The Harry Potter series would be an obvious choice so I decided to exclude them. Most of the following are favorites. I’ve excluded titles or series that picked me up from a slump because to me those series are on a different pedestal.
For all of these books they met a few points:
I enjoyed the writing style
The plot was very unique & drew in my interest
The characters stole the story & pulled me along on their journey
I got completely immersed in the story
The story structure was very interesting
Wolfsong by TJ Klune
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
The Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopullos
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson — Unfortunately I wasn’t really interested in the rest of the series which was a bummer but this first book, loved it~
Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Half Bad by Sally Green
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons — the 5th and final book, The Discord of Gods, comes out April 26, 2022
Wranglestone by Darren Charlton — the date of the sequel hasn’t been announced but I’m always checking in
The 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
I tried to limit my picks to either standalones or completed series, but I just had to include 2 ongoing series.
The Kodansha sale this month has made me look for more titles to add to my collection. I prefer owning the digital copy because it’s easier to bring with me (not to mention the small space I have). All the following are titles I have not read yet but I want to one day.
For most of the titles I’ve seen them around and the plot seems different enough to pick up. There are also some where I just want to see some shenanigan happen. I just want to vibe with more series.
Beastars by Paru Itagaki — I’m just hesitant on picking it up because I don’t know what to expect.
Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue — I’m curious about this series because it was a sensational series back in the day. I’m a huge fan of sports manga even though my understanding or sports are quite small. I wonder how it stands the test of time, but I want to learn why these characters were so memorable.
I Think Our Son Is Gay by Okura — I’ve read their previous series That Blue Sky Feeling and I’m quite curious in seeing other stories written by the mangaka. This seems like a feel good story.
Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami — Seems the rest of my family has been watching this and I figure I should check out why they’re watching it.
Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida — It’s one of those manga that I’m on the fence about. Based on the cover I get a grim feeling from it and I’m nervous of what the story will be about. I suppose I should just check it out myself to see if my first impression was right.
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya — Again another title that has been around for a while. I avoided it because in the past I just didn’t want to read anything related to Shoujo. Now since time has passed I’ve become more willing to try manga genres I’ve avoided in the past.
A Side Character’s Love Story by Akane Tamura — Ever since I’ve seen it while perusing manga titles I was interested in the title. I haven’t found the time to pick up the series, but I’m interested in seeing how the story plays out.
Karneval by Touya Mikanagi — This seems just right up my ally (beautiful artwork and bishounen characters) but I’m hesitant. Sometimes the story doesn’t resonate with me or there are so many moving parts that I’m not given time to get used to the world. I’ll be getting the first eight volumes from my library soon so it’s fingers crossed.
For a Jujutsu, Tokyo, and Neverland I’ll most likely read them through my Viz subscription. My library also has Tokyo to borrow so I may do that so I can read more chapters for another title through Viz. Otherwise I’ll have to purchase most of the titles in order to read them.
This tag was originally created by Chami. I wasn’t tagged by anyone (nor am I tagging anyone else), but I just felt like torturing myself doing it. I’m going to try my best not to have any repeats.
1. Best book you’ve read so far
Boy this is hard. I haven’t found it yet, but the book that comes close (in terms of wanting to physically own the book, stare at the book for all the good memories, smell the book, etc.) has got to be Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner. While this is the 5th book in The Queen’s Thief series all the books after the first two are sort of companions to one another. We follow one of my favorite characters who makes an appearance and I enjoyed the story. Yes, so vague but I had listened to the book through audio. I have yet to delve into the physical words to create my own imagining of the story and take the time to sound out–but really, to see the spelling of their name and possibly mispronounce–the character’s names.
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far
I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue on with this Sci-fi series or not until this book: Network Effect, book 5 in The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells. While each book is full of action and character development, this book just tied everything together and left the door open for more possibilities. Finally a storyline I found more exciting and cared about. While I’ve read the entire series through audio I think it’s time to actually read the 6th book in person (and not because the audio for it isn’t available through Hoopla).
3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to
I’m kicking myself. The House of Always, book 4 in A Chorus of Dragons, by Jenn Lyons. I’m always waiting for the “perfect” moment to read it when I just freaking need to read it. This was a highly anticipated release of mine for 2021. I even got an ARC! The book is out already! No excuses!
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
My post for it is already up here. Those however are either standalones or first books in a series. I’ll name 3 sequels that I’m anticipating.
