ARC Review: Mary’s The Name – Ross Sayers

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Release Date: 30th January 2017
Publisher: Cranachan Books
Pages:  314
Find it: Amazon. Goodreads.

Mary and her Grandpa are on the run, but who from?

Synopsis

An eight-year-old girl and her granpa are on the run…

“When me and Granpa watched James Bond films, he told me not to be scared because people didn’t have guns like that in Scotland. That must’ve been why the robbers used hammers.”

Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him–and their money.

Mary’s quirky outlook on life, loss, and her love of all things Elvis, will capture your heart. Full of witty Scots banter, Mary’s the Name will have you reaching for the hankies, first with laughter, then with tears.

Review

I absolutely loved this book.  Since finishing its I think I’ve recommended it to about seven different people. It’s sweet, funny and very moving.  This already hits one of the top spots for favourite books of the year, and it’s only February. Mary’s the Name is absolutely a must read.

The whole book is told from the perspective of Mary. She’s eight, and has a very interesting outlook on life. She’s hilarious, her thought processes and some of the things she says had me laughing on the bus and during my lunch break. I took a while to read Mary’s the Name, because it’s such a lovely wee story. I loved seeing things from Mary’s perspective. She’s so witty and clever, she has an opinion on just about everything, and I loved that about her. Sayers did a fabulous job of writing from a wee lassie’s perspective, you can imagine a young girl asking speaking the way she does and behaving that way.

Mary and her Grandpa have such a wonderful relationship. With her parents dying in a car crash, it’s just the two of them. They’re so close – watching James Bond films and doing all sorts together. Their relationship got me misty eyed more than a few times, and it’s such a lovely story of family and trust. I rooted for them from the very first chapter right to the very end.

The story is a fascinating one, and has a roller-coaster of emotions. To be entirely honest, I felt like I needed a lie down after finishing it, I was so invested in these characters, and I had one hell of a book hangover after I’d finished reading. The book is also starts off in Stirling in Scotland before Mary and her Grandpa move to Portree in Skye. Being a Stirling resident myself I loved the style of writing and the Scottish dialect that was included. It’s a great touch and makes the characters seem all the more realistic.

I do also feel like the book stays with you after you’ve finished reading. I found myself still thinking about it even though I was moving on to read other things. It really is a fantastic début novel, and one I would definitely read again.


ARC Review: The Memory Book – Lara Avery

30316954Release Date: 26th January 2017
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 357
Find it: Amazon. Goodreads.

A gut wrenching story about a young girl with a rare disease.

Synopsis:

“They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.”

Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she’s going to win the national debating championship, then she’s going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sammie discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she’d planned so perfectly is derailed before it’s started. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. Realising that her life won’t wait to be lived, she sets out on a summer of firsts: The first party; The first rebellion; The first friendship; The last love.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

Review:

Well, that was painful to read. I had to wait a while to write a review of this one. I had to let the book sink in a little bit. The story follows Sammie as she deals with losing her memory and the effects of this rare disease. She’s a fascinating character. A bright young thing with a wonderful future, until that’s no longer possible. She’s a smart girl, and she’s determined to live her life no matter what. She doesn’t shy away from difficulty, and that was one of the many things I loved about her character. She’s an ordinary young girl, doing things most of us have done – she reads a book at a party – I can definitely admit to doing that.

The subject is a difficult one to broach, and the book is certainly a heartbreaking one. I did feel the ending was a bit abrupt, but that did add to the shock and overall feeling of the story. I also found it difficult to get used to the writing style. It’s a mixture of journals and notes, little snapshots of Sammie’s life. I loved the whole family unit in the book. The characters were very human and very life like, they make mistakes and do things wrong, and I think that definitely made the story seem so much more realistic and relatable.

I must admit I wasn’t so keen on the romance aspects of this story. While it obviously plays a large part in the book, I didn’t think it flowed as well as the rest of the story. I was much more interested in Sammie’s friendships and other relationships, as opposed to her romance with Stuart. It doesn’t detract from the story too much though. It is definitely still a tense and worthwhile read.

