MOST ANTICIPATED READS IN 2019 — MID-YEAR EDITION

Even with half the year behind us, and so many books already read, there are still so many books still to come for 2019!

We would like to preface this with a note that these release dates are, of course, subject to change. Just in the week between drafting and preparing to post this we had quite a few titles to rearrange. Also you’ll note in some cases we have indicated a specific country next to a title. This might mean it’s lagged release, ie, already out in the US but now released in the UK, or available everywhere but the US, and doesn’t make the release date wrong. However we did not duplicate titles to indicate multiple release dates. Just something to keep in mind!

Topping our lists of Most Anticipated Reads in 2019 — Mid-Year Edition (in order of publication) are :

July
THE PLUS ONE by Sarah Archer (2nd)
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME by Mhairi McFarlane (2nd in CAN)
THE MARRIAGE CLOCK by Zara Raheem (23rd)
THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen (30th)
BRAZEN AND THE BEAST by Sarah MacLean (30th)
A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham (30th)

August
SARONG PARTY GIRLS by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (1st in the UK)
DISCRETION by Karina Halle (6th)
ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane (8th in the UK)
TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers (8th)
THE WALLFLOWER WAGER by Tessa Dare (13th)
THE YEAR I LEFT by Christine Brae (20th)
SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews (27th)
ALL THE BAD APPLES by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (27th)
HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS by Kerrigan Byrne (27th)

September
AMERICAN ROYALS by Katharine McGee (3rd)
HARP OF KINGS by Juliet Marillier (3rd)
BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore (3rd)
THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by Katy Rose Pool (3rd)
THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK by Adrienne Young (3rd)
GIDEON THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir (10th)
BEARD WITH ME by Penny Reid (16th)
WAYWARD SON by Rainbow Rowell (24th)
HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden (24th in the UK)

October
WAR OF HEARTS by S Young (1st)
REBEL by Marie Lu (1st)
CRIER’S WAR by Nina Varela (1st)
BEARD NECESSITIES by Penny Reid (7th)
NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo
THE GRACE YEAR by Kim Liggett (8th)
INTO THE CROOKED PLACE by Alexandra Christo (8th)
THE BEAUTIFUL by Renee Ahdieh (8th)
TWICE IN A BLUE MOON by Christina Lauren (22nd)

November
THE BROMANCE BOOKCLUB by Lyssa Kay Adams (5th)
CALL DOWN THE HAWK by Maggie Stiefvater (5th)
GIRLS OF STORM AND SHADOW by Natasha Ngan (5th)
THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black (19th)

December
REGRETTING YOU by Colleen Hoover (10th)
DRAGON UNLEASHED by Grace Draven (10th)
THE WIVES by Tarryn Fisher (30th)


What titles are topping your list for most anticipated for the later half of 2019? Let us know!

THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER by Lena Kaaberbol

Up on the blog today is Micky’s review of The Shamer’s Daughter, a MG-YA fantasy

Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother’s gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions simply by looking into someone’s eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift but a curse. Surrounded by fear and hostility, she longs for simple friendship.

But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her power–or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark. 


Title : The Shamer’s Daughter
Author :  Lena Kaaberbol
Series : The Shamer Chronicles
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 202
Genre : MG/YA
Publisher : Pushkin Press
Release Date : July 4, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER leans more towards middle grade reading than YA but it is an engaging story with an unusual special-power characteristic that I’ve not come across before in fantasy literature.

Dina was the daughter of a shamer and in this fantastical kingdom, shamers were used to get a confession for heinous crimes. So while people were frightened of shamers, they were also respected from a distance. Dina had inherited her mother’s gift.

What started off as 11 year old Dina making sense of her young life and altered friendships since her gift had manifested, quickly merged into an intruiging tale that put her family at risk. There were dragons, prisons, friendships and deceit. Dina’s gift was put to the test and she showed a tenacious ability to problem-solve and survive.

This is a fast-paced read, quite exciting and definitely appealing to a younger YA market and middle grade readers. This is a series starter that is likely to leave readers ready to jump into the next books. With books 2&3 being published imminently and book 4 on it’s way, there won’t be a long wait for the story to evolve. THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER has a visually catching cover that has a theme caught by the following books.

