Book News, Book Reviews, Books, News, Reviews

Need some new reads? Here are our upcoming review books

We here at Lytherus are always getting advanced copies of books sent our way, and we love having the chance to read and review those stories for our readers. Well, there’s been a bit of an influx of books the past few months, so we’re going to be staggering the reviews a bit, but we thought we’d share what books we have coming up in case you want to add them to your TBR pile. And bonus, there may be some extra goodies like exclusive giveaways and interviews!

Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure, by Brandon Mull, published March 14, 2017

In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens, but prisons and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies….

In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?

Blood Rose Rebellion, by Rosalyn Eves, published March 28, 2017

“A magical tale unlike anything you’ve read before.” —Bustle.com

“[A] richly imagined 19th-century historical fantasy.” —EW.com, A-

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

“A fast-paced historical fantasy full of magic, romance, and adventure!”—JESSICA DAY GEORGE, New York Times bestselling author of Silver in the Blood

Royal Bastards, by Andrew Shvarts, published May 30, 2017

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children. At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children. Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness. Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead–with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery. The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart–if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

 

Julia Defiant, by Catherine Egan, published June 13th, 2017

Fans of The Rose Society, Graceling, and Six of Crows will thrill to the masterful world-building and fiercely flawed heroine in this heart-pounding follow-up to Julia Vanishes, book two in the Witch’s Child trilogy.
 
“Adventure, murder, romance, intrigue, and betrayal with a 16-year-old heroine that is both fierce and flawed at the same time.” —Hypable.com
 
Julia and a mismatched band of revolutionaries, scholars, and thieves have crossed the world searching for a witch. But for all the miles traveled, they are no closer to finding Ko Dan. No closer to undoing the terrible spell he cast that bound an ancient magic to the life of a small child. Casimir wants that magic—will happily kill Theo to extract it—and every moment they hunt for Ko Dan, Casimir’s assassins are hunting them.
Julia can deal with danger. The thing that truly scares her lies within. Her strange ability to vanish to a place just out of sight has grown: she can now disappear so completely that it’s like stepping into another world. It’s a fiery, hellish world, filled with creatures who seem to recognize her—and count her as one of their own.
So . . . is Julia a girl with a monster lurking inside her? Or a monster wearing the disguise of a girl?
If she can use her monstrous power to save Theo, does it matter?
In this riveting second book in the Witch’s Child trilogy, Catherine Egan goes deep within the heart of a fierce, defiant girl trying to discover not just who but what she truly is.

Praise for Julia Vanishes:

“Egan’s debut novel sparkles. A beautifully rendered world and exquisite sense of timing ensure a page-turning experience.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Readers will find themselves immediately immersed in the narrative and invested in the fate of Julia, who is both feisty and flawed.” —Booklist, starred review

“Julia’s a wonderful, fully realized heroine. . . . For those readers waiting for the sequel to Marie Lu’s The Rose Society, a well-realized page-turner in the same vein.” —Kirkus
 

Spoonbenders, by Daryl Gregory, published June 27, 2017

“Hilarious, heartfelt and brimming with humanity.” —Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

Teddy Telemachus is a charming con man with a gift for sleight of hand and some shady underground associates. In need of cash, he tricks his way into a classified government study about telekinesis and its possible role in intelligence gathering. There he meets Maureen McKinnon, and it’s not just her piercing blue eyes that leave Teddy forever charmed, but her mind—Maureen is a genuine psychic of immense and mysterious power. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry, have three gifted children, and become the Amazing Telemachus Family, performing astounding feats across the country. Irene is a human lie detector. Frankie can move objects with his mind. And Buddy, the youngest, can see the future. Then one night tragedy leaves the family shattered.

Decades later, the Telemachuses are not so amazing. Irene is a single mom whose ear for truth makes it hard to hold down a job, much less hold together a relationship. Frankie’s in serious debt to his dad’s old mob associates. Buddy has completely withdrawn into himself and inexplicably begun digging a hole in the backyard. To make matters worse, the CIA has come knocking, looking to see if there’s any magic left in the Telemachus clan. And there is: Irene’s son Matty has just had his first out-of-body experience. But he hasn’t told anyone, even though his newfound talent might just be what his family needs to save themselves—if it doesn’t tear them apart in the process.

