Anticipated 2020 reads

It is that time, my dear witches. The new decade is upon us. And with it, many wonderful books! Who’s excited, it meee! But also not. I have my GCSEs next year which…isn’t great…

So I’ve divided the post into January releases, February releases, March releases, and then a few more for the rest of the year. This is because it HURTS to think how long I have to wait for books releasing then, so I try to keep them off my radar for now. I think I might do anticipated releases quarterly? Perhaps…but let’s get right in!

January

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Woven in Moonlight: A lush tapestry of magic, romance and revolución, inspired by Bolivian politics and history! I just recently finished it and would absolutely recommend it, it was wonderful, YA fantasy at it’s best and most rich. Gotta get writing that review tho… :/

Throne of Swans: I’ve just started this one, but it’s a soaring story about a land where nobles can shift into birds and a princess who is struggling with her inability to transform, in a YA twist on Swan Lake.  I think this is gonna be pretty damn good!

Beyond the Shadowed Earth:  Fierce and unapologetically power-hungry badass anti-hero main character who has to reclaim her soul from the gods? Sign me the hell up. I’m so excited about this one.

Dark and Deepest Red: A retelling of the Red Shows centred around Latinx, queer main characters across two timelines? I am SO DAMN hyped for this. I was really hoping a book box would feature it, but it looks like I’ll be preordering!

Blood Countess: I was lucky enough to WIN an ARC so I’m gonna read this one as soon as I have the time! It’s a queer historical YA about Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess or Lady Dracula, and the scullery maid who is seduced by her. This book sounds like it was written for me!

Foul is Fair: I am SO excited for this feminist revenge story loosely inspired by Macbeth, about an unapologetically angry, fierce girl who is determined to make the boys who assaulted her pay. I’ve literally been screaming about this for months, and I cannot WAIT for it to come out.

The Sky is Mine: A beautiful and timely story about feminism, friendship and sexual assault. I plan to preorder this ASAP.

Honourable mentions:

February

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The Mercies: Kiran Millwood Hargrave returns with more fabulous, feminist, magical content in her debut adult novel! A Norwegian island inhabited only by women, until a sinister figure arrives and thinks to take down the matriarchy, inspired by the real story of the Vardø witch trials. I just KNOW I’m going to love this one, so you all should check it out!

The Sisters Grimm: A fierce, feminist story about four women and the stories that bind them together.

The Hand on the Wall: I am SO EXCITED for this one I may cry. The final instalment in the Truly Devious saga and the stakes are higher than ever. I literally CANNOT WAIT I need this NOW!

Yes No Maybe So: From the much- loved Becky Albertali and introducing Aisha Saeed, an cross-cultural, political rom-com about two teens canvassing their neighbourhood together. I love Becky’s books and I just know this is going to be loads of fun.

Honourable Mentions:

 

March:

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Havenfall: What I know about this book: An immersive, unique fantasy. A stunning cover. A bi love triangle. And no, I do not need to know anything else.

Chain of Gold: Okay so, Cassie Clare is a QUEEN and I’m excited to read about my faves children, I’m just so ready to see more of Anna (my badass but shy lesbian i-) and Matthew and James and Cordelia and Lucy and all of them, and mommy Tessa and Will and all of them!!!!!!!!!

Spellhacker: A diverse cast of kickass characters take on an impossible mission. Maybe the real magic was the family we found along the way. I’m hyped.

The Kingdom of Back: Listen, all I want is this Marie Lu book. I ADORED Warcross and Wildcard SO MUCH but just couldn’t get into her older books. This magical, mystical historical fantasy just speaks to my soul. I want it, guys!

Not So Pure and Simple: This promises to be a powerful story about toxic masculinity and I’m really blessed to have an ARC, I just can’t wait to read it.

