unleashed on the world. And Grace is hiding secrets of her own, secrets that could prove every bit as dangerous as the President’s.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walchots

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.  And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

Once More Upon A Time by Roshana Chokshi

Once upon a dream, there was a prince named Ambrose
and a princess named Imelda who loved each other…
But alas, no more.
“What a witch takes, a witch does not give back!”
their friends and family warn.
They resign themselves to this loveless fate…
A year and a day pass.
And then their story truly begins…

Embark on a perilous journey with Imelda and Ambrose as they brave magical landscapes and enchanted creatures on their quest to reclaim their heart’s desire…But first, they must remember what that is…

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother has been shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl

Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town—at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.

It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.

To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex—even though she is trying to kill him.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

I also had The Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao on this list, but the hubs gave that to me early as a birthday gift! It’s like he knows me!

But yes, I did ask for all of these books for Christmas. No, I’m not expecting to get them all. Santa loves me but I don’t expect him to have to carry that many books down the chimney.