Harnessing the imaginative powers that have made him a master storyteller, Daryl Gregory delivers a stunning, laugh-out-loud new novel about a family of gifted dreamers and the invisible forces that bind us all.

Gork the Teenage Dragon, by Gabe Hudson, published July 11, 2017

A wacky, exuberant, heartfelt debut novel: the unholy child of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Harry Potter, and Sixteen Candles—and this time with dragons.

“No good human won’t love this dragon named Gork.” —Dave Eggers

“A one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story.” —Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate

Gork isn’t like the other dragons at WarWings Military Academy. He has a gigantic heart, two-inch horns, and an occasional problem with fainting. His nickname is Weak Sauce and his Will to Power ranking is Snacklicious—the lowest in his class. But he is determined not to let any of this hold him back as he embarks on the most important mission of his life: tonight, on the eve of his high school graduation, he must ask a female dragon to be his queen. If she says yes, they’ll go off to conquer a foreign planet together. If she says no, Gork becomes a slave.

Vying with Jocks, Nerds, Mutants, and Multi-Dimensioners to find his mate, Gork encounters an unforgettable cast of friends and foes, including Dr. Terrible, the mad scientist; Fribby, a robot dragon obsessed with death; and Metheldra, a healer specializing in acupuncture with swords. But finally it is Gork’s biggest perceived weakness, his huge heart, that will guide him through his epic quest and help him reach his ultimate destination: planet Earth.

A love story, a fantasy, and a coming-of-age story, Gork the Teenage Dragon is a wildly comic, beautifully imagined, and deeply heartfelt debut novel that shows us just how human a dragon can be.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer, by Leigh Bardugo, published August 29, 2017

The highly anticipated, entirely new coming-of-age story for the world’s greatest super hero: WONDER WOMAN by the # 1 New York Times bestselling author LEIGH BARDUGO.

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Act fast! The first printing includes a poster of Diana! Each first printing in the DC Icons series will have a limited-edition poster—collect them all to create the full image!

Warbringer is straight-up dazzling, every sentence waking up your senses with a ‘Yeah, that’s right, this is BRAND-NEW, SUCKAS!’ punch.”
—LIBBA BRAY, New York Times bestselling author of The Diviners

“Will absolutely satisfy pre-existing fans of Wonder Woman, but it also readily stands alone for non-superhero fans.”
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Wonder Woman is the epitome of a kick-butt heroine, and Bardugo does her justice with aplomb.”
The Bulletin

“Bardugo breathes zippy new life into the story with a twisty plot, whip-smart characters, and her trademark masterful writing.”
—Booklist

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

What Are We Reading? One Blogger’s List of Under-The-Radar Books

I read A LOT. My average is at least one book a week, but sometimes, like recently, I can read a book in a day. So I have a lot of things I can suggest to interested readers, whether here on the website, at the bookstore I work at, or in general in my life. This list was something I’ve been wanting to put together for a while now, because, though I read a lot of what’s popular (The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Mortal Instruments, and on and on…), there are some series that I adore that more often than not tend to fall under the radar.

My area of interest is YA, so most of the books will be in that genre, but there are a few that are from regular adult fantasy or sci-fi. Also, I need to state that yes, some of these series are New York Times bestsellers, so I’m sure some of the readers here on Lytherus will have heard of or even read these books. But more often than not I’ve found that these tend to be new reads for people, so that’s why I’ve included them. Enjoy!

The Books of Pellinor

(Alison Croggon)

This is my favorite YA high fantasy series, period. I discovered this series a few years ago and devoured it. I actually had to chase down the third book in this four-book set from one of the city libraries, as my local bookstore didn’t carry it and the library I use was out of it, that’s how badly I wanted to continue reading.

Sixteen-year old Maerad is rescued from a miserable life of slavery by a mysterious bard with magical powers named Cadvan. Together they journey to a Bard School, where Maerad learns that she isn’t just an ordinary person, but that she is one foretold of, the one who will basically save the world. The magic of this land is through music, which I really loved, and though a good chunk of the series takes place during various journeys, so much is revealed that these became my favorite parts. Any lovers of high fantasy in the feel of Tolkein should check this series out!