The one I’m most anticipated for is Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. The Bronzed Beasts, book 3 in The Gilded Wolves, by Roshani Chokshi and The Shattered Castle, Book 5 in The Ascendance Series, by Jennifer A. Nielsen
5. Biggest disappointment
I think I’ve found a genre that I’m not the hugest fan of. Either that or it’s the writing style that has bummed me out. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. I thought I liked fairytale-esque stories, but I haven’t been enjoying them as much as I would have liked. I was not drawn into the story or the characters. The premise is always interesting, but that’s the only reason why I always stick around.
6. Biggest surprise
I have 2 contrary picks. Written in Red (WIR) book 1 in The Others, by Anne Bishop and Shadow of the Fox (SOTF), book 1 in The Shadow of the Fox trilogy, by Julie Kagawa. I enjoyed WIR but I wasn’t as satisfied with the rest of the series. I wanted more character development than what was there. Again one of those titles where I should revisit through a physical copy to see if the experience remains the same or not.
As for SOTF, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the sequels. Perhaps there is a lot of character/plot introductions or worldbuilding, but I was so close to not continuing on with the series until I tried the second book.
7. Favorite new author (debut or new to you)
I can boorishly explain my own definition of “favorite” but I’ll just stick to a new-to-me author. The Apothecary Diaries by Natsu Hyuuga and illustrated by Nekokurage. I’m talking about the manga (since I have yet to read the light novel). There is a blend of humor, of medical mystery, and of royal politics. I’ve read and loved the first 2 volumes and I can’t wait for more!
8. Newest fictional crush
I don’t really get fictional crushes so SKIP.
9. Newest favorite character
I’m going to pick a manga character. Letty from Dragon Goes House-Hunting by Kawo Tanuki. I love how laidback the story is and the humor that surrounds Letty. Just the type of manga to lift up my reading spirts. So far I’ve only read the first volume of this manga, but I’m hooked.
10. A book that made you cry
I can cry at the most random thing while reading, but I don’t necessarily keep track of them. I think I may have cried while reading All He Knew by Helen Frost? Ah! I’ll include a manga title that I know I for sure cried to–My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. Just thinking of this manga is making me sad.
11. A book that made you happy
Ever have those oddly specific reading moods that are not satisfied by whatever you’ve read to try and placate it? Mine was a slow romance that was based on communication and attraction built on spending time together (instead of heavy physical attraction) without being so overly tropey or dramatic. So I did my research but the titles I tried just couldn’t fulfill that mood. I’ve had that mood for months now until I read Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales (to which I finished just yesterday). This the book I didn’t know I was waiting for! It’s YA contemporary so the romance isn’t as prevalent, but it’s a book about providing relationship advice in an affluent high school setting. It was different and the slow romance just drew me in. I have to say that Sophie Gonzales was on my radar since I read Only Mostly Devastated last year, and now she’s a potential new favorite. I’m definitely looking forward to more of her works.
12. The most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
Mostly for nostalgia sake and not to mention this is how I’ve seen her doing after reading the book and seeing the movie.
13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year
Ha! I’ve created lists of books I would like to read in 2021. Am I reading them? No. However, these are the books I want to hopefully get to.
Now I need to go find and read more amazing books otherwise my 2021 review will have a lot of repeats.
My anticipated books for the first half can be found here. Usually when it comes to these types of posts I like posting about first books in a series or standalones. There will only be 10 titles here, but there are a handful of sequels that are releasing later on in the year that I will share in another post.
/ 13th /
The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad
Middle Grade Fantasy
A boy who underestimates his power . . .
A girl with a gift long thought lost . . .
A Land ready for revolution . . .
The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power.
That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden. For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right.
Teaming up with a fiery runaway boy, their mission quickly turns into something far greater as sinister forces long lurking in the shadows prepare to make their final move—no matter what the cost. But it just might be Beau who wields the power he seeks . . . if he can go from pawn to player before the Land tears itself apart.
/ 7th /
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cohrun
In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.
Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.
Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.
As Dev fights to get Charlie to open up to the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.
Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee
Middle Grade Fantasy
While I wasn’t a complete fan of Shamanborn, her Young Adult fantasy series, I wanted to at least try out her middle grade series before making up my mind.
/ 21st /
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
On my radar because author is a favorite.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help, he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.