Honourable mentions:

 

The Rest of the Year:

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(minus about 54 books bc honestly, I feel like I’ve added enough to your TBR)

Dangerous Remedy – April – Danger, magic, revolution and a bisexual love triangle are but a few things we’ll get to see in Kat Alice Dunn’s debut, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Loveless – April – A powerful contemporary from everyone’s favourite Alice Oseman that tells the story of a teenager coming to terms with being aromantic.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn – May – Heck I’m so excited for this sapphic, badass YA fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

Where Dreams Descend – June – In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes. I am so excited for this one!!! I actually managed to get an ARC, I have been blessed I know.

Forest of Souls – June – A badass main character discovers a magic she never knew she had when she brings her best friend back to life and embarks on a journey to a far off kingdom and a haunted forest for answers. (the arc pictured above isn’t mine it’s a friends’ so i’ll def preorder this soon!)

 

I hope you guys will join me in having overwhelming TBRs for 2019 then, huh? Let me know your most anticipated book for 2020 down below!

 

 

Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh

In a world where Enchanteds, who have magic, rule, Outsiders like Astrid are forced into almost inescapable indentures. In order to get away from her life a surrogate to the princess, Astrid enters the Race of Oblivion – a deadly competition for Outsiders through which one winner will gain citizenship and escape their indenture, but lose all their memories upon entering. Astrid is determined to win, for she has something no other Outsider does – magic, and it could mean her freedom, but it could also be her undoing.

Astrid was a brave and fierce heroine, determined to do whatever it took to win the race. It was interesting to see her character arc, as we know more about her than she does once she loses her memories. The fact that she knew nothing about her past gave us an interesting insight into Astrid’s character. She is stubborn but still keeps her morals, avoiding killing when she can even when it is her opponent’s very intention. Astrid was aware of how low her chances were, but she wasn’t afraid to fight for her freedom. She is fiercely protective of her family and friends, despite everything that has happened to her. Astrid was smart, but sometimes she made decisions that really frustrated me, but that just made the book more exciting!

“But that wouldn’t remind Outsiders what we’re worth: the strength of our backs. Our resilience. Our ability to survive the hardest struggles, to be hurt, fall down, and still, to get back up again.”

The Race of Oblivion itself was a brutal competition, in which contestants must find clues that will lead them to the next location until they reach the final one. They are pitted against each other and given no supplies or food and forced to undertake extreme risks to find the clues. It certainly made for a high-stakes, thrill-ride of a plot with adventure and betrayal at every turn. In fact, at times, I found the intricacies of the plot a little hard to follow and found myself misunderstanding some aspects of the storyline when it wasn’t made clear exactly what was happening.

The world was a delightful mix of dystopia and fantasy. Though most of the book takes part during the Race of Oblivion, we are also given an insight into the politics of the country. I’m not sure I completely understand the scope of the world but it was well-described and painted a clear image in my mind.

The magic system was one of the most unique and interesting things in Crown of Oblivion. Those who did have magic had one of three types. Centia meant that you could sense other people’s feelings, often through scent. Pontium was the ability to build a bridge between you and someone else, through which you could communicate and see their surroundings. And Projectura was projecting sounds, often into a shrill whistle that could be used as a weapon. I found these types of magic wonderful, as there are no other magic systems like it YA. Astrid has Centia, but I’m intrigued by the intricacies of the other two, and I hope they are explored further in book two.

Reminiscent of The Hunger Games with a flair of fantasy, Crown of Oblivion was an enjoyable read, but for me, it lacked that something special that really enamours me to a book. I think fans of YA fantasy will love it, but it just wasn’t for me.

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

 

So. I am not sure where to start when it comes to this book, because it is perfect and powerful and beautiful in every way. Easily my second favourite read of 2019 (Girls of Paper and Fire comes first), this story was mesmerising and heartbreaking. Be warned, mild spoilers for book one ahead, but of course none for this one.

