NEVERMOOR - by Jessica Townsend

NEVERMOOR - Jessica Townsend
Published: October 2017 - Orion's Children's Books.
Genre: Middle grade / fantasy / adventure
Pages: 384.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Very mild fantasy violence.
Format: ARC hardcover.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Enter the Wundrous world of Morrigan Crow and Nevermoor - the most fantastical children's release of the year.Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart - an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests - or she'll have to leave the city and confront her deadly fate once and for all.

I think I first heard of Nevermoor when it was mentioned on Twitter, but apart from that I knew nothing about the book. I don't usually read MG, either.
But this turned out to be one of those review books that I'm so grateful I was given the chance to read.

I love the writing. It's simplistic and easy to read while at the same time never talking down to children - which is the age it's aimed at. The scenes are incredibly vivid, the descriptions beautiful and immersive, and the atmosphere is strong and colourful. Yes, the story has its similarities to Harry Potter, but it manages to stand on its own two feet and stay charming and fresh. It's lovely - with huge heart and energy.
The dialogue is a real standout, too. It's deliciously hilarious and witty, and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as well.

The plot is strong. The pacing is perfect, and the action scenes and quieter moments are superbly interspersed. I loved every moment of this adventure. It is so imaginative and spellbinding, and the fun never stops. The climax, especially, is so satisfying. Townsend has incredible skill.

"Step boldly, Morrigan Crow."

The characters are compelling and vivid. Jupiter reminds me so much of the Eleventh Doctor (in Doctor Who) because of his personality (which is fantastically three dimensional, wacky, and lovable) and the secondary cast easily outshine Morrigan, the heroine. Everyone is so colourful and interesting, and I also adore the strong - platonic - friendships and relationships. They're excellent and healthy.
The villain is also terrifying - perfectly so. His relationship with Morrigan is a bit too much like that of Voldemort and Harry's, but it still works.

The only thing about the characters I feel is lacking is Morrigan. She's sweet and easy to root for, but her character needs more development and personality. She's too much of a stereotypical unloved little girl who wants to belong. In my opinion, it's the secondary cast who are better written.

Nevermoor is a riveting debut sparkling with magic, imagination, and humour. The characters are rich, the plot never wavers, and it's a charming and well-developed adventure. 

HEART OF THE FAE (The Otherworld #1) - by Emma Hamm

Published: December 2017 - Emma Hamm
Genres: Fairy tale retelling / romance / fantasy
Pages: 368.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Fantasy violence and mild gore, sexual innuendo, and a scene of very strong, erotic sexual content.
Format: eARC.
Source: Thank you so much to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Beauty and the Beast meets Irish Mythology in this sweeping retelling of the beloved fairytale.... Once upon a time… A plague sweeps across the emerald hills of Uí Néill, leaving a young midwife’s father with months to live. To save her people, Sorcha makes a deal with a dangerous Fae. She must travel across the sea, through merrow and kelpie lands, to find a forgotten king on a crumbling throne. Born king of the Seelie Fae, Eamonn fought battles unnumbered to uphold honor, duty, and freedom… until his twin brother sank a blade between his shoulders. Crystals grew from the wound, splitting open skin and bone. His people banished him to a cursed isle for his disfigurement, now king of criminals and fools. With the help of brownies, pixies, and will-o’-the-wisps, Sorcha battles to break through his crystalline shell and persuade him to take back his stolen throne. This determined beauty could come dangerously close to stealing his beastly heart...

I buddy-read this book with my amazing squad: Di @ Book Reviews By Di and Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers. Go check out Di's review here and Uma's review here.

A few months ago I read Emma Hamm's debut novel, Silver Blood. I still haven't gotten round to reading the rest of the series, but I adored Silver Blood and, needless to say, was thrilled to read Hamm's latest novel.

The writing is stunning. Hamm has improved so much since Silver Blood days. I just love her easy-to-read, passionately flowing style, and the descriptions are also magnificent. The island, the castle, and all the places Sorcha visits are gorgeously well imagined, with rich language and immersive sensory details. Then atmosphere is strong, the culture is fresh, and it's simply a beautiful setting. I love it.

