A Scroll of 2017 Releases That I’m Excited About

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I’ll update this post when more books are announced and release dates are changed as the year goes on


2017 promises so many new books especially diverse/Own Voices ones (yay!). Here’s a list of releases that I’m excited about:

January

Wayfarer (Alexandra Bracken): The sequel to the time travel/adventure book Passenger. Nicholas and Sophia team up to locate the missing Etta and the much sought after astrolabe that has been taken away in the first book. Release date: 3 January

Windwitch (Susan Dennard): The sequel to the epic fantasy Truthwitch. New alliances are formed, enemies and our heroes are working together. Release date: 10 January

History is All You Left Me (Adam Silvera): Griffin’s life is shaken when his first love and ex dies in an accident. He is tormented by the past, stopping himself from moving forward. Release date: January 17

Caraval (Stephanie Garber):  Two sisters enter a dangerous, magical game. Release date: January 31

Freeks (Amanda Hocking): I’m a sucker for carnival stories. The book centres on Mara whose home is a dark magical carnival. She meets a boy…and things start to go downhill with the carnival employees disappearing. Release date: January 31

February

King’s Cage (Victoria Aveyard): The sequel to the Red Queen series. Mare is under Maven’s wrath meanwhile the Reds continue to prepare for war and Cal tries to find a way to free Mare. Release date: February 7

Empress of A Thousand Skies (Rhoda Belleza): Empress Rhee is on a path of revenge. She wants to reclaim her throne and avenge her family. Release date: February 7

A Conjuring of Light (VE Schwab): Battles between the four Londons ensues in this third and final installment in the Shades of Magic series. Release date: February 21

The Ship Beyond Time (Heidi Heilig): The sequel to The Girl From Everywhere. Nix is now in charge of her future but when she discovers that she will lose a loved one, Nix and the crew travel to meet another Navigator who might help her. Release date: February 28

 

The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas): This book was inspired by Black Lives Matter and I’ve heard so many great reviews! It centres on Starr who witnesses the murder of her friend by a police officer. Release date: February 28

March

Traitor to the Throne (Alwyn Hamilton): The sequel to Rebel of the Sands. Gunslinger Amani gets close to the Sultan’s court in order to bring him down. Release date: March 7

The Bone Witch (Rin Chupeco): Tea resurrects her brother and discovers that she’s a bone witch, a witch with the power of necromancy – which doesn’t do her any favours in her community. She finds comfort in another bone witch who becomes her mentor. Release date: March 7

The Song Rising (Samantha Shannon): The third entry in the Bone Season series. Paige has become Underqueen and struggles to maintain the underworld, not to mention enemies and a new dangerous technology that would put the clairovoyant community at peril. Release date: March 7

A Crown of Wishes (Roshani Chokshi): The sequel to The Star-Touched Queen. Gauri teams up with her enemy king Vikram to reclaim her kingdom in exchange for her fighting skills. They enter the Tournament of Wishes and soon discover that there are more dangerous obstacles than they expected. Release date: March 28 

Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor): Obsessed with a mythical lost city, Lazlo Strange sets out to find answers. Release date: March 28

April

 

The Upside of Unrequited (Becky Albertalli): Molly is no stranger to unrequited love (same here, Molly). When her twin Cassie has a new girlfriend, Molly tries to find her courage to win over Cassie’s girlfriend’s sidekick. I hope this book has Oreos. Release date: April 11

May

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Jenny Han): The third entry in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series which I fell in love with last year. Lara Jean is in her senior year and continues to nagivate through her familial and romantic relationships. I’m looking forward to all the baking and sweet romance. Release date: May 2

Noteworthy (Riley Redgate): Jordan Sun is determined to get fame and auditions for her school’s  all-male a cappella Sharpshooters. Release date: May 2

How to Make a Wish (Ashley Herring Blake): Escaping from a crappy life, Grace goes on midnight adventures and finds solace and unexpected feelings when she meets Eva. Release date: May 2

A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J Maas): The third entry to the ACOTAR series. Feyre is in enemy territory to spy on Tamlin and his ally the King of Hybern as war is brewing. Release date: May 2

The Seafarer’s Kiss (Julia Ember): A F/F retelling of Little Mermaid with a bisexual mermaid as main character. Ersel rescues and befriends shieldmaiden Ragna, but is caught by her friend and suitor. Facing the consequences, Ersel seeks help and makes a deal with Loki, leading her to exile and learn to outsmart the god so she can be reunited with the human she has fallen for. Release date: May 4

Ramona Blue (Julie Murphy): With so many responsibilities, Ramona Blue aches for a bigger life outside of her home. When her childhood friend re-enters her life, she finds herself questioning her sexuality. Release date: May 9

