The Books I’m Most Excited to Buy in 2018

Okay so the book situation at my house is a little out of control. I say a little, because really, I do have it under control. It’s not a hoarders situation, there’s just twenty, maybe thirty, okay, fifty, books that don’t fit on any of my bookshelves. But it’s fine. I’ve totally got this.

So while I’m once again technically on a book-buying moratorium (moment of silence here, please), there are a few books I’m irrationally excited to purchase in 2018. Therefore, I will be buying them despite the ban on adding to my collection. Because I just can’t not read them!

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

VICTORY COMES AT A PRICE.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all . . . starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolish everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power . . . for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Slave King, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the war-torn planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-third of his life.
 
A decade ago Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk all he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?
                  
And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: 
                  
A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp, and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.
                  
An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.
                  
And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the Sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe. Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

What begins as a manhunt for the missing daughter of a wealthy tech billionaire becomes something altogether different when the young woman’s body is discovered in an abandoned warehouse in Kew Gardens, Queens, the head nowhere to be found. It appears there may be two killers on the loose–one responsible for the young woman’s death, another responsible for the mutilation. A pair of such dastardly killers requires a team of equally talented investigators. Luckily, both Vincent D’Agosta and Special Agent Pendergast are back in town.

D’Agosta hopes that working a case back on his home turf for the first time in years will reinvigorate the FBI Special Agent and give him an opportunity to flex his investigative might. But neither is prepared to face a killer–or killers–as diabolical as this. It will take all of Pendergast and D’Agosta’s intelligence and strength simply to match wits–let alone stay alive.

 

The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin

Just putting it out there that GRRM is going to pull a Beyonce and just drop the next Game of Thrones book at our feet in 2018 with no warning.

Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas

The conclusion to the Throne of Glass series, the title, cover, and description haven’t been revealed yet. This book is slated for release in Fall 2018.

Which book are you most excited to buy (and read!) in 2018? Tell me in the comments below!

Dragon Teeth

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.

Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition.  But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions.  With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William’s newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the West’s most notorious characters.

It’s always interesting reading a book published posthumously. You always have to wonder how much of the book was “found” and how much was ghostwritten. Since Michael Crichton died, there have been three novels of his published posthumously: Pirate LatitudesMicro, and now Dragon Teeth. I’ve read both Pirate Latitudes and Micro as well as Jurassic ParkThe Lost World, Congo, Prey, The Andromeda Strain, Timeline, Rising Sun, and Next.

I had pretty low expectations for Dragon Teeth. I liked Pirate Latitudes, but not as much as Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Prey, and The Andromeda Strain, which are my favorite Crichton books. I did not like Micro much at all. So coming off of that, I was not expecting much. But this one proved me wrong.

I’ll admit that with the writing of my own novel, my brain has been permanently stuck in the later part of the nineteenth century. So take that as you will. But I really, really liked this one. It was a little rough around the edges, but the concept was fantastic and manages to deliver. Hunting for dinosaur bones in the Wild Wild West? Sign me up!

The story rattles along at a great clip, managing to blend the speed of a thriller with true history and scientific fact. My only criticism is that the narrative voice in this one is a little weird. The introduction purports that the narrator is someone from the future telling the story of William Johnson. Which, ok, that’s fine. It gives a little narrative distance to the story. But it also means that the narrator sometimes delivers a page of straight historical fact or does some really heavy-handed foreshadowing that feels at odds with the story. It wouldn’t be so bad if the narrative came full circle back to whomever this distant narrator is, but the narrator kind of fades out from the story. And the author’s note states that William Johnson is entirely fictitious. So the issue of the distant narrator is never satisfactorily explained.

Aside from these momentary oddities, this is a very solid novel. According to the afterward from his wife, it seems Crichton might have been working on this book as early as 1973. So possibly some of the stuff that’s rough around the edges is merely the work of a less experienced writer that didn’t get edited out because they wanted to leave the story intact as they found it? I have no idea, but I think it’s a plausible theory.

I will say though, in my opinion while Dragon Teeth does not squeeze out any of my top four Crichton novels, it’s earned itself the last spot in the top 5. It’s a fun ride from start to finish.

The Assassin’s Blade

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

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In my review of Heir of Fire, I was debating at what point I should read these novellas. In terms of publication dates, this collection was published after Crown of Midnight and before Heir of Fire. After reading this collection, I think that’s a good point to read these novellas. It doesn’t ruin anything for Heir of Fire, but provides more depth for the events of Crown of Midnight. Though the point I read it at wasn’t bad either.

The publication of novellas seems to be trend among publishers. Feeding readers novellas while they wait for the next one in the series. Sarah J. Maas is not the only one to have gone down this path. Victoria Aveyard published Cruel Crown which contained two Red Queen novellas,  Tahereh Mafi published Destroy Me and Fracture Me, two separate Shatter Me novellas, and Veronica Roth published Four, a collection of Divergent novellas. Lest you think this is limited to YA, George R.R. Martin has written several Game of Thrones novellas contained in the collection A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. So if you didn’t think world-building and character backstory was important before, now you know that if you publish a best-selling series, most likely you’ll be called upon to turn some of your private notes into a series of novellas for public consumption!

Not that I’m dragging on The Assassin’s Blade. I thought it was great! Five novellas that encompass the pivotal events that led to Celaena’s capture and sentencing to Endovier. A very interesting look at those events and the character’s thought process and how that contributes to her development and our understanding of her. Also, I kind of want more of these. Celaena’s like a cross between James Bond and Assassin’s Creed – I want to see more of her adventures as Adarlan’s Assassin before the events that start with Throne of Glass!