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Lei and Wren have finally escaped the Hidden Palace and the clutches of the King. Lei has joined Wren and her family’s rebellion, as they prepare to take over after the King’s death. But bonds will be tested, secrets kept and fires raged, for all is not as it seems, and the path to peace will be harder than Lei could have even imagined, with more than just her strength put to the test

“Wren and I might not be Paper Girls anymore, but we are still capable of creating fire. And now we have a whole world to burn.”

Okay, let’s start with the good (all of it was good but like, the happy stuff). The found family trope is my FAVE and we finally have it with this gang! Lei and Wren, Bo and Nitta, Merrin, Hiro and Shifu Caen have the best dynamic. GOSAS was full of wonderful, hilarious banter that lent a lighter touch to the heart-wrenching storyline.

I was so happy to see more of Lei and Wren and their beautiful romance, but it was so painful to see their troubles and what happened when they were both under so much stress. My poor heart. But these two are a truly iconic couple that means so much to sapphics everywhere and I am eternally grateful to them.

“She is my air. My shelter. Wren is my wings.”

Bo and Nitta were such awesome new characters. All the new faces were wonderful but these two were my favourites, especially Nitta. Bo is fun and positive, a constant beacon to the team as they endure countless hardships, and I love my queer demon boi. Nitta was elegance, grace, beauty, magnificence, my true love. I’m going to marry her and this is not up for debate. I was lucky enough to take part in a small tour of the GOSAS ARC in which readers have annotated the book with their thoughts as a gift to Natasha and I genuinely just underlined Nitta’s name again and again because I’m in love with her.

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There are so many powerful topics in this book, that I’ll get to, but since we’re on Bo and Nitta – these two were Moon Caste, which of course is the ruling caste, and it was so powerful and beautiful to see the way they handled this privilege. There is a scene where Nitta apologises to Lei on behalf of her people, and Lei says it’s not her fault and Nitta replies something like “No, but I do not suffer like you, and I may not do enough to help.” And WOW, that struck a chord, because it is something I would love to see in today’s society.

“There is nothing stronger than people who endure the worst hardships in the world and still raise their fists at the start of a new day to fight all over again.”

Natasha’s world-building is so rich and beautiful. She has created a stunning, cultural, Asian-inspired fantasy world that is always stunning and vivid in my mind’s eye. It is wonderful to see many different Asian ethnicities shown on the page in such a beautiful way. I think it is far too often in fantasy we see just one Asian race when there are so many ethnicities within the umbrella term “Asian” that are not represented or are clumped into one ethnicity, and it makes me angry.

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Girls of Paper and Fire bookmark bundle by @moonlightcreations on Instagram 🙂 

Girls of Paper and Fire dealt with sexual assault, but GOSAS does so in a way that, if possible, impacted me more. In Girls of Storm and Shadow, Lei is suffering from PTSD after her life at the palace, haunted by a spectre of the Demon King and trying to drown her sorrows in alcohol. Wow, this portrayal of the effects of sexual assault was so powerful, and it hurt but healed me down to my very core. I’m so so grateful to Natasha for creating a high-stakes, exciting fantasy adventure which includes so many loved tropes and then not being afraid to incorporate such important topics and lift women up.

“Being vulnerable isn’t a flaw. It is the most beautiful thing in the world. If you were invincible, being brave would be easy.”

Natasha did a lot of cruel things to my heart in this book, which I cannot go into. But it hurts. A lot. I am not okay. I will NOT FORGIVE YOU NATASHA.
Girls of Storm and Shadow is a powerful, mesmerising and exciting follow up to the iconic Girls of Paper and Fire, and I beg you to pick these books up.

Love, Secret Santa by S.A. Domingo

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S.A. Domingo’s YA debut is a cute romance perfect for the snowy season. Angel Green doesn’t have time for love, she’s too busy studying to get a scholarship to medical college. But this Christmas, she suspects her Secret Santa might also be a secret admirer, and as she spends more time working on a charity fundraiser with popular boy Casper, she’s not so sure she doesn’t want romance after all.