The Memory Book is definitely a book that stays with you when you’ve finished it. I also stress that you will never at least a box of tissues with you when reading it. This kind of book really isn’t the kind of thing I would normally read, but I’m so glad I did. It’s a wonderful, thought-provoking story. And if you’re a fan of books like The Fault in Our Stars, you’ll adore this one.


Blog Tour: Because I Was Lonely – Hayley Mitchell

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Pages: 262
Publisher: Red Door Publishing
Release Date: March 2nd 2017
Find it: Goodreads. Amazon.

What happens when two people who used to be friends, reconnect years later?

Synopsis:

Meet Rachel. She’s trapped in a sleep-deprived world of misery and grief. She used to love being a wife and mum, but now life is a grown-up mess.

Meet Adam. He’s trapped in a world of grief and confusion. It wasn’t always like this, but since the accident, things have never been the same.

Rachel and Adam used to be friends, back in the days before marriage and babies… in the days before loneliness set in. Then along came Facebook. So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their online friendship, what starts as a little harmless flirtation soon becomes an obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.

Review:

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the wonderful Because I was Lonely. This is an absolutely stunning début, and one that I absolutely flew through. The book focuses in on the relationship between two characters Adam and Rachel, as they reconnect after falling out of friendship. The book allows the perspectives of both characters, which can be jarring for some, but it really gave the reader is given the opportunity to really get to know the characters in depth. They are really well fleshed out, and whilst not the most likeable, they are incredibly realistic. They aren’t perfect people, they have their own limitations and flaws.

I don’t want to say too much about what happens in the story – it really is one that is best just to sit down and enjoy – but the book manages to deal with mental health topics in a really refreshing way. The book is split into two parts, with the latter half being more fast paced than the first. The first half of the book really lets you in on the characters, whilst the latter is more tense and plot driven. I thought this was a fantastic way to set the story up, by the time I got to the second half of the book I was so invested in the characters I just could not put it down.

This début really is a fantastic one. It’s well written, and the whole plot develops really well. It was a real pleasure to read, and I really can’t wait to see what Hayley has in store next! Thank you for checking out my stop on the Because I Was Lonely blog tour, check out the poster below for the rest of the stops!


ARC Review: The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

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Release Date: 12th January 2017
Publisher: Ebury
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads. Amazon.

A beautifully written tale of magic and mystery. This is definitely going to be one of my favourite books of 2017.

Synopsis:

‘Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.’

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…

Review:

It took me a while to write the review for this book, mainly because it took me a while to sort my feelings out about it. I absolutely adored this book, so much that I found it difficult to put down in wonders just how breath taking it really is. I also got one hell of a book hangover and haven’t read anything as good since. This is the sort of book I wanted to take copies of everywhere I go and just hand it out to people and say ‘here, read this it’s perfect.’

The Bear and the Nightingale is set in a fantasy version of medieval Russia. It contains all the history and folklore of that time period, coupled with an intoxicating array of magic and beauty. The book is incredibly atmospheric, and sucks you in right from the very get go. The thing I loved most about this was Arden’s beautiful writing. The Bear and the Nightingale is incredibly atmospheric, and really makes the settings come alive. This book is an absolutely stunning debut.

There are a whole host of interesting characters, from the creatures Vasya can talk to, to Frost himself. They were all well fleshed out and really interesting to see as the plot moves along and things become tense. I absolutely loved Vasya. We see her from a little girl  –  her wild and carefree behaviour, which then develops into a strong and brave young woman. It was really fascinating to see her grow and change in this beautiful and richly imagined setting.  I was also completely fascinated by Anna and the young priest. They’re both such complex and interesting characters, dealing with the harsh realities of their live, while attempting to understand the magic and mystery going on around them. The Bear and the Nightingale is almost like a fairytale, except it is so much more than that. I loved this book from start to finish and cannot wait to see what Katherine Arden brings out next.


Blog Tour: Dawn Study – Maria V. Snyder

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Series: Soulfinders #3 – Check out my review list of reviews of the other books in the series as well as the Study series!
Pages: 384
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: 31st January 2017
Find it On: Goodreads. Amazon.

Yelena and Valek are back in the final instalment of this beautiful and gripping fantasy series.

Synopsis:

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.

Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person’s resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.

With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.”

Review:

If I was to recommend one series for my followers to read, it would be this one. The Study series and the Soulfinder series are without a doubt some of my most favourite books. I’ve read them so many times and with this  final instalment, I know I’ll read it all over again. It’s difficult to write about such a wonderful book without giving anything away. If you love your fantasy stories with a kick ass leading lady, lots of magic, mystery, danger and of course murder, mix it in with a dash of romance and some hilarious side kicks – you’ve got the perfect recipe for a book and that’s exactly what Dawn Study is.

Like all the previous books in the series, I absolutely flew through it. It’s wonderful seeing all your old favourite characters again, and Maria gives you the chance to see them grow, to watch their relationships with each other evolve and change. Particularly Yelena and Valek, their relationship has grown stronger though all the things they’ve faced, and it’s wonderful to see their story continue in Dawn Study. The plot is fast paced with plenty of twists and turns . Like many of the previous instalments it keeps you guessing – I guarantee you’ll pick this up to read a few chapters and still be there hours later.

For those that have been reading the books since the beginning. You get the answers you want. The series is rounded off beautifully and Maria gives each wonderful character their own conclusion. While I’m sad to say goodbye to some of my most favourite characters, the ending does the story justice and I have hope that perhaps there will be more books set in Ixia, perhaps with a new generation of characters (please!)

*I also want to say whoever did the cover designs for this series did an A+ job because each one has been more beautiful than the last and they look absolutely stunning sitting pride of place on my bookshelf!

Thank you for checking out my stop on the Dawn Study Blog Tour, run by the lovely Rockstar Book Tours! Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for interviews, guest posts and lots of Ixia related goodness!

About Maria:

Maria V. Snyder changed from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two
children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.


Blog Tour: Titian’s Botman – Victoria Blake

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Release Date: 26th January 2017
Pages: 384
Publisher: Black & White Publishing
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

A captivating story of how the ripples of the past impact on the current day.

Synopsis:

It is 1576 and Venice is in chaos, ravaged by disease and overrun by crime.In the midst of the anarchy we find those brave souls who have chosen not to flee the city. Titian, most celebrated of Venetian painters, his health failing badly; Sabastiano a gondolier who is the eyes and ears of the corrupted and crumbling city and Tullia, the most famous courtesan of the age who must fight to retain her status as well as her worldly possessions. And in the present day the echoes of what happened centuries earlier still ripple as the lives of ordinary people as far distant as London and New York are touched by the legacy of old Venice…

Review:

This is a stunningly written and enticing story about Venice in the 1500s. The writing is so vibrant and the one thing that really struck me all through the book is how alive the settings feel – particularly the noises and smells of Venice in that time period. I absolutely loved this book. It took me a while to read it – not because I wasn’t enjoying it but because the writing was so rich and beautiful I just wanted to take my time and savour every little bit.

Titian’s Boatman has a really interesting premise. It centres around three different places – London and New York in 2011, and Venice in 1576. It’s a fascinating contrast between the two, and it’s hauntingly beautiful the way the paintings create little rippling effects hundreds of years after they were painted. The story is told in alternating points of view between the different locations, making for a beautifully complex, layer narration. This book was a pleasure to read, and really came alive the more I progressed through the story.

The characters in Titian’s Boatman really come alive on the page. Their stories are different, but all contain human emotions – anger and fear, love and loneliness. I loved that there was such a wide variety of characters. It offered so many perspectives, and made for such a beautiful and compelling story. I also must point how that I loved the simple and elegant cover design, I think it fits so well with the book. If you’re looking for beautiful writing, a complex and multi-layer plot and an enticing story, Titian’s Boatman will be just the think you’re looking for.

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Titian’s Boatman Blog Tour – the other dates are listed below so be sure to check them out for reviews, interviews and lots of other booky goodness!


ARC Review: This Is How It Always Is – Laurie Frankel

30809345Release Date: January 24th 2017
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 336
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon

A warm and touching story about what it means to be a family.

Synopsis:

Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time – and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl.

As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?

Review:

This is a really powerful and heart warming story, and one that I really enjoyed. It really made me think about family life. The topic is a really important one, and Frankel manages to balance this heavy subject matter with the sweet and funny moments of bringing up children.