Flame in the Mist (Renee Ahdieh): Set in feudal Japan, Mariko is ambushed and escapes from the Black Clan. She later sets out to infiltrate them to discover who’s responsible for the attack, but soon discovers more secrets which changes everything. Release date: May 16

The Crown’s Fate (Evelyn Skye): The sequel to The Crown’s Game. Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter but it’s not easy. A challenger steps forward, threatening her position and the Tsar Pasha’s kingdom. Release date: May 16

Lord of Shadows (Cassandra Clare): The sequel to Lady Midnight. Emma starts dating Mark to protect Julian from the consequences of falling in love with your parabatai. But the Unseelie King has enough of Shadowhunters’ laws which effects the Blackthorns. Release date: May 23

I Believe In a Thing Called Love (Maurene Goo): Straight A student Desi has never had a boyfriend. She’s terrible at romance but she tries to tackle her problems when she pursues the object of her affection Luca like he’s a school project. She learns romance through K-dramas but maybe love is more than that. Release date: May 30

 

When Dimple Met Rishi (Sandhya Menon): Dimple tries to break away from family/cultural traditions including finding the ideal husband and focus on her ambitions. Rishi is the opposite. He embraces tradition and wants his marriage to be arranged. Dimple and Rishi eventually clash… Release date: May 30

June

Tash Hearts Tolstoy (Kathryn Ormsbee): Tash is the creator of a web series, a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina which becomes nominated for an award. Her crush Thom is also a nominee – a window of opportunity to develop this crush into something more. That’s if she can tell him she’s asexual. Release date: June 6

Want (Cindy Pon): A refreshing dystopian novel where the rich are protected from disease via special suits and those who don’t have these suits suffer. Fed up with the injustice of it, Zhou infiltrates the wealthy in order to destroy the corporation behind the suits. Release date: June 13

Our Dark Duet (VE Schwab): The sequel to Our Savage Song. A new monster emerges, bringing monster hunter Kate back home. Release date: June 13

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzi Lee): Two friends are on their grand tour of Europe and discover a magical artifact that leads to a manhunt across the continent. Release date: June 27

September

Throne of Glass #6 (untitled at the moment) (Sarah J Maas): My darling Chaol deserves his own books. He is sent to the healers in Antica. There he discovers something that will change everything and becomes more vital to saving Erilea (something that should’ve been in Empire of Storms in my opinion). Release date: September 5

One Dark Throne (Kendare Blake): The sequel to Three Dark Crowns where the three sister queens continue to battle each other. Release date: September 13

 

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Leigh Bardugo): This is a collection of fairytales in the Grishverse and there will be illustrations by Sara Kipin! Release date: September 26

 

October

Warcross (Marie Lu): Two bounty hunters are hired to hunt down a hacker in a popular VR video game. Release date: October 3

27 Hours (Tristina Wright):  A group of teens fight for their homes and cultures against monsters, time and extiniction. Release date:

 

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Julie C. Dao): A Snow White retelling based on Asian mythology/folklore through the Evil Queen’s POV. Xifeng unleashes a sinister god on the world and her own vicious soul so she could become empress. Release date: October 10

 

 

 

 

November

Renegades (Marissa Meyer): This one comes out on my birthday! Renegades are a group of humans with special abilities and Nova hates them and wants revenge. Things take a drastic turn when she catches one of them Adrian’s attention. Release date: November 7

DecemBER

 

Immortal Reign (Morgan Rhodes): The sixth book in the Falling Kingdom series. Enemies become allies in order to save the world as two dangerous gods set out to destroy it. Release date: December 12

A Book With Everything I Wanted: A Review on WANT

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Title: WANT

Author: Cindy Pon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse

Release date: June 2017

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Wow. This book blew me away beyond the blurb and cover. Definitely worth the wait and hype. WANT follows Jason Zhou who infiltrates the elite you to destroy the source of their luxurious lives and the miserable lives of meis like Jason – Jin Corp and its creator Jin himself.

From beginning to end, the plot with refreshing twists to sci-fi dystopian tropes, the characters and writing hooked me in. So did the food mentioned every now and then. God, this book made me hungry.

Just when I thought I was tired of tattooed male characters, Jason Zhou made me feel all warm and fuzzy. He can be dangerous but he’s such a softie and loyal to his late mother and friends. Speaking of his friends, they’re squad goals. Despite the banter and arguments, they stay together and fight through obstacles, not to mention that they’re diverse Asians with different strengths and flaws. My only complaint: not enough of Lingyu, Iris, Victor and Arun. Hopefully they have more page time in the sequel.