Thank you Puskin Press for the finished copy to review.

THE AU PAIR by Emma Rous

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.


Title : The Au Pair
Author : Emma Rous
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 360 pages
Genre : Suspense
Publisher : Piatkus, Little Brown Book UK
Release Date : 11 July 2019

Reviewer :  Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

They say lies make for a tangled web but I don’t think I was prepared for the knotted mess that this story played out to be. This tale was carefullly plotted out with a cluster of circumstances that were crazy good reading.

Told in past and present and through two main POVs of Laura and Seraphine who narrated the story. In the past, the story focused on Ruth and Dominic, a married couple, their friend Alex, their au pair, their son, Ruth’s mother….I could go on. The tale in the present focused on Ruth and Dominic’s children, trying to find the truth behind events 25 years ago. It was everything intruiging and the author cleverly drip fed information on a need to know basis.

From early on in the story, I was guessing, this and that. In the long run, I made some good guesses, some that I went on to disregard turned out to be founded in some truth. The story built and built with dramatic but believable turns, culminating in the past and present clashing in a revealing way.

THE AU PAIR was a well-written suspense, leading the reader on in semi-darkness but making it almost impossible to put the book down. I felt satisfied in the culmination and I would definitely read Emma Rous again. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Piatkus and Little Brown Books UK for the review copy.

2019 MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT

We decided to take a look at our reading experiences for the first 6 months of 2019…behold the FREAK OUT! You want stats? We have it. You want snark? We have it. Come see.

Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

It’s officially summer, the solstice and longest day of the year have come and gone. So naturally that inspires us to ask : how are you doing on your reading challenges/goals?

This is the second year that I (Hollis) haven’t set a Goodreads reading goal (mostly because in the past I’ve a) exceeded them and b) said goal was already more than most people could read in a year, so it felt like bragging) and honestly it feels pretty good. Since last year’s slump I’m still not reading at quite the same pace I used to but I’m actually pretty okay with what I’ve read so far.

Last year my overall reads went down by about fifty books than the two years prior so I’m curious to see where things are this year. I’m mostly resigned to this ebb and flow of my reading mojo now and just kind of going with it. It never feels great to not be reading but as long as I’m meeting my deadlines for ARCs.. that’s all I personally care about.

As of June 22, 2019, Hollis‘ total reads are : one hundred and twenty-six (126). Of those reads, seven (7) are five-star reads and seven (7) are one-star reads. Weird. Also, for one reason or another, six (6) books were left unrated. Additionally I’ve DNF’d six (6) books this year.

Further breaking this down, of those one hundred and twenty-six (126) books, sixty-four (64) were ARCs, thirty (30) were from my OverDrive, sixteen (16) were bought/freebie eBooks, seven (7) are physically owned by me, five (5) were graphic novels from hoopla, and one (1) was a physical library book. Incase you were doing the math with me, yes, that leaves three (3) books unaccounted for. I’m as confused as you. But you get the idea.


I (Micky) don’t like to brag but this is the fourth year I haven’t set a reading goal for the year and basically I find it very freeing to not feel pressured in any way. People normally feel pressured about whether they’ll reach their reading goal, I was the opposite, I found that it made me feel like I was reading too much and therefore, taking my pleasure away. I get that goals are motivating for some people though.

I’ve had a pretty up and down year so far because I was finishing some study (finished in June) so that has affected what I’ve read rather than how much I’ve read. When I’m stressed, I re-read, so I’ve been late with some arcs in the last few months and generally picking up less new-to-me books.

My stats are looking like this, as of June 22, 2019, Micky’s total reads are : one hundred and thirteen (113). Of those reads, seven (7) are five-star reads and two (2) are one-star reads. I also have (9) nine DNFs, most of which I’ve left unrated. At this point, I feel like Hollis would like me to provide a pie chart, graph and gantt chart for books read, time passed and time ahead. That’ll be a no from me, but suffice it to say I’ve read a fair few arcs, lots from the library and listened to (20) twenty audiobooks.