The pacing is off. It's extremely rushed, and that makes the whole story feel disjointed, vague, and hard to follow. I wish the scenes could've been expanded upon and deepened.
The feminism is forced. Sorcha is so obviously a "woman in a man's world" but we're constantly reminded of that and it's tiring and frustrating. It's also preachy. I'm a feminist myself, but when feminism is written into books it only really works if it comes through naturally.  On the nose feminist dialogue doesn't help, either - characters' actions should speak louder than their words, if they need words at all.

The plot needs more refining. It's not as strong as it could be, and especially towards the end the incidents feel random and rushed. Overall, it just needs more work. I also wish Hamm had taken more liberties with the original fairytale; I feel like she played it way too safe. I would've liked to have seen the characters suffer more, and have the story break out of the confines of the road it was carefully treading.

"I never wanted poetry," she said on a soft sigh. "I only wanted a man who could see me for who I am."

The characters need more fleshing out. Their personalities are all-over-the-place, and their character arcs are half-finished and weak. I just couldn't connect to anyone.
But I do love the secondary characters - Eamonn's castle "inmates" like Cian and Pixie are very endearing and charming. They're fantastic.

The romance did not work for me. For those of you who love Sarah J. Maas, I'm sure you'll love Eamonn and Sorcha's love affair, but I personally could not enjoy it.
Eamonn is your brooding alpha male, more beast than man, and his violence - animalness - comes across domineering and abusive, rather than romantic. Biting your partner till they bleed is not what I call love - both Eamonn and Sorcha do this to each other. And she even admits she's frightened of him, which certainly isn't love. Eamonn will also say thing like "Now is not a good time to say no to me, Sorcha" and "You shouldn't be with me because I'm dangerous", and frankly I have no patience for men like it.
I did not like the romance.

Heart of the Fae is a beautifully written story with stunning imagery and tangible scenes. But the characters are weak and underdeveloped, the pacing way too rushed, and the romance unhealthy. 

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and writing

It's a very short round-up today because I'm in a rush, so sorry about that! I have to go out this evening :(

Anyway. I've been writing a lot this week and I've spent a lot of time doing school and studying. But next week I've only got a few school things to finish up and sort, and then I'll be done for the term. YAY! 

You also may have noticed I've had a partial blog makeover ;) I added another sidebar (which I desperately needed) and changed a few things with my header as well. Please let me know what you think! 

Posts of the week:

I am loving Nevermoor. It's such a beautiful, magical story. 

They've been dating for a whole year, which in Hollywood terms is a long time.

Law will be starring opposite Brie Larson, who plays the title character in the movie that's scheduled for release in 2019. I am so excited to see these two in their roles!! 

So I hit 50k for NaNo on the 24th, and now I'm just rushing to get the story finished by the end of November. Whoop!! 

Happy holidays for some of you! Hope you had a good week? What are you reading and watching at the moment? 

Romanticised Abuse

A "bad boy" is possibly one of the most popular male stereotypes in fiction today. They're the anti-heroes who are usually handsome, mysterious, and dangerous. It's also those qualities that make them the desired male characters they are.

Today, on The International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, I've decided to write this post to draw attention to the shocking increase of violence against women in films, books, and TV shows. I'll also be discussing how that violence - and abuse - is being normalised. It's a topic I feel very passionately about, and I encourage you to comment below and share your own thoughts, as well.

Trigger Warning: This post contains descriptions/mentions of rape and abuse.

 "use something (someone) to bad effect or bad purpose; misuse"
 "treat with cruelty or violence"
(Oxford Dictionary)

- Chuck Bass (Gossip Girl

Chuck is Gossip Girl's bad boy turned romantic hero, although he never once loses that dark edge that the writers - and the viewers - apparently thought was sexy. But not only does Chuck stalk and constantly objectify women - sexualising them in almost every episode - but he even attempts to rape both Serena and Jenny in the pilot episode, and not once stops emotionally abusing Blair or manipulating her. He mentions Blair's sexual activities in public to embarrass her, he spitefully declares a Fatwa on her so that no one else can date her when he's unable to, and he even tries to trade her over to his uncle to get back his hotel. He then tries to make her believe it's her fault! 