I really liked Angel. She was positive and hard-working, always kind and enthusiastic. It was great to see her conquer her insecurities and find the happiness she deserved. I loved the portrayal of her relationship with her mum, which was so genuine, sweet and loving. It’s good to see a character in YA who is so close with her parents and really treats them as a friend. Talking of friends, Angel’s friends made for awesome secondary characters. Izzy and Ola both had awesome, unique personalities and I appreciated how they were always there to love and support Angel. I can definitely see a spin-off with one of them as the main character.

Casper was such a great love interest, and I couldn’t help but like his softness and generous personality. He was so sweet and kind to everyone, especially Angel, and I really appreciated having a love interest that wasn’t the “bad boy”. He liked football but was also so passionate about art, which was awesome to see. His character definitely seemed so vibrant when doing art which was just so pure.

The romance between these two was a super cute friends-to-lovers story that made me smile a lot! They were such a sweet couple with their awkward moments, insecurities and genuine love for each other. The Secret Santa storyline was really adorable and thoughtful.

The storyline was so cute and I loved the buildup of Angel and Casper’s romance and the casual flirting. The plot was quite predictable and there was not much in the way of plot twists or surprises, but I enjoyed the story none the less and found it fun and entertaining.

It’s definitely great to see UKYA by authors of colour and a romance like this with two main characters of colour is great to see! There’s a great line where Angel says how much she loves her brown skin which was important and so lovely.

Love, Secret Santa was a cutesy, light read perfect for the holidays, and I’d definitely recommend it for a bit of feel-good romance to make you feel warm inside this Christmas.

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

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When Lan cruelly rejects Bao, he flees his hometown but gets caught by a witch who curses him. Seeking to make up for her actions, Lan pledges to help him rid himself of the curse…but that might be more complicated than they thought, and reveal things about themselves they never knew.
Julie C. Dao’s latest book is nothing short of a delight. It is set in a rich Vietnamese – inspired fantasy world that I was entranced by. The world-building is lush and the Great Forest is vividly and beautifully described. Dao builds an immersive, cultural world that is sure to awe you.
Lan was a fierce and stubborn heroine, headstrong and brave. Her character arc was wonderful, as she slowly becomes less of the posh upper-class lady she was, and more of the adventurous, persistent woman she really is. I really loved how she wasn’t perfect – she was ignorant in some ways, she wasn’t always kind – but she was always ready to atone for her mistakes and become better, something we don’t see enough in YA heroines! Bao was my soft, beautiful love. He was fiercely loving and kind, friendly and compassionate to everyone, and so hopelessly in love with Lan. His story of accepting himself and his past was so precious and wonderful, I loved seeing him grow and settle into himself.

“Love isn’t waiting for someone to remember me. Love isn’t dreaming about them all alone. Love is talking together, forgiving each other, finding common threads in the lives we want. I’ve learned that now. You taught me.”

The romance between these two was so tender. I loved how it was not forced at all, but built up so naturally from a grudging friendship into a deeper bond. It’s all about Lan falling for a boy she knows will treat her right and abandoning the idea of love she had for something that is real and true, and Bao finding out who Lan really is, past the person he thought he loved and realising that he loves her for who she really is even more. It was so pure, real and unproblematic and I absolutely loved it.
Though this was definitely a romance focused story, the plotline was captivating and intriguing! Mixed with magic, journeys, war and fierce secondary characters, the storyline sure was a treat! I loved how Dao wove an intricate and exciting adventure amidst the character development and romance. There was the perfect mix of dialogue, tenderness, action and excitement. Though the plot didn’t always surprise me, it was still thoroughly enjoyable.
Dao’s prose is enchanting and lyrical, a delight to read. It gives the book a fairytale-like atmosphere that I absolutely adore. The descriptions are vivid and lush, the dialogue emotional and entertaining. The writing is just altogether *chef’s kiss*.
I think there were a few things I missed having not read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, but this book can absolutely be read as a standalone, with new main characters and adventures.
Song of the Crimson Flower is an enchanting and ornate standalone fantasy romance that I really loved.

Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao

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In Amélie Wen Zhao’s highly anticipated debut, an outlaw princess with an Affinity for blood teams up with a con man to seek revenge on the man who killed her father, the king, and framed her for the murder.

The plot was intriguing and complicated, focusing on both Ana and Ramson’s intent on revenge. The storyline was full of twists and turns, betrayals and alliances. It surprised me at every time with secrets revealed, and I loved that. However, it also revolved around the slave trade of Cyrilia, where those with Affinities were effectively slaves, sold and bought without their permission. As Ana travels more of her country, she sees how dire this situation has become and is determined to do something. This is an important topic and I hope it is discussed even further in book two.

I loved Ana, she was brave and feisty and loving.  She was badass and brutal, but also loyal and kind. What a perfect heroine. She goes through a lot and it’s amazing how strong she stays. I loved watching her grow as a character as she came to terms with her power and the world she lived in, and I can’t wait to see her grow more in book two.

Ramson is bound to be a fan favourite. Handsome? Sure is. Morally grey crime lord? You bet. Tragic backstory? Of course. Totally soft for Ana and kind of a really sweet guy? Duh. I couldn’t help but love him, his wit and resilience. One of my favourite things was seeing him warm to Ana and realise he couldn’t bear to betray her. Now that’s character development. The romance between these two is an enemies-to-lovers slow burn that hasn’t happened just yet but is definitely implied it will happen eventually. There is definitely some chemistry between Ana and Ramson, but I’d love to see more of their friendship before their relationship develops further.

I also really hope we’ll see more of Lynn in the next novel because listen, she’s so badass and awesome but also so soft and beautiful.

“In the face of fear, one could choose to run, or to rise.”

Amélie Wen Zhao’s writing is stunning – from vivid, stunning imagery to captivating battle scenes, it blew me away. The way she builds the world of Cyrilia and the surrounding countries is beautiful and intriguing. There are so many little details that make the world feel alive and made me fall in love with it, from icehawks and Whitecloaks to busy markets and sweet treats.

Being YA fantasy, Blood Heir wasn’t able to escape the tropes of the genre, but I enjoyed it none the less, finding each trope to be woven well into the intriguing storyline. The only thing I didn’t really like about this novel (or more like didn’t understand) is that it’s meant to be a retelling of Anastasia Romanov, and past the Russian-esque setting, Ana’s name, and her being a displaced royal thought dead, there was barely any comparisons between Anastasia Romanov’s story and Blood Heir, which made me sad because I was so excited to see how the author would explore the original story.

Blood Heir was an intriguing, intricate and bloody book that is bound to be a hit with lovers of high fantasy, and I really enjoyed it. It was a thrilling and well-written story set in a vivid and beautiful world, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of Throne of Glass, Six of Crows and Children of Blood and Bone.

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

In this wonderful Batman origin story, Bruce Wayne meets Arkham inmate Madeleine Wallace, locked up for murder…but did she really commit the crime? Is she working for the notorious Nightwalkers? And is Bruce falling for her? This was an entertaining and enticing read that is a perfect introduction to Batman.

I really liked Bruce and his character arc to him becoming the masked vigilante.  I adored Madeleine, my morally grey kind-of villainess. I really enjoyed the interactions between these two! The secondary characters were great too, especially Alfred and Dianne, who I would love to see more of!

The dialogue was really great, especially between Bruce and Madeleine! It was so captivating and interesting with just enough humour and fun.

The dynamic between Bruce and Madeleine was wonderful. Madeleine was very manipulative and yet I almost wanted her to succeed because I liked her character so much. She easily drew Bruce in and was snarky and intelligent. Bruce on the other hand, despite his intelligence, was rash around Madeleine and was far too trusting of her.