So, now that we’ve bared our bookish souls, where do you stand on your reading goals, if you had any? How do you feel about how much you’ve read, or even what you’ve read, so far? Let us know!

PAN’S LABYRINTH : THE LABYRINTH OF THE FAUN by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.


Title : Pan’s Labyrinth : The Labyrinth of the Faun
Author : Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke
Format : ARC
Page Count : 262
Genre : YA fantasy horror / retelling
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I totally thought this was an MG story and hahahaha no.

I don’t know about the rest of you but when I think Pan’s Labyrinth I think [insert creepy dude with eyes in the palms of his hands here]. I only saw the movie once, a million years ago, and I thought this was an extension of the story or just inspired by it. But from what I understand (because I sure don’t remember enough to say for certain) is that this is an expanded, additionally layered, version of the movie itself.

Which should tell you who should or should not be reading this.

This is classified as YA I think but it is quite dark, if not considered outright horror, but it’s not just the fantastical elements that are dark. It’s the human elements, too. The brutalities done not only by bad men during times of war but bad men, period, who need no excuse.

There is melancholy and bitterness and grief and loneliness and yet the enduring belief in magic, in fairytales, in hope, too. The story is both bleak and yet also whimsical, captivatingly creative and cringey creepy, and the illustrations were just gorgeous.

This book consumed me and I loved every moment.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

ANTICIPATED JULY 2019 RELEASES

Each month, we’ll be putting together a list of our top most anticipated releases; from romance, to sci-fi, to fantasy, and everything in between. These releases might be ones we’re counting down the days for or ones we’ve already read and want you to read (and love!), too.

What you do need to bear in mind is that living on different continents we have different release dates. So as a general rule there might be some repeats from one month to the next.. it’s not that we’re just being weird. Though we can’t dismiss that totally out of turn.


For July, Hollis’ hotly anticipated titles are :

Roan Parrish’s Riven series continues to deliver. This m/m contemporary romance series, set around musicians and the music scene, deals with subject matter like addiction and loss and mental health in such a meaningful, beautiful way. She also gives us fabulous pairings in each instalment. RAZE is her newest offering and is out July 2, 2019.

I was drawn to THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman because of the cover — and the title. Both speak to me (and likely all of us bookies!). This is a women’s fiction title so I’m not sure how much romance to expect but I’ve been enjoying more and more of this genre lately, as a nice break from romance, so I’m excited to read this one. Plus, Nina apparently has a cat named Phil? Everything about this just sounds adorable. This title is out July 9, 2019.

I never knew sapphic horror was a thing that was missing in my life until I heard the pitch for WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power. The cover (again! so predicable) is what drew me to pay attention to this book but everything I’ve heard about it since — the plot, the early reviews — just confirms this is one to be ready for. WILDER GIRLS is out July 9, 2019.

SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim’s pitch is “Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars. This checks almost all of my boxes and is out July 9, 2019.


THE RAGE OF DRAGONS by Evan Winter has been pitched as Gladiator meets Game of Thrones and in this post-GoT (show) world.. isn’t that everything we need? Plus this author is Canadian and it’s his debut (and the start of an epic series). So I’ve got my cheer squad on standby and am very hype to dive into this one. THE RAGE OF DRAGONS is out July 16, 2019.

I know almost nothing about MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen. But it’s got a badass cover (oh Hollis..), deals with crows (anyone else notice how 2019 is the year of the crow and snake?) and is out July 30, 2019. I’m curious enough that despite my tally of failed YA fantasy reads this year, I’m still going to give this debut author a try.


BRAZEN AND THE BEAST by Sarah MacLean is the last of Hollis’ anticipated titles (she thinks..). This is the second in MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastards series and, surprising mostly me, I can’t wait for it. My experiences with the author’s previous titles have been up and down and mostly middling but 2018’S WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER was such a delight. I loved it so much and am very keen for more from these characters. BRAZEN AND THE BEAST is out July 30, 2019.



For July, Micky’s hotly anticipated titles are :

Before I get to that, Hollis can you stop with the making me feel inadequate with all that July anticipation? (*whispers* bloody over-achiever) I have much less to talk about but I am looking forward to some books ahead and I’ll attempt to chat about a few.