There is also the manipulative way the writers have written him. When the whole incident - Chuck's attempted rape of Jenny - with Jenny was brought up again (2 SEASONS AFTER IT HAPPENED) she was painted as the bad guy because the writers were too obsessed with keeping Chuck as their romantic male hero and didn't want to jeopardise his storyline with Blair. Jenny's own family shipped her off to live with her mom in another city, and she promptly left the show. If we can't see her, apparently we can't care about her. And apparently, we must forget she even existed. 

The writers' love for Chuck knows no bounds. Just when it looks like he might be cast in a bad light,  the writers will victimise him again (like when he gets shot not long after the whole Jenny incident is made public), and it's as if they're redeeming him. It's like the writers are terrified that the viewers will hate Chuck again, so they get him mugged and shot and now we can't help but feel sorry for him again. It's revolting. 

You can read more about Chuck's behaviour here and here.  

- Edward Cullen (The Twilight Saga) 

Most people today see Edward Cullen for who he really was: a sexist, controlling, possessive, stalker and abusive love interest. He stalked Bella, he controlled who she saw, who she visited, who she was friends with, and he didn't even let her make her own decisions. Bella is nothing if not with Edward; she has no life outside of him, and I shouldn't have to point out the red flags in such a dynamic. 

- Christian Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey

Christian Grey is the worst of the worst. He's misogynistic, controlling, perverted, violent, unstable, sadistic, and a narcissistic stalker and abuser. He doesn't take no for an answer, he controls Ana from her clothes to her physical health to the people she sees to the food she eats, and he gets away with it because he's good looking, wealthy, and a victim of a harsh upbringing. His possessiveness of Ana is simply thought of as protectiveness. Never mind that she's literally afraid of him, right? 

And don't get me started on E.L. James' portrayal of what is supposedly BDSM. Long story short: It's not. It's abuse. Consent doesn't play a part in Christian and Ana's relationship. 

Read more about Fifty Shades and Christian Grey here.

- Damon Salvatore (The Vampire Diaries

I used to love Damon and ship Delena. Granted, it was before I ever watched TVD, but they looked like a hot couple. Only when I finally sat down and watched all eight seasons of the show, I couldn't ignore his actions. 

Damon Salvatore does despicable things and yet no one is allowed to make him face the consequences because he's the swoony anti-hero and #Delena is canon. His relationship with Elena is toxic (he literally says so himself in season 6!), he objectifies women and takes delight in making them feel intimidated and uncomfortable (not to mention feeding off of them and having sex with them while they're compelled to be complicit), he rapes three women that we know of, rapes and abuses Caroline Forbes (yet Caroline is the one everyone blames; Elena even shames her for sleeping with Damon), and not once is he held responsible for his actions. As soon as he becomes the Good Guy, his past behaviour is forgotten. As soon as he's considered redeemable by the other characters, they'll do whatever it takes to give him a second - or third or fourth or fifth or tenth - chance, regardless of the damage left in his wake. It's horrific.  

Read more on Damon's problematic behaviour here and here. I also wrote a separate post on Damon's treatment of Caroline here.

I cannot understand why women will swoon over and idealise a guy who undercuts their value and rights as a human being. It's the very opposite of feminism; and it's insulting and offensive to women. Who would want to be the property of another fallible, broken human being? Who would want to be afraid of their partner, or to have him take away her right to choose?

And please. This is 2018. I've lost track of the times a woman has been kidnapped, or raped, or beaten around on screen to further a man's story. Writers, do better.  Please. 