The books are, in order: The Naming, The Riddle, The Crow, and The Singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Time Quintet

(Madeleine L’Engle)

I first read A Wrinkle In Time in seventh grade as an English assignment. Like most books school forced me to read, the beauty and value of this story was lost on me at the time. I’m so glad I decided to revisit these books in college, as they are now some of my most beloved.

Tesseracts, the term for a way to bend space. This is what Meg Murray comes to find out her scientist parents have discovered. This knowledge is reavealed to her not by normal means, but by an eccentric stranger appearing on their doorstep in the middle of the night. Meg’s father has disappeared, and it has to do with his involvement in the Tesseract discovery. It’s up to Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin to save him. And such begins the Newberry-award-winning A Wrinkle in Time.

The adventures of the Murray children continues through each book, and though these books aren’t commonly seen as Christian fiction, L’Engle mixes the secular and scientific with the spiritual to create stories that are complex and completely absorbing.

This series originally was four books (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters), but there are other books that L’Engle wrote in the same world, and so now An Acceptable Time has been added on. If you end up reading the first four, and want to read An Acceptable Time, make sure you also check out A House Like a Lotus, which isn’t included in these five but goes hand-in-hand with the last book, and the series in general (and is very good!).

The Beggar’s Series

(Nancy Kress)

Hugo and Nebula-award-winning author Nancy Kress created the first book in this trilogy, Beggars in Spain, from a novella that won her those awards.

Leisha Camden is a little different. She is one of a few special people who were modified genetically at birth (sometime in the near future), when parents were given the options to create the baby of their dreams. Her biggest change? She doesn’t need to sleep. Ever. This alteration stopped being offered after the side-effects (super-intelligence, perfect health, and inability to age) were discovered. But by this point Leisha and others like her were in the world trying to fit in and exist where many looked upon them in fear and envy.

This book was simply fascinating. Kress does a fantastic job with the story and plot, but it was really interesting to see the main character interact with her twin sister, who is perfectly normal. Imagine the rivalry there! I thought this series was a great take on genetics and was really great sci-fi that didn’t feel like Dune or Ender’s Game. This is an awesome science fiction series, but be warned: it is definitely heavy on the technical science end, so be aware if this isn’t your thing.

The books are Beggars in Spain, Beggars and Choosers, and Beggars Ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Darkest Powers Trilogy

(Kelley Armstrong)

Though this series is a New York Times best-seller, I have yet to meet anyone else who has read these books! And that is a shame, because they are definitely worth the time. 

The series starts off with The Summoning, and is followed by The Awakening and The Reckoning. The premise is that the main character, fifteen-year-old Chloe, is placed in a home for troubled teens after she has a breakdown and is diagnosed as having Schizophrenia. Really what happened is she sees dead people. And the longer she’s at the Lyle house, the more she realizes that the other kids, in their own ways, are like her, and something fishy is going on.

there are definitely some creep-tastic scenes that gave me the chills when reading them (what would you expect when your protagonist is a necromancer?!), and an unlikely, unpredictable romance adds a nice counter to the plot of trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

This series was great, and I’d encourage fans of urban fantasy or paranormal romance to give it a shot.

Gregor: The Underland Chronicles

(Suzanne Collins)

Superstar author Suzanne Collins is a household name in the literary world, thanks to her amazing dystopian series The Hunger Games. But that is Collins’ second series. Her first is one of my all-time favorites, and one I re-read often, Gregor: The Underland Chronicles.

Collins, when she set out to write the Gregor the Overlander series said she wanted it to be like Alice in Wonderland for people who live in the city. Twelve-year-old Gregor, with his toddler sister, goes to the basement of their New York City apartment to do laundry. They end up falling through the vent to a whole world deep underneath the city. There are giant talking cockroaches (which are surprisingly awesome), huge talking bats that people can ride, enormous talking rats, and humans with luminescent transparent skin, white hair, and violet eyes. Of course there is a prophecy which involves Gregor, which keeps him coming back again and again to help the beings of this world. 