The book is rather wonderfully written, though I did find it a little slow in some places, and maybe a little on the preachy side. That being said I really loved the Walsh-Adams family, they’re a wonderful unique bunch, and the sort of family I would have loved to live next door to as a child.

This Is How It Always Is will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. It’s thought provoking, it makes you think about what human beings are really like, how we make mistakes and attempt to do what’s best for those we love. It’s also interesting to see how the effect that Claude becoming Poppy has on the whole family – from the parents Penn and Rosie, to Poppy’s older brothers. I particularly loved Rosie and Penn, and really enjoyed the back story of their relationship. This Is How It Always Is is a frank and lovely story. One that make you smile, but also make you think.

 


Blog Tour: The One – John Marrs

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Release Date: January 26th 2017
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Pages: 368
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.


There’s one genetically perfect person in the world for you. If you could find out who they were, would you do it?

Synopsis:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes.

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

Review:

This book was just something else altogether. As soon as I read the premise I was hooked. The idea is such a fascinating one, and with all the constant advancements in technology, it feels really believable too. This book really is a fantastic one. The plot is so intense and exciting. I spent a large portion of my day at work being absolutely desperate to finish, just to come home and dive back in.

The book is divided into chapters alternating between the different couples who take the test, In the beginning I was a little lost as to which couple was which, but they quickly take shape as a unique and varied set of characters, all each dealing with the consequences of finding their match. My personal favourite was Mandy. I found her so fascinating and her story kept surprising me at every turn. I won’r say too much because I don’t want to spoil the story, but the one thing I really loved about The One is that it continually kept me guessing.

Not only is this a fantastically written story, it continually makes you think. If there was such a test would you take it? It might seem like a completely unbelievable concept, but The One makes it feel so believable. The characters are so lifelike, and that definitely makes the book incredibly engaging.

The One is definitely a nail biter. Many of the chapters end on a bit of a cliff-hanger and due to the alternating points of view you might not find out what happens to that character for quite a while. This was both the best and the worst. The best because it kept you hooked, desperate to know more. Worst because I had several days where I was up long past my bedtime reading it.

I loved The One from start to finish. It was completely unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and I highly recommend it!

Thanks for checking out my stop on this blog tour, be sure to check out the others for more reviews and other exciting posts!


ARC Review: Geekerella – Ashley Piston

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Release Date: April 4th 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Quirk Books
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

A sweet and funny retelling of Cinderella that I just adored from start to finish.

Synopsis:

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

 Review:

This is less likely to be a coherent review, and more likely to be a long rant about how much I loved this book. When I was growing up I loved the movie A Cinderella Story, which if you haven’t seen it is basically a modern retelling of Cinderella (the Disney version) in a modern way – the two characters are high school students who meet in an online college forum. If I thought I loved that movie, my love for this book is amplified a hundred times more.

Geekerella is sweet, funny, moving and just everything a story like this should be. The characters are wonderful – they’re real people dealing with real life situations. Elle has lost her father, she’s hoping to hold on to the memory of the one person she looked up to. Darien despite being famous is lonely, his fame alienating him from having any close relationships. The characters are fantastically written, and I loved them both so much.

The thing that makes Geekerella so special is the absolutely geekyness of it. There’s so many references to fandom culture – Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and everything in between, and each one of them Everyone has that one book series or television programme that they absolutely adore. For me it’s A Song of Ice and Fire, for Elle it’s Starfield – which if it was a real show I would totally watch. It’s wonderful to read a story set at a convention, something that is familiar and beloved of so many.

Geekerella takes a well known story and really puts a unique and charming spin on it. It definitely stands out from the many Cinderella retellings out there. It’s also geuninely funny, and has a really enjoyable absorbing plot. This book really speaks to all the geeks and fandom followers out there. I loved this book from start to finish, and now that I’m finished reading it I can of want to start from the beginning again.

*Also special mention to my favourite character Sage, who is just a total bad ass.