Violence against women 
There is no, no case where violence against women is okay. BSDM is another story and I won't go there, but violence against women should ever be the norm and consent should always play a big role in the situation. Sarah J. Maas’ books, for example, have extremely violent sexual scenes where the characters are often left literally bleeding, bruised, and in pain. You could say that that violence is the norm for those characters and that world, but should violence - especially against women - ever be the norm? Those violent relationships are called sexy in Maas’ books. That doesn't sit right with me.

There's also the fact that violence against women is almost always sexual in nature when it's shown in TV shows, and sensationalised way more than violence against men. It's horrifying to watch. Violence against women in TV shows can so easily be dubbed entertainment, and it makes me sick.

Love him enough and he'll change
A women should never be responsible for getting a man to change his ways. The misconception is utterly absurd. It's also why I've never liked the Beauty and the Beast fairytale - Belle has no obligation to save him, and yet the story expects it of her. Also consider the Joker and Harley Quinn. Harley is constantly being beaten up/tormented by him, and she blames it on herself while the story lets her do it. With that relationship, too, there is underlying element that she's there to "help him change". In The Vampire Diaries, Stefan even admits to Elena that she stops Damon from killing people and that she should go back to him because she helps him not to kill people! I mean, excuse me?!

Women are not rehabilitation centres for men. Stop ordering us to stick with someone who treats us like trash and then claim that love can excuse all wrongs.

It is not your job to save him. It is never anyone's responsibility to change his or her abuser. And in this fallen world, God is the only one who can.

The excuse of the "strong woman"
I see this in YA books all the time. Have a badass heroine - think Feyre from ACOTAR, Aurora from Roar, or even Blair from TV's Gossip Girl - and suddenly violence against women is cool and guys are allowed to be jerks. In Roar, Aurora is what most people would probably call a strong heroine, and yet she's in toxic, abusive relationships where men use her, abuse her, and she doesn't run in the opposite direction. (Read this article for more on Roar)

Even Harley Quinn is supposed to be this strong, awesome, quirky superhero, but then we have her and Joker's incredibly toxic and abusive relationship. The characters might be well written, but the abuse inflicted on Harley should not be acceptable just because she can return the Joker's punches. (Read more on their relationship here). It's like saying "it's okay if you're being abused because you're returning the abuse." It's twisted, to say the least.

Having a female character implicitly say "I can handle it" does not make the abuse inflicted upon her okay. The guy should still not be doing those things, however badass and supposedly independent the woman is.

Past doesn't matter 
This happens so much, especially in TV shows and films. In the pilot episode of Gossip Girl, Chuck Bass attempts to rape two of the main female characters. One of the incidents was actually addressed (although it was handled so badly and deserves to have another whole blog post written on it) but the second incident was never mentioned again. That incident was even more explicit than the incident that was actually brought up. Apparently, the male character's bad behaviour was excusable, his story arc more important, and the female characters' pain dismissible.

Again, this happens in the Vampire Diaries where in season one Damon Salvatore rapes and abuses Caroline Forbes. When Damon becomes a "good guy", the incident is forgotten. Not once does he even admit or apologise for his actions - even when Caroline eventually marries his brother. The story chooses to favour his character, sweep under the rug his crimes, and bypass Caroline's suffering completely.

People can change. It is possible. But I strongly believe that they still need to be held accountable for their actions and face justice. When their behaviour is swept under the rug and ignored, the effects are horrific. There's a quote from American Horror Story that makes a strong point: "Sorrys are easy. What about taking responsibility for the things you've done?"
To that I say: Amen.

Violence against women makes a story 
So often, I think violence against women is used a plot device. It's like writers and producers think they have a story if at least one woman gets beaten around. Violence against women is extremely real, but don't glamorise it in your TV show and then fail to show it for what it is.

I think Game of Thrones is frequently guilty for graphically depicting rape and then failing to provide proper sensitivity in the aftermath. It's glossed over. It's a "plot device" or a means to an end for a male character's story, when it's actually a woman who suffered the assault. It's also sensationalised, the violence against women often there to elicit an arousal from the viewer. There's a sick, messed up reason why it's typically the female characters who are kidnapped, held hostage, and are used as liabilities: the writers see violence against women as entertainment.