The Wolf’s Curse by Jessica Vitalis
Shunned by his fearful town, a twelve-year-old apprentice embarks on a surprising quest to clear his name, with a mythic—and dangerous—wolf following closely at his heels. Jessica Vitalis’s debut is a gorgeous, voice-driven literary fantasy about family, fate, and long-held traditions. The Wolf’s Curse will engross readers of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and A Wish in the Dark.
Gauge’s life has been cursed since the day he cried Wolf and was accused of witchcraft. The Great White Wolf brings only death, Gauge’s superstitious town believes. If Gauge can see the Wolf, then he must be in league with it. So instead of playing with friends in the streets or becoming his grandpapa’s partner in the carpentry shop, Gauge must hide and pretend he doesn’t exist. He helps his grandpapa in secret and is allowed out of the house only under the cover of night. Then the Wolf comes for his grandpapa, and for the first time, Gauge is left all alone, with a bounty on his head and the Wolf at his heels.
When a young feather collector named Roux offers Gauge assistance, Gauge is eager for the help. But soon the two—both recently orphaned—are questioning everything they have ever believed about their town, about the Wolf, and about death itself.
City of Thieves by Alex London
Book 1 in Battle Dragons
Middle Grade Fantasy
I’ve been keeping up with Alex London’s works after reading Proxy. I believe this will be his first middle grade series and I’m excited to see what happens.
In a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.
Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins―criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.
Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he’s destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret…and a stolen dragon.
Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement…
To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.
When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what’s worth fighting for?
/ 28th /
Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson
The magic rivalry reminds me of The Night Circus which was too lyrical for my liking.
The Prestige meets What If It’s Us in Before We Disappear, a queer ahistorical fantasy set during the 1909 Seattle Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition, where the two assistants of two ambitious magicians find themselves falling in love amidst a bitter rivalry designed to tear them apart.
Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility have served him well his entire life—making him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in early-twentieth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks and copycat sleight-of-hand illusions, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago—not that she would ever admit it.
But when they’re forced to flee the continent for America, the Enchantress finds a new audience in Seattle at the 1909 Alaska–Yukon–Pacific World’s Fair Exposition. She and Jack are set to make a fortune until a new magician arrives on the scene. Performing tricks that defy the imagination, Laszlo’s act threatens to overshadow the Enchantress and co-opt her audience. Jack has no choice but to hunt for the secrets behind Laszlo’s otherworldly illusions—but what he uncovers isn’t at all what he expected.
What makes Laszlo’s tricks possible is, unbelievably, a boy that can seemingly perform real magic. Wilhelm’s abilities defy all the laws of physics. His talents are no clever sleights-of-hand. But even though Laszlo and Wilhelm’s act threatens to destroy the life Jack and the Enchantress have built, Jack and Wilhelm have near-instant connection. As the rivalry between the Enchantress and Laszlo grows increasingly dangerous and dire, Jack finds he has to choose between the woman who gave him a life and the boy who is offering him love. It’s a new star-crossed romance about the magic of first love from acclaimed author Shaun David Hutchinson.
Dark Rise by C. S. Pacat
Book 1 in Dark Rise
Young Adult Fantasy
I’m extremely excited to see this title. Ever since Captive Prince I’ve been wanting to read more from her. I’ve been tiding myself with her graphic novel Fence.
The ancient world of magic is no more. Its heroes are dead, its halls are ruins, and its great battles between Light and Dark are forgotten. Only the Stewards remember, and they keep their centuries-long vigil, sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns.
Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. When an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, Will is ushered into a world of magic, where he must train to play a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark.
As London is threatened by the Dark King’s return, the reborn heroes and villains of a long-forgotten war begin to draw battle lines. But as the young descendants of Light and Dark step into their destined roles, old allegiances, old enmities, and old flames are awakened. Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the dark fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.
/ 2nd /
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
Young Adult Contemporary with a Magical Realism twist
If I Stay meets Your Name in this heartfelt novel about love and loss and what it means to say goodbye.
How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line?
Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan.
But then Sam dies. And everything changes.
Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.
And Sam picks up the phone.
In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again and, with each call, it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske
Book 1 in The Last Binding
Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light unfolds in an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.
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.
/ 7th /
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich
Young Adult Contemporary
On my radar because of the author. I read Only Mostly Devastated last year and quite enjoyed it. Now I want to see if Sophie Gonzales is an author I wouldn’t mind reading more from or not.
Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.
On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?
Since I’m always late to the game I’m sharing a few covers for anticipated releases coming out later this year (that I didn’t get to experience at the beginning of the year).
These are in no particular order.
I only found four covers from my initial list. There are still a couple of titles that have yet to have their covers released, but I’ll probably save those for my anticipated releases for the second half of 2021. (Or just share them on my tumblr.)
I’m not particularly in any rush to read them, but they’ve been on my radar for a while. I thought it would be a struggle to find a title I would want to read but there are a few titles out there. It also turns out that some books that I thought were old were actually younger than me which always surprises me. I wanted to go retro on the covers, but there was just so much to choose from.
I tried not to include authors that I’ve recently mentioned in previous posts and shine some light on other authors I’ve read from.
Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Ascendance Series
Originally a trilogy that got expanded to a six-book series. Book five comes out this year.
These Rebel Waves Duology
The Last Sun Book 1 in The Tarot Sequence
I originally wasn’t going to continue on with the series, but I decided to give the second book a try since I was curious. I enjoyed the second more than the first. Now I can’t wait for the next book.
Son of the Black Sword Book 1 in Saga of the Forgotten Warrior
Adult fantasy series
Only Mostly Devastated
YA contemporary standalone
K. L. Walther
If We Were Us
YA contemporary standalone
Boy Swallows Universe
A book that takes a surprising turn. I just love how the story plays out and how everything comes together in the end.
The Chronicles of Prydain
These books do read a bit young. I would have put the series down from the first book if there were no audiobooks.
Cinda Williams Chima
The Demon King Book 1 of Seven Realms
I’ve been seeing these titles every time I’ve visited my library. Now I finally picked up the first book.
Wolf Brother Book 1 of The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
I was in a mood for survival in the wilderness fiction story. I found that most of the stories with this concept that include adventure with an immersed plot I care about are found in middle grade books.
It’s that time of the year again. With some free time I’ve decided to try something different this year (not that did I much last year). I’m attempting a newsletter-esque style post with all the tools that I can use/incorporate (which is not much). This new block style post is nice and useful, but I’m still exploring and getting used to it.
So on my Goodreads I don’t mark most of the manga or children’s books that I’ve read. I’m also not sharing the graphic novels I’ve read because I read so few to dedicate a page for them.
I had a lot of fun creating this last minute idea with zero planning.
Technically first half of 2021 + 1. This is a continuation of my Top Ten Tuesday post which can be found here. There are no repeats. I’m only including titles where the release dates have been announced. Most are sequels to series I want to continue and a handful are authors I will like to read more from.
I’ve only included books that are either standalones or the first in a series. I’ll be making another post with all the books I’m looking forward to in the first half of 2021 which includes all the sequels. There are some books that I wanted to put on the list but the release date is currently unknown.
/ 2 / Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
But the Jainan suspects his late husband’s death was no accident. And Prince Kiem discovers that Jainan is a suspect himself. But broken bonds between the Empire and its vassal planets leaves the entire empire vulnerable, so together they must prove that their union is strong while uncovering a possible conspiracy.
A famously disappointing minor royal and the Emperor’s least favorite grandchild, Prince Kiem is summoned before the Emperor and commanded to renew the empire’s bonds with its newest vassal planet. The prince must marry Count Jainan, the recent widower of another royal prince of the empire.
In the shadows of a secret past an insecure future, Kiem an Jainan must come together to protect both of their worlds.
/ 2 / The Night Parade of 100 Demons by Marie Brennan
Chaos has broken out in the isolated Dragon Clan settlement of Seibo Mura. During the full moon, horrifying creatures rampage through the village, unleashing havoc and death. When the Dragon samurai Agasha no Isao Ryotora is sent to investigate, he faces even greater danger than expected. To save the village, he must confront his buried past – not to mention an unexpected Phoenix Clan visitor, Asako Sekken, who has his own secrets to hide. The quest to save Sebo Mura will take the two samurai into the depths of forgotten history and the shifting terrain of the Spirit Realms… and bring them face to face with an ancient, terrifying evil.
/ 23 / The Hedgehog of Oz by Cory Leonardo
Marcel the hedgehog used to live with his beloved owner Dorothy, but since getting hopelessly lost, he’s tried to forget the happy home he left behind. Now, Marcel lives a quiet life in the abandoned balcony of The Emerald City Theater where he subsists on dropped popcorn and the Saturday showings of The Wizard of Oz.