The plot was intriguing and had me hooked at every second! It was entertaining and fast-paced, full of plot twists that had my heart racing, but still with some great dialogue scenes.

The art was absolutely stunning, some of my favourite that I’ve seen in a comic! Chris Wildgoose perfectly portrayed the characters and storyline, and the facial expressions especially were wondrous! I think he manages to capture the feeling of Gotham and it’s characters very well, showing their personalities incredibly.

Gotham was well realised and as intriguing to me as ever! We saw both the side of the wealthy and privileged and the dark side of criminals and Arkham Asylum, which I really enjoyed. It was good to see the contrast between those who take their wealth for granted and make money from the poor, and those like Madeleine who have suffered for it. We can see how Bruce tries to be better with how he handles his fortune, something I’ve always liked about him.

Overall Batman: Nightwalker was a capturing and exciting read which I really loved. As always, Marie Lu has crafted a wonderful story that is brought to life by stunning art. Definitely recommend this one to all DC or Batman fans, or even those looking for a first comic to read about him.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Years ago, the world of Aeon was torn apart in the Breaking. No one knows exactly what happened except that it was caused by two twin goddesses. Now the world is divided and no longer spins – one side is immersed in eternal night, the other under the ever-scorching sun. But the daughters of the goddesses, Haidee and Odessa, might just have the ability to save the world.
The Never Tilting World was easily one of my top 2019 reads. Everything about it was just *chef’s kiss*.

“A demoness is what they call a goddess that men cannot control.”

Aeon was so vividly and stunningly imagined. It’s inspired by the author’s home in the Philippines and the natural disasters that are not uncommon there, so the pain of the Breaking and its impact on the people of Aeon was so raw and real. It was heartbreaking to see the way a once beautiful world had been torn apart and was suffering in extreme conditions, and I hope it will raise awareness of the real-life things happening in the Philippines. The way Rin Chupeco shows climate change as a villain and portrays it in YA fantasy is so important and wonderful. The world of Aeon was broken, but beautiful none the less, and I loved every second of my time there.

“We’re chasing a dying sea under an endless sun that kills us with a thousand little cuts every day. There’ll be nothing left soon. Nothing but sand and bone.”

The characters own my entire heart. Lan, badass, loyal, and not afraid to beat up someone who tries to steal her books. I’m in love with her. Odessa, shy at first but with a character arc that literally had me shivering in delight and fear. Arjun, soft, stubborn and protective. Haidee, reckless, kind and smart. These four were all perfect, and I’m in love with every single one of them. The dynamics between them were wonderful and I miss them already.
The romance in this book is perfect for everyone. For fans of enemies to lovers, we have a romance which is incredibly cute, a little bit murdery at first, and between two stubborn characters who just blush all the time. And then there’s the romance of my dreams, book shop sapphic love story turned spicy and forbidden. Just everything about these two storylines is wonderful. They’re both so perfectly constructed with just the right amount of tension and cutesy scenes.
The writing was lyrical and wonderful, filled with vivid description, tension-filled fight scenes and witty, entertaining dialogue. I was totally hooked on Rin Chupeco’s writing style, it drew me in and refused to let go. The Never Tilting World read like a dream, with the perfect balance of character development and adventure. I never got bored, and I devoured it far too quickly.

“When the dead find words, the goddess and the Devoted son will meet atop a fish not a fish, on a sea not a sea. It is she who travels to the endless Abyss, and it is he who guides her.”

The plot was exciting and intoxicating. Plot twists and secrets waited around every corner, and the dual narrative had me so enticed and worried. The storyline flowed perfectly, each event contributing to a breathtaking and tear-inducing climax that left me crying for book two.
The Never Tilting World was a wonderful, beautiful and unique book that absolutely blew me away. I think I’m spoiled for YA fantasy after this because it would be hard to top it. I don’t have enough words to discuss the wonderful world-building, the beautiful characters and the important messages. Everyone just needs to read this book this instant.