Daiyu can be sweet, naïve and have all the traits of a you, but she’s full of surprises. She’s not a damsel in distress or just a love interest or pawn in Jason’s mission. Meanwhile her dad is a villain who really boils up my blood. He’s a man in a suit who knows his power and twists a tragedy to benefit himself. I can’t wait for his downfall.

Anyway, make WANT your number one read this year.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

#PimpMyBio

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It’s July and that means Pitch Wars is coming up soon. This year I’m going to take a chance and enter [nervously sweating].

Let me introduce myself to potential mentors and fellow participants/writers.

  • My name is Natalia. You can call me Natty or Nat.
  • I grew up and live in a city called Sydney, a 3 hour flight away from Middle-Earth (New Zealand) – yeap, I’ve been there and visited Hobbiton too.
  • Age: I’m getting old…in my 20s
  • Graduated uni with a BA in English last year
  • Did a lot of internships including one at Pantera Press, an Australian publisher
  • Currently blogging about books and working in the children’s/YA department at a bookstore
  • YA and fantasy are my specialities. And I’m all for Own Voices and diverse representation.
  • The book that made me a serial reader and a serious writer at 17 is…Twilight. Yeah, I said it.
  • My nerdy tastes are pretty diverse. From Lord of the Rings to Sailor Moon to Disney to historical docos
  • My TBR is endless. It’s a monster that haunts me every minute of every day.
  • I’m a Ravenclaw. I was initially Sorted into Slytherin, but then I forgot my Pottermore password and had to do the Sorting again.

On the book I’m considering entering with, it started as my project for NaNoWrimo in 2015. It’s YA fantasy involving time loops, time travel, mythical monsters and a protagonist with a saviour complex. I drew inspiration from Sailor Moon, Indonesian mythology – to be specific, Balinese, Wayang kulit (Indonesian shadow puppets), Doctor Who and my own multicultural upbringing.

I’ve had a couple of CPs and a mentor who all helped me shape the story up and after countless revisions and tears, I’m happy with it. I’ve pitched my novel through Twitter pitch contests and got likes from agents, a full request and a partial one.

While I’m waiting and there’s Pitch Wars coming up, I thought “why not?”. Pitch Wars might be an unexpected valuable experience I could learn from and I’m also hoping to make friends.

Thank you for reading!

June Wrap Up

June is over and we’re in the last half of the year. Are you freaking out? I am [laughing with tears face emoji]. Here’s a rundown on my June:

Monthly TBR

My Top reads

The One Who Ascended the Throne: Our Dark Duet (VE Schwab)

The Runner Up, the Heir: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Jenny Han)

The Third is a Charming Mediator: Milk and Honey (Rupi Kaur)

The Noble Fourth Who Deserves the Praise and Loyalty from the People: The Crown’s Fate (Evelyn Skye)

The Bonus Fifth because I Read Several Good Books This Month: Four Sisters (Helen Rappaport) – if you’re a Romanov/Russian imperial family fan like me, you would like this

Mini Reviews

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Our Dark Duet is a satisfying end to the Monsters of Verity series. It’s an easy and quick read that hooks you in…and cry.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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The Barrier is an interesting disease-caused post-apocalyptic book with a twist – religion and mythology, in particular Hindu, plays a part in it. However, I wasn’t drawn to the characters and I’m tired of white saviours and poc characters having stereotypical roles – the token friend, the one who sacrifices themselves, the villains or terrorist suspect. Seeing Sri Lankan characters being subservient to the white characters made me uncomfortable. Asia and Africa being ground zero for disasters and pandemics is also annoyingly overused. Maybe it would’ve been better if the protagonist was poc. I have enough of white protagonists overcoming their prejudices and learning how racist their society or company are.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

Writing

I participated in some Twitter pitch contests in June and in one of them, my pitches were liked by agents. So I’m in the waiting stage, sweating, worrying and tearing up a little [dying laughter]. Buttttt I’ve been busying myself with a new WIP.

In case you missed it, I’ve opened up beta reading and sensitivity reading services. Click here if you need another pair of eyes for your manuscript.

July Anticipated Reads

I’m looking forward to reading WANT by Cindy Pon and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee (both are already out)!

Til next time,

Natalia xoxo

Happily Ever After: A Review on Always and Forever, Lara Jean

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Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Author: Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Release date: May 2017

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Why is so hard to write a good review? I’m struggling to say anything beyond “OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK!” about  Always and Forever, Lara Jean. The conclusion to the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series follows up with Lara Jean Song Covey in the days leading up to her high school graduation. She faces problems and anxiety over her future, e.g. colleges, the changes in her relationships and there’s Peter, her boyfriend.