But when he’s discovered, Marcel is taken far away from everything he knows and ends up lost once more. His quest to return to The Emerald City Theater leads him to Mousekinland, where he meets Scamp, a tiny mouse armed with enormous spirit (and a trusty sling-shooter). Before long, they’re joined by an old gray squirrel, Ingot, who suffers from bad memories and a broken heart and Tuffy, a baby raccoon lost and afraid in the forest. And the travelers attract the attention of an owl named Wickedwing, who stalks them as they search for the old theater.
From field to forest, glittering theatre to the gutter, the animals’ road home is a dark and winding journey. But sometimes you need to get a little lost before you can be found.
/ 2 / The Bright and the Pale by Jessica Rubinkowski
Seventeen-year-old Valeria is one of the few survivors of the freeze, a dark magical hold Knnot Mountain unleashed on her village. Everyone, including her family, remains trapped in an unbreakable sheet of ice. Ever since, she’s been on the run from the Czar, whose sole mission is to imprison anyone who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, working odd jobs with her best friend, Alik, the only piece of home she has left. That is, until he is brutally murdered.
A year later, Valeria discovers Alik is alive and being held captive. In exchange for his freedom, she must lead a group on a perilous expedition to the very mountain that claimed her loved ones. But something sinister slumbers in the heart of Knnot.
And it has waited years for release.
/ 23 / Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
When children start to go missing in the local woods, a teen girl must face her fears and a past she can’t remember to rescue them in this atmospheric YA novel from the author of Cemetery Boys.
Something sinister waits within the trees . . .
It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into the light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road . . .
Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, asks for Wendy’s help to rescue the missing kids. But, in order to find them, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.
/ 30 / The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
The last thing Barclay Thorne ever wanted was an adventure.
Thankfully, as an apprentice to the town’s mushroom farmer, Barclay need only work hard and follow the rules to one day become the head mushroom farmer himself. No danger required. But then Barclay accidentally breaks his town’s most sacred rule: never ever EVER stray into the Woods, for within the Woods lurk vicious magical Beasts.
To Barclay’s horror, he faces a fate far worse than being eaten: he unwittingly bonds with a Beast and is run out of town by an angry mob. Determined to break this bond and return home, Barclay journeys to find the mysterious town of Lore Keepers, people who have also bonded with Beasts and share their powers.
But after making new friends, entering a dangerous apprenticeship exam, and even facing the legend.
/ 20 / In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens
Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.
Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.
That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…
/ 25 / The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
In 1898, England is a peaceful colony of the Republic of France. Everything from the street signs to the newspapers is written in French, and only the terrorists in Scotland speak English. In soot-blackened, smog-ridden London, the slave trade is thriving, and the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral are surrounded by the factories that keep France’s empire and army fitted out with steel.
But Joe Tournier doesn’t remember any of this. His first memory is of being 43 years old and stepping off a train. Joe is diagnosed with a kind of epilepsy, one that causes amnesia and which results in periodic visions of a mysterious man. The only clue Joe has about his former identity is a century-old postcard of a Scottish lighthouse that arrives in London the same month Joe does.
Two years later, Joe accepts a job to repair that lighthouse. He’s drawn to the building, and to the mystery of the place: the previous lighthouse keepers have vanished and the brand-new lighthouse is in need of repair. But what Joe finds in Scotland will change the way he sees the world, its history, and, most importantly, himself.
/ 8 / The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reed
In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.
But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.
As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.
/ 22 / Arrow by Samantha M. Clark
For the first twelve years of Arrow’s life, he has grown up as the only human in a lush, magical rainforest that’s closed off from the rest of the world. He was raised by the Guardian Tree, the protector of the forest, which uses the earth’s magic to keep it hidden from those who have sought to exploit and kill it. But now the magic veil is deteriorating, the forest is dying, and Arrow may be the only one who can save it.
Arrow has never seen another human until one day, a man in a small airplane crash-lands in the forest. Then, a group of children finds their way in, escaping from their brutal, arid world where the rich live in luxurious, walled-off cities and the poor struggle for survival.
The Guardian Tree urges Arrow to convince the trespassers to leave by any means necessary. Arrow is curious about these newcomers, but their arrival sets off a chain of events that leave him with a devastating choice: be accepted by his own kind or fight to save the forest that is his home.