2016 Round Up – Favourite Reads!

This might be a little belated but seeing as the new year has started I thought I’d do a quite round up of my top 10 reads this year. So in no particular order:

278832141. Caraval – Stephanie Garber (coming January 31st 2017)
The magic and mystery of this absolutely gripped me. What’s real and what’s part of the game? I’m desperately waiting for book two in the series. Read my review of this gorgeous book here!


2. Frostblood – Elly Blake (coming January 10th 2017)27827203
Fire and ice have been at war for centuries, but with ice being the ruling class, Firebloods must fight to survive. Strong and firey Ruby swears revenge on the ice king and winds up getting a whole lot more in the bargain. This book is filled with action and magic. I absolutely loved it, and I just wanted to continue reading for ever and ever. Read my review of the stunning Frostblood here!

330201136. Geekerella – Ashley Piston (coming April 4th 2017)
When I was little I was absolutely obsessed with A Cinderella Story. A modern retelling of Cinderella with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray as teenagers who meet on an online forum. Although it was good, Geekerella is a hundred times better. Elle is a massive Starfield fan who enters a cosplay contest. Darien is a young actor taking on the major role in the Starfield reboot, but what happens when their worlds collide? I love this book. It’s so geeky and wonderfu
l (so many references!) It made me laugh so many times and I can’t wait to share my review with you all!

4. The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown (coming March 2nd 2017)31378911
This dark and compelling tale tells the story of Matthew Hopkins and his sister Alice. The story is a fictionalised account of the witch trials that resulted in the murder of one hundred and twenty seven women. The story is masterfully told, gripping you from start to finish. My review for this one will be coming soon, so stay tuned for that!

 307366775. What Alice Knew – T. A. Cotterell (released December 2016)
What would you do if you found one someone you loved committed a murder? How  far would you go to protect your family from the consequences of a single night? This taught thriller is wild ride, and was a big highlight of my 2016 books. You can read my full review of this one here!

6. The Outrun – Amy Liptrot (released January 2016)25351826
Right off the bat I’m going to say that I definitely don’t read enough non-fiction. So When I was asked to participate in a shadow panel for the non-fiction Saltire Society Awards, I absolutely jumped at the chance. There were some fabulous books, but this one was my favourite. Contrasting life as an alcoholic living in London with her childhood and current life in Orkney, The Outrun is a frank and beautiful piece of writing that has definitely encouraged me to pick up more non-fiction titles.

266254947. The Sleeping Prince – Melinda Salisbury (released May 2016)
I had never heard of The Sin Eater’s Daughter until I received an email asking if I’d like to participate in a blog tour for the second book in the series – The Sleeping Prince. I gave book one a whirl and absolutely fell in love. I devoured both The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince in days, and I’m so glad I got the chance to stumble upon this glorious series. I am now of course (not so) patiently waiting the release of Scarecrow Queen. You can read my review for The Sleeping Prince here!

8. The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johnanssen (released July 2014)18712887
My boyfriend picked this up for me in Waterstones, and what an excellent choice he made. Strong and powerful queens ruling the kingdom, magic, mystery, danger and a little spot of romance? It ticks all the boxes. There’s also an exciting movie soon to be released starring the wonderful Emma Watson, so now’s your chance to read it before the film! Review for this one also coming soon!

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9, A Thousand Nights – E. K. Johnston (released October 2015)
This little beauty is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. Sporting an absolutely glorious cover, the book is beautifully written and I absolutely loved it from start to finish. You can read my review here or you can check out my interview with the lovely author herself, here!

10. The Study Series  – Maria V. Snyder (Dawn Study coming January 2017)16130759
This one is technically cheating because it is more than one book, but I just had to mention it. The Study series is one of my absolute favourites, and so with the release of Night Study in January 2016 I decided to reread the whole series. If you haven’t checked it out you absolutely have to. Yelena and Valek will forever be two of my favourite characters. Now with the next book in the series Dawn Study coming at the end of the month (look out of my stop on the blog tour coming early February) now is the perfect time to check out this wonderful series!

Honorable mentions also go to Seige and Storm by Leigh Bardugo and The Blackout by Marc Elsberg. Thanks for checking out my top 10 reads, and here’s hoping 2017 brings just as many wonderful and exciting new books.