 If he's hot, then it's okay 
If Christian Grey from Fifty Shades or Tamlin from ACOTAR were old, ugly men with no money to their name, would fans still swoon? No. And they'd probably call out the abuse and perversion for what it is, I'm sure. There's a quote from Catherine Steadman's book Something in the Water that makes a good point about this issue: "I suppose, at the end of the day, if you're not good-looking, you don't get away with being a bad boy. You just get called a thug."
How painfully true is that?

Unfortunately, writers and producers know this so well that they've become experts at disguising abusive behaviour and sexism under good looks, lots of money, and swoony one-liners. It's terrifying, because so many times - like with Damon or Chuck - I've found myself subconsciously ignoring their bad deeds and falling under their spell. Isn't it horrifying that writers can manipulate us like that?

We have a duty to be more vigilant.

"It's just a book." 

"It's just a film." 

The thing is, it's not. It's something that happens in real life on a daily basis, and what these shows and books are doing is romanticising that very real abuse. Fifty Shades, The Vampire Diaries, etc etc, have huge, cult-like fandoms where the behaviour of good looking men like Grey or Damon is idealised by swooning teenage girls because the violence is shown to be sexy. It's affecting real life, too, because the abuse in these stories is so heavily glamorised that women often don't recognise the signs of an toxic relationship until it's too late. Or they're told that staying in a volatile relationship is the right thing to do for their partner. Or that their partner not letting them go outside is simply loving protectiveness. Or that they are worth nothing but the opinion and influence of the men in their lives.

It's sick cycle. It's dangerous. It scares me, because while we live in a society where women are objectified and abused daily, media and literature call that abuse romantic. They favour male characters, men's stories, and romanticise misogynistic behaviour. It's a domino effect that perpetrates real life.

Thus, I think we need a response. Not because this content is new, or because #MeToo is finally a thing, but because it's getting excused in media. It shouldn't be hard to call out romanticised abuse for what it is and rid our screens and books of such messages - at least, not if enough people do so. We need to cleanse our influences; we need to see and appreciate healthy, respectful relationships; women need to be told that they are worth so much more than how their man treats them; we need to see a man get punished when he rapes a woman, not redeemed.

Abuse is, tragically, a part of our lives. But there is something seriously wrong when it gets romanticised.

Other Sources: 
- When Violence is Romantic: How the Media Portrays Abusive Relationships
- Why Do We Idolize Abusive Relationships in the Media
It's Not Romantic to Romanticise Abusive Relationships

Let's discuss.

 Are their any other characters you can think of whose abusiveness is romanticised? Do you agree that bad boys often cross the line? Do you wish that more people noticed this and stood against it? 

The Blog Squad: Part 29

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions. 


Would you read a book that no/few reviews? 

Absolutely - it’s difficult for indie authors to get readers and to get those first few reviews in! I’ll especially pick up the book if it’s an author that I know and I am interested in the author/plot/premise/all of the above.

I’m pretty sure I’ve read many books that had few reviews of Goodreads and I think I’ve read books with no reviews on Goodreads at least 2 times. I think this was mostly when I first started my book blog. Even now, I’m definitely not against reading books with few reviews but now that I’m drowning in review copies and ARCs, I don’t have a choice but to prioritize the order in which I read books. But if i come across a book that has few reviews but a very intriguing premise, I would definitely pick it up!

Do book covers matter?

As readers I think we can all be a bit superficial when it comes to book covers! I love pretty books! So if it’s an author I don’t know, a book I haven’t heard of before or if I'm browsing the library/bookstore - YES, the cover definitely matters because that’s what I see first and what first draws me to pick up the book and check out what it’s about. But that being said, if it’s a known author or something that’s being buzzed about then the cover doesn’t make a difference to me. For example there was a HUGE uproar about the latest Throne of Glass book cover, but honestly? It could have been plain black and only had the title and Sarah J Maas written on it and I would have bought it and read it and definitely loved it. The content matters the most.