DCeased by Tom Taylor

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In this high stakes superhero adventure, the earth is being destroyed by an equation in the form of a deadly, zombie-making virus, and Wonderwoman, Batman and the rest of the Justice League are the only things that stand a chance at stopping it ravaging the entire planet.
The full-colour art is simply stunning, of course. It brings the story to life in a way that is just *chef’s kiss*. The art actually changed because this is a bind-up of several issues, but I didn’t mind that at all. I liked all of the art styles and they all depicted the story uniquely and beautifully. The cover of DCeased is disappointing compared to all the art inside, so don’t let it mislead you.
I loved how high the stakes were in this novel. I feel like in a lot of books no one dies but in this one like half of the best characters die *soft sobbing* but it’s so well done and might have made me cry, on a couple of occasions. Because there are so many characters, DCeased isn’t full of character development, but I still loved seeing all the characters and how they reacted and were around the threats and each other.

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I don’t love zombies but I actually really loved this story nonetheless. It was a bit more about the character’s descent into madness or how they dealt with the zombies that the apocalypse itself, which I really enjoyed. Tom Taylor really manages to bring forward the characters personalities in the situation, knowing the characters we love on a deeper level. This story is about the humanity of the superheroes and the friendships between them, more that a kill virus, though that is at the centre of the book. The idea of the virus was a tiny bit underdeveloped, but the rest of the book more than made up for it.

This novel had the Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy romance that we all deserve! It was so cute and I just ship them so much. One of my favourite scenes was early on when Harley Quinn goes and tells the Joker how she’s never getting involved with him again, because he’s toxic and bad for her, but then he turns out to be a zombie already and she kills him. Perfecto.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that I didn’t actually know all of the characters, but that’s on me.
DCeased is an absolutely riveting, high stakes adventure about morality, sacrifice and friendship and I loved it!!! Would definitely recommend to all DC fans, or even those newer to the universe.

INTERVIEW with Sara B. Larson, author of Sisters of Shadow and Light

Sara B. Larson, acclaimed author of Defy, returned on November 5th with her new novel, Sisters of Shadow and Light! I am highly anticipating this book, and Sara herself was kind enough to answer all my questions about her new novel, writing, and more!

Hey Sara! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Of course! I live in Utah with my husband and 4 kids. I love the mountains, hiking, and boating, but I secretly want to retire to a warm beach someday. I’ve always loved writing and reading, so I feel very lucky to be able to make a living doing my dream job!

For readers who haven’t heard of it yet, what can we expect from Sisters of Shadow and Light?

It’s a story about two sisters, trapped behind a sentient, magical hedge, living in an abandoned citadel with their emotionally damaged mother. One sister has magical powers gifted to her by their father–who disappeared the night she was born. The girls have an unbreakable bond…but it will be pushed to the limits when the hedge lets a stranger in for the first time and series of events is set off that quickly tears their quiet, lonely world apart.

Sisterhood is a central theme in your book. What made you want to write about this particular bond?

I am the oldest of five girls, and I am super close to my sisters. We get lots of comments on how tight-knit we are as a family, actually. We are still normal–we have disagreements and you can only imagine what my dad endured when it was “that time of the month” for six women (don’t forget my mom!)–but ultimately we always forgive, move on, and love each other and because of that, we are all still best friends. I’ve always wanted to write about that special bond, because it’s such a huge part of my life, and now as I’m watching my daughters forge their own bond, it became more important to me than ever.

Who do you think you would be better friends with – Zuhra or Inara?

Boy, that’s a hard choice! I love them both for different reasons. My first instinct is to say Zuhra because she’s the oldest and so am I, so we understand that feeling of responsibility to take care of our younger siblings. But in real life, almost all of my closest friends (outside of my sisters) are middle or youngest children, so maybe I’m way off!