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman was also a cover love arc request for me and the word ‘book’ in the title is an immediate draw. I’ve not read my arc yet but Nina Hill sounds quirky and kind of awkward which is a trope I often enjoy. Nina Hill will be making her debut on July 9, 2019

THE MARRIAGE CLOCK by Zara Raheem is a story of a muslim young woman, set in an American community. The protagonist, Leila has been given three months to find a husband or her traditional parents will find one for her. So, she sets herself on a path to finding that man through a variety of dating escapades that promise to make great reading. This exciting desi offering is emerging on July 23, 2019.

Did someone say highlander and bar in the same sentence? Oh Laura Trentham did with her upcoming book A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR. I really could just leave it there but I’m going to tease you with a bit more because we all need more kilts in our lives (I say this motto daily). This story is one where said highlander is brought from his native lands to Georgia to compete in some highland games. I’m so ridiculously excited about this book that I hope it will live up to my own hype. The highlander will be walking into the bar on July 30, 2019.

THE AU PAIR by Emma Rous is a suspense, mystery that has been out in the US for a while but it’s coming to British soil, so I’ve had an arc. It was pretty great, I have to say. The story focuses on a wealthy family who have tragedy in their past. The three children of this family find out that their past is not what they thought and the answers lie with the au pair of their childhood. Told in present and past, this was a gripping tale that will make a great holiday read. The Au Pair is out in paperback on July 11, 2019.


What titles are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments below!

RAZE by Roan Parrish

Sometimes the walls we build to save ourselves have to come tumbling down.

For the last ten years, Huey has built his life around his sobriety. If that means he doesn’t give a damn about finding love or companionship for himself, well, it’s probably better that way. After all, the last thing he wants is to hurt anyone else. Until Felix Rainey walks into his bar, fresh-faced, unbearably sweet–and, for some reason Huey can’t fathom, interested in him.

As the eldest of five kids, Felix Rainey spent his childhood cooking dinner, checking homework, and working after-school jobs. Now in his twenties, he’s still scrambling to make ends meet and wondering what the hell he’s doing with his life. When he meets Huey, he’s intimidated . . . and enamored. Huey’s strong and confident, he owns his own business–hell, he’s friends with rock stars. What could he ever see in Felix?

As Huey and Felix get closer, the spark catches and soon they can’t get enough of each other. But Huey’s worked hard to avoid intimacy, and Felix threatens his carefully constructed defenses. Huey realizes he needs to change if he wants to truly put his past behind him–and build a future with Felix.


Title : Raze
Author: Roan Parrish
Series : Riven (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 316
Genre : contemporary romance, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Loveswept
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I forgot you’re not supposed to bring up masturbation at the dinner table on the first date.
Yeah, that’s strictly second-date dinner convo.

Right off the bat, I have to say, this cover does not do Felix justice. I wasn’t really a fan of it to begin with but after seeing how the character was not only described but acted? There’s no match-up here whatsoever. But, having said that, at the end of the day it’s about the content, not the window dressing.

Felix seemed like a map folded up small and perfect that would sprawl when unfurled, and show you everything. And I..fuck, I wanted to see it.

This is easily my favourite series by Parrish and while RAZE didn’t match my love for RIVEN, and nor did REND, each book has been emotional, lovely, heart wrenching, beautiful, tough, real, all the things. Oh and swoony and sexy af. The author devastates with the simplest of things, like a hug, and exposes very real insecurities in her characters that I think everyone can immediately connect with. No matter their size or strength, no matter their fame or success, no matter what they’ve overcome or shouldered, each individual is struggling or hiding or avoiding something. Just like every day humans. And it’s this connection that makes these books, even set as they are around rockstars and the music industry, even only peripherally (at least since book one), so so easy to love. Just as it’s impossible not to love these imminently precious characters who, in some form or another, feel they aren’t worthy or deserving of love; or are just overlooked, maybe even just held back.. by outside forces or themselves. Never seen or pursued by the right person.

The problem with feeling so much pleasure, so much joy, so much contentment — with feeling so much, period — after so long spent feeling very little, was that I instantly craved more of it.