I’d like to say they definitely don’t but they kind of do! I don’t judge a book by it’s cover per se. A ‘meh’ cover won’t stop me from picking up a book with a great premise. But I admit I have made quite a few cover buys. What I’m trying to say is, when I’m at a bookstore to pick up a new read and can’t afford the time to look through every book, I’m going to be picking up the books that catch my eye. If I read the back cover and decide it is definitely not for me, I put it back in the shelves; but my point is, it’s the eye catching covers I’m going to be picking up in the first place unless I’m there looking for a particular book. And I think this is true for many people but it’s sort of a thing we don’t generally admit out loud!

Do series covers matter?

I like my series covers to match! I like to have the same series of pictures throughout, and for this reason I don’t like buying physical books until they’ve all been published. I mean, what if I owned the first three Game of Thrones covers all in their original edition covers and then I had to go and get the next one in a different cover set? I would be sad. It’s for this reason that I just prefer box sets. I’m just OCD like that.

Not really. I mean it’s nice when covers match and I can take beautiful pictures for my bookstagram BUT the world won’t end if my covers don’t match. And there are more important things. For example, recently Sabaa Tahir worked with the publishers to change the covers of her Ember series. The previous covers were gorgeous but Tahir wanted to showcase the diversity within her book on the cover but having the faces of people of color on it. While I love the old covers and am not a huge fan of real people on covers, I have NO complaint. Diversity and representation is far more important that the aesthetics of my bookstagram posts. I’m going to buy the new editions because I want to support her decision and the need for representation in books and yes, even the book covers. As a brown girl myself, it is empowering to see a brown girl on the cover of a book I love so much <3

Come check out my answers over at their collab posts!: 

 We hope you’ve enjoyed Part 28 in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

Weekly Round-Up: Writing and watching

Another busy week, but overall it was fine. I hit 30k for NaNo, and started watching Doctor Who again (on season 6 at the moment, and can we please just talk about how ABSOLUTELY SQUAD GOALS Eleven, Amy, and Rory are???!! Seriously, those three are magic together. I wish they could always be the Doctor and companions). 

Oh, and in other news, I've had to delete my Blog Roll in the sidebar because of space, etc (long story). But I've made a page you can find here where I've listed some of my favourite blogs. I'm still in the process of adding to it. 

Posts of the week: 

Still buddy-reading Heart of the Fae, and this week I also started Nevermoor :)

I am super excited about these books! I've heard so much about Lee Child's (and my Mum is a HUGE fan, so guess who grabbed the book to read it first?) and I'm also ecstatic to finally start The Mortal Instruments series. This is the 10th anniversary edition of City of Bones, so I really feel privileged to be able to start Clare's famous series with this copy <3

Lauryn talks IngramSpark vs Amazon for authors

Uma reviews The City of Brass

Emily talks Classics

I admit I'm not that excited about this sequel, mainly because it's been years since I read Harry Potter and I don't remember ever loving it. But I am excited to see Jude Law in the role of Dumbledore - I never thought I'd actually feel like swooning at the sight of that particular wizard... ;)

Starring Zac Efron, Zendaya, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Hugh Jackson, this movie looks and sounds amazing. 

I am not a horror movie fan, but I love Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (as actors, as a couple) and I can't wait to see how they work together in this film. 

I'm actually not so against this as everyone else seems to be. Depends on who they cast, though. 

Here's another short, unedited excerpt from my NaNo novel: 

How's your week been? What have you watched or read? 

5 books I'm looking forward to! // part 2

I just HAD to do a part 2. It's kind unfair that there are so amazing books in the world that I haven't read, but at least I can drool over them - even if I can't buy them. Oh, and won't you agree that 2017 has been an amazing year for debuts? There honestly seems to be so many incredible new authors taking the spotlight. It's awesome.

In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity "Pity" Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She's been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great.... In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity's struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful. But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy. The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list. One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals. Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope. In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she's not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe. When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who's been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart's sister, Cress. Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become queen.

Are you excited to read any of these books as well? Are there any you've already read - if so, what did you think of them?