I was sucked back into Lara Jean’s world and that feeling of life wrecking your plans for the future and changes in relationships was so relatable. I’m in that place, even after university/college and getting a job in my dream field. It really doesn’t go away, to be honest.

The Song Covey family continues to bring warmth into my heart, though I didn’t like Ms Rothschild much. I found her detached and just…I didn’t care about her. And of course, I didn’t want the family to lose their connection to Korean culture, considering that the book has some glimpses of that culture and, to be honest, a majority of white characters. Glad Lara Jean and the family acknowledged that. I need more scenes with their Korean grandmother by the way. She’s too awesome to be a side character.

Lara Jean and Peter K. What can I say? I was worried about them breaking up. If you ask me what was one thing that made me stay reading the book, I would say them and the unknown future threatening to separate them. They HAVE to stay together and wow, did they put me on a roller coaster of feels. Even though it was relatable (Lara Jean being an introvert and close to her family like me), I did think that Lara Jean’s views on relationships are her mother and sister Margo’s views (which effected her relationship with Peter), but she eventually makes her own decisions.

Lara Jean baking is another thing that hooked me. I swear this book makes me hungry. I’m still sad that the cover doesn’t have cookies or cake or any food!

Always and Forever, Lara Jean finished with a nice and romantic ending that made me feel nostalgic and hopeful for the future.

Rating:

An Enchanting End: Review on The Crown’s Fate and a Mini Spotlight on Russia

 

 

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Title: The Crown’s Fate

Author: Evelyn Skye

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release date: May 2017

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Привет (privet)! Enchanting to the end, The Crown’s Fate follows up on Vika who continues her duty as Imperial Enchanter and Nikolai, who is dealing with the aftermath of his death. He manages to leave limbo and return to the world but as a shadow. In order to take solid form and set his revenge on his best friend and future Tsar Pasha (who ended the Game in the first book which led to Vika’s almost death and Nikolai’s), Nikolai absorbs heaps of energy even dark energy to become powerful.

Nikolai becomes a dangerous threat to Pasha and the empire, and Vika has to stop him. But she faces a tough decision: should she save Nikolai or kill him?

From the beautiful writing to the character development, I enjoyed everything from this book. It wastes no time in building up the plot and stakes. The only things I disliked were: the final battle which was short and even though I loved the inclusion of Russian folklore creatures, their presence was limited (I get that would interfere with the plot). I hope there’s some spin-off or short story where Vika and Nikolai deal with these creatures’ threats.

Russian fairytale character: Vasilisa the Beautiful

There were also references to The Nutcracker which I went all heart eyes at. The magic was hauntingly beautiful and did give off a Russian vibe – and something to be scared of.

Having Nikolai as the villain, twisted by dark magic and his undead mother, hooked me in. Despite the trope, I found it refreshing and a little worrying since Nikolai is the only poc character besides his mother. I was hoping for a redeeming resolution.

The relationship between Nikolai and Vika tore me apart. I liked how they both wanted each other but their goals/duty came first. I found Pasha kind of useless and annoying, but I did eventually warm up to him. Towards the end.

The ending was satisfying and I cried that it was all over. Duologies don’t really suit me, but The Crown’s Fate is a шедевр, a masterpiece.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟


A Mini Spotlight on Russia

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Romanov Faberge Imperial Egg

 

Since I was little, I have a special spot for Russia and its culture. I love how diverse the culture and people are – something most people don’t know about. Traces of European and Asian cultures are fused together. The Russian language is beautiful, but challenging. I only know the basics. The clothes and the Romanovs remain fascinating subjects for me.

I love that The Crown’s Game duology explores Russia and its culture beyond what we westerners already know. Ethnic groups, in particular the Kazakhs (Nikolai is one) have a presence. The books don’t sugarcoat the tension or the oppression these people face and that shapes Nikolai’s character. Russia being an Eurasian country and home to many ethnic groups including non-Slavic ones is one of my interests, so I’m glad that the books acknowledge these people – though I wish there were more underrepresented groups besides the Kazakhs.

Russian folklore has always enchanted me with its haunting-ness and beautiful, mesmerising scenes. It’s quite different from the fairytales and mythologies I grew up with. My favourites include Vasilisa the Beautiful, The Three Kingdoms, Golden, Silver and Copper and of course every tale that has the Firebird.

 

Books I recommend

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If you love or interested in reading Russian books, I recommend War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It’s a lengthy and popular one but worth the read. There’s also Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin and The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya.

If you’re looking for a Russian fairytale retelling, I recommend Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. It’s a modern Vasilisa and Baba Yaga retelling filled with beautiful weirdness and an evil talking doll as the main character’s companion. There’s also Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series which is set in a Russian-inspired world and has several mythical elements including the Firebird.

Спасибо за прочтение!