If you’re looking for sweetness and sexiness, with a solid foundation of grit and realness, I would definitely recommend this series.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JULY 2, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!
As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


RAZE by Roan Parrish is book three in her Riven series, a series of interconnected m/m romance standalones that follow musicians or people on the edge of the music scene. My favourite has been RIVEN, hands down, but each book has been emotional, lovely, heart wrenching, beautiful, tough, real, all the things. Oh and swoony and sexy af. Hollis’ four star review is here.

PAN’S LABYRINTH : THE LABYRINTH OF THE FAUN by Cornelia Funke and Guillermo del Toro is, yes, that Pan’s Labyrinth. If like me all you remember is [insert creepy eyes-in-palms here], well, this book might be a great way to jog your memory while also offering something new. This is an expanded version of the movie which I absolutely loved and has me clamouring to make time for a rewatch. Look out for Hollis’ four star review later this week!

THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER by Lena Kaaberbøl is a YA fantasy and the start of a series that is getting ready to publish book three. It is published for the first time by Pushkin Press in the UK this week and the cover is a shiny blue delight, the inside is pretty good too. This story focuses on Dina, who has inherited her mother’s ‘gift’ to see and tease out people’s shamed confessions. Sounds like more of a curse to me. Micky is currently reading this one.

TANGLE by Adriana Locke is the second in a series of interconnected standalones that is set in the small town of Dogwood Lane. I read book one (Tumble) so I am looking forward to the next. This sounds like a read filled with chemistry between the main characters Trevor and Haley but will it be fling only because someone is a commitment-phobe. Adriana Locke writes good contemporary romance so I see a good outcome here!


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

MONTHLY WRAP UP – JUNE 2019

To close out each month, we’ll be posting a break down of everything we reviewed, beginning with the reads we loved.. and ending with the reads we didn’t. Not only does this compile all our reviews in one handy summary for you to peruse, or catch up on, it also gives us an interesting birds eye view of the month and our reads. And maybe, even, our moods.

The lack of Micky-ness on the review stakes is a result of exams this month. Re-reads where my constant this month, keeping me going with less concentration needed. I’ll be back to reading more new-to-me books and reviewing them next month.


☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

MAGIC RISES by Ilona Andrews — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang — see Micky’s (and Hollis’ May review) review here
SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson — see Hollis’ review here
MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE by Nisha Sharma — see Micky’s review here
IF I’M BEING HONEST by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka — see Hollis’ review here
THE FRIEND ZONE by Abby Jimenez — see Hollis’ review here
PROMISE ME NOTHING by Jillian Liota — see Micky’s review here
THE GIRL IN RED by Christina Henry — see Micky’s review here
RED WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ ☆ star reads

WICKED FOX by Kat Cho — see Hollis’ review here
FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey — see Hollis’ review here
HITHER, PAGE by Cat Sebastian — see Hollis’ review here
ONE WORD KILL by Mark Lawrence — see Hollis’ review here
LIMITED WISH by Mark Lawrence — see Hollis’ review here
EVERYTHING I DO by MC Frank — see Micky’s review here

☆ ☆ star reads

LIKE A LOVE STORY by Abdi Nazemian — see Hollis’ review here
THE TAKEOVER EFFECT by Nisha Sharma — see Hollis’ (and Micky’s 4 star) review here

star reads

STORM AND FURY by Jennifer L Armentrout — see Hollis’ review here
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by André Aciman — see Hollis’ review here
THE PERFECT DATE by Evelyn Lozada — Micky’s brief review on GR here

DNFs

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS by Rachel Hawkins — Micky’s brief reasons why on GR here



additional reads not reviewed for blog : 9 (most were re-reads
total reads by Micky : 17
favourite read of the month : MAGIC RISES by Ilona Andrews
least favourite read of the month : THE PERFECT DATE by Evelyn Lozanda
most read genre : YA

total reviews by Hollis : 12
favourite read of the month : IF I’M BEING HONEST by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
least favourite read of the month : CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by André Aciman
most read genre : contemporary romance (YA and adult)