Legend

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

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I made a mistake. On my last trip to Colorado I only brought ONE book with me (!) That went about how you’d expect it to go…ending with me visiting a bookstore, looking for a paperback for the plane, and starting yet another series. Le sigh.

But. At least this book has been on my TBR for a long time now. So there’s that.

I ended up reading the whole book during the plane ride which is 2 hours and 25 minutes so yeah…you could say I liked it! And just like that, I’m lusting after another trilogy. Ugh. At least the two books are out so I don’t have to wait for them to be published…

I read the About the Author section and curiously enough, Legend was inspired by the relationship between Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. Like Throne of Glass, you would never guess the inspiration for the story without being told. I enjoy finding little easter eggs like that.

Legend was fast-paced, entertaining, and still managed to bring something new to the genre. I’m such a sucker for smart characters and even smarter writing and this book had both in droves. I really liked both June and Day and am excited to see where the series takes them. I did not see the plot twists coming, which is always a bonus. Another solid entry in the dystopian YA genre. At the last conference I went to, one of the agents said dystopian YA is over for now which makes me a little sad as that is one of my favorite genres to read. But at least I haven’t exhausted the supply yet!

One thing I’m curious about in the series is if The Republic was the result of California seceding from the rest of the US…it does certainly seem like that’s a possibility here. I hope it’s addressed sooner rather than later!

 

 

The Obsidian Chamber

The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

A TRAGIC DISAPPEARANCE
After a harrowing, otherworldly confrontation on the shores of Exmouth, Massachussetts, Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast is missing, presumed dead.
A SHOCKING RETURN
Sick with grief, Pendergast’s ward, Constance, retreats to her chambers beneath the family mansion at 891 Riverside Drive–only to be taken captive by a shadowy figure from the past.
AN INTERNATIONAL MANHUNT
Proctor, Pendergast’s longtime bodyguard, springs to action, chasing Constance’s kidnapper through cities, across oceans, and into wastelands unknown.
BUT IN A WORLD OF BLACK AND WHITE, NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
And by the time Proctor discovers the truth, a terrifying engine has stirred-and it may already be too late . .

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Ok let’s just start by saying there’s no such thing as a bad Pendergast novel. There’s just degrees of greatness.

The Obsidian Chamber was not one of the greats. But…

SPOILER ALERT

and this is hardly a spoiler if you read the damn book jacket, but I’ve never liked any of the books about Diogenes and this was no exception. Some people I guess really love Diogenes, but I don’t. I am unhappy he’s been resurrected.

END SPOILER

I’ve liked Constance through most of the series, but my patience for the direction her character is going in was wearing thin in the last book. This book really tried my patience.

I loved Proctor’s adventure though! So nice to see Proctor get some time in the spotlight after so many books (16!) as a shadowy figure.

And D’Agosta made an appearance in this book! I hope he’s more central in the next book, I miss him. Love Laura, too.

This book was much slower than the previous one in the series, Crimson Shoreand nowhere near as crazy…but then, that book was pretty crazy. I would put this book on par with the Helen Trilogy…not as good as some of the recent standalones like White Fire, Blue Labyrinth, and Crimson Shore.

For all its faults, The Obsidian Chamber is head and shoulders above the mess that was Gideon’s Sword. And for that I’m very grateful!

Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

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I started this pretty much immediately after finishing Six of Crows. I just could not wait to start reading the next book.

I really enjoyed Crooked Kingdom, but ever so slightly less than Six of Crows. The stakes are higher for the crew in Six of Crow.This book has more heartbreak, but also more redemption. The action is good. The characters are still just as good. But there were more places where the writing just didn’t quite work for me. Nothing major, just subtle things that felt much too cheesy for a wildly imaginative, enthralling book. But overall, a great wrap-up to this duology…if it truly is the end. I was kind of doubtful if this is truly the end of the duology based on the ending. Also, I could see a few characters getting their own spinoff books….particularly Nina and Inej.

I definitely want to read Leigh Bardugo’s earlier series in the Grisha world. Hopefully I’ll acquire the first book in that series, Shadow and Bone, later in the year. I really need to read some of what I have first…I have literal waist-high piles of books that don’t fit on the shelves. There are worse problems to have though.

One more note on this book…the edges of this book are red!!

Click here to purchase: Crooked Kingdom: A Sequel to Six of Crows

Morning Star

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.

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What a series! The three books Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star were just masterful from start to finish. To me, this is what a series should be. Three books that powerfully move the whole story forward without falling into the trilogy trap.

I’ve recently been working on revising one of my own books and I’ve been thinking a lot about energy, conflict, and tension. This series has it in spades. If that’s an area you struggle with in your own writing, I recommend reading this series to see how one author handles it. Pierce Brown really messes with his characters at every opportunity and it makes for an amazing read.

No spoilers in this one…just wow, wow, wow, go buy this and read it!

I think this series has already been optioned for a movie, but I think it would make a wonderful mini series or tv show like Game of Thrones. I think that would give more time to really develop these complex characters and this world. Regardless, I’m excited to see what Pierce Brown writes next!

Click here to buy: Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy (The Red Rising Series)

Click here to buy the box set: The Red Rising Trilogy (3 Book Series)