What inspired you when building the world of Sisters of Shadow and Light?

The first thing that inspired me was an image I saw of a huge castle/citadel like building on the edge of a cliff with a waterfall coming out from beneath it to crash to the earth far, far below. The citadel in SOSAL is very similar to the image I saw, but it is built against the side of a mountain in my book. That was the first piece that came together for the world building. I had also been fascinated with beautiful images of unique doors and abandoned rooms and hedges so massive it felt as though you could get trapped behind them permanently–and all of that shaped the world building as well.

If you could have the power of any of the Paladins, whose would you choose?

There are a lot of really cool powers that they have so it’s hard to choose! I don’t want to spoil some of the surprises of the story, but hopefully it won’t be revealing too much to say I would pick the ability to heal. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the price of a healing intense enough to save a life would be difficult to bear if you did it very often.

Do you have any author role models – and if so, who?

Yes, absolutely! There is the obvious – J.K. Rowling, of course! (In fact, I made a total geek of myself when the host at The Ivy in London told us he was seating us at the table next to the one where she eats once a month. I think my son wearing his HP robes to The Cursed Child tipped him off to our fandom.) But I also think Stephanie Garber, Sarah J. Maas, Kathryn Purdie, Mary Pearson, Leigh Bardugo, and Laini Taylor are incredibly talented women. I have to fight off imposter syndrome when I read their books! There are many more I could name, but those are the first few that popped up.

What makes a five-star read for you?

If I can’t put it down, no matter how crazy my kids are acting or how late I am on a deadline–and if it’s so well written that my “internal editor” stays silent–then it is a five-star read for sure. A few books that did that for me recently are Finale by Stephanie Garber, Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, and Bone Crier’s Moon that comes out in March from Kathryn Purdie.

When writing Sisters of Shadow and Light, what is one thing you found difficult?

It’s a very big world and plot, and my goal as an author is to try and make each book I write better than the last one. So sometimes I felt overwhelmed by the scope of what I was trying to accomplish and just hoping and praying I was doing this story and these sisters justice! Also, the longer I’ve been published, the louder my “internal editor” gets, which makes it harder and harder to write that first draft of a book. A first draft, by nature, is imperfect and messy at times, and I found it pretty hard to ignore the voice in my head telling me “this isn’t good enough, you need to make this better” and just get the story out. I’m so glad I was able to persevere and finish it, because I love these sisters and I can’t wait to share them with all of you!

Can you tell us what came first in the process of writing Sisters of Shadow and Light? Did you start with the world, the characters or an idea?

It started with Inara and Zuhra first. I saw a picture of a girl with glowing blue eyes and it ignited this little idea I’d had sparking inside for a while. I’d been wanting to write a story about sisters for a long time, and when I saw another image for a girl who looked like she could be the first girl’s sister–BAM! Then I saw the image of the citadel on the cliff that I mentioned before, and from there, the rest of it blossomed into the story you now have!

For all the aspiring authors out there, what advice can you give on writing a book and getting published?

My advice is two-fold: First, to never give up. I honestly believe if you never give up, you will eventually get published. Even if it’s ten years or even fifteen or twenty down the road. If you want it badly enough, it will happen. But, second, is that you also need to put the work in. Read widely and voraciously. Know what’s out there and what you can offer that’s different or unique or a fun spin. Write, write, write, and then revise, revise, revise! Go to conferences, find critique partners, do your homework. There are so many resources out there to help you learn how to elevate your writing and how to query agents and get published. Make sure you do it all!

And finally – how are you feeling about the release of Sisters of Shadow and Light – and how soon it is?!

I am beyond excited! This book feels very personal to me, so for that reason alone, I am so happy it is finally going to be published–but also nervous! It’s always nerve-wracking to put yourself out there, no matter how many times you’ve done it. I also worked really hard to try and make this the best book I’ve written yet, so hopefully my fans will love it and maybe I’ll even have some new readers find me!