The characters are wonderful, and are my favorite part of the series. The world is amazing, and the interactions between Gregor and his sister and all the Underlanders is fascinating. But at its core this series is an all-out adventure, and each book builds on the last while still having its own self-contained adventure. I love love LOVE this series and I definitely encourage fans of light fantasy and talking animals to check it out.

The series in order is: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, and Gregor and the Code of Claw.

The Classic Tales of Partholon

(P. C. Cast)

These books have been around since the mid 2000’s, but because of P. C. Cast’s recent popularity with the House of Night books, they have been re-issued with updated covers. It seems like there are six books written in this world; I have five of them, having only discovered the sixth one the other day (it’s called Divine Beginnings, and it is in e-book format only). The first three, Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, and Divine by Blood, center around a human, Shannon Parker, who on her vacation picks up a magical Grecian-style vase (unbeknown to her), which teleports her into the body of an ancient goddess-on-earth, days before she is to be wed… to a centaur. The story only gets better from this point as Shannon tries to figure out how to function in this alien body and this foreign world.

The two books I want to focus on, however, are ones set in the same world, which take place over a hundred years later: Elphame’s Choice and Brighid’s Quest. These are set completely in the world of Partholon. The characters are in the aftermath of what occurred in the previous books, and the main characters, part of the ‘royal’ family, try and make their own mark on the world. These are consecutive, so you get to stick with the same characters for a while, which I like. It’s also fun that the title characters aren’t entirely human: Elphame is a faun and Brighid is a centaur.

Two words of advice on these. One, the entire series has some pretty heavy and graphic sex scenes, so if that isn’t your thing this is a series to stay clear of. And two, though I prefer the latter two books, reading the earlier ones (which are still quite enjoyable) makes it easier to understand what’s happening in the world overall.

The Parasol Protectorate

(Gail Carriger)

This series is dear to my heart because it was my first introduction into the world of Steampunk, which has now become one of my favorite genres to read. I sort of fell into discovering this series, but I’m so happy that I did!

The first three books in this five book series (Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless) are currently out, with book four, Heartless, to be released this summer.

The time is turn-of-the-century Victorian England. But in this world, there are vampires and werewolves running about, which in and of itself makes things interesting. To make it even more interesting, our main character, Alexia Tarabotti, has no soul, the interesting side-effect of which negates any supernatural powers or the aforementioned beings.

But the thing that makes this series great is that she writes with the feel of the era, which makes these books charming, funny, and believable, despite their supernatural elements. One of the first scenes in the book is Alexia getting attacked by a vampire in a library who has (Heaven forbid!) a lisp! She is thoroughly affronted by this breech in manners. And so begins what is one of the most delightful, fun, suspenseful, adventurous series I’ve read in a long time. If any of this interests you, or if you’ve always been curious about Steampunk but aren’t sure where to start (this is a good choice, the Steampunk elements in it are rather mild in comparison to some things I’ve read), definitely check out these books.


The Dark is Rising Sequence

(Susan Cooper)

This series is another one that came into my life thanks to assigned reading in school. But don’t be fooled. This series is one that everyone can enjoy. You know how some people have books they re-read every year? This series is that for me.

The five books in order are: Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising; Greewitch; The Grey King; and Silver on the Tree.


One of the great things about this series is that, in book one you have three siblings as the main characters, in book two you have someone different (an eleven-year-old boy named Will Stanton), but in books three four and five, they come together, even though they don’t know each other prior to the adventure they find themselves in.

The Dark is rising to destroy the earth. Its powers are building, and the Light only has so much time to mount a resistance. They are looking for items of power to help them stand up to the Dark: A Chalice, a Harp, and six  signs, objects made from the various elements. And that is what the first four books in the series are about, in essence: a race against the baddies to get the items of power.

Two of the books in this series are Newberry books, one a winner and one an Honor book, which means that, though they are a great adventure, they are good literature too. Also, something else fun about them is the overlying theme of King Arthur that comes into play. This book isn’t too heavy on that aspect, it’s more about the upcoming battle for all of humanity, but it adds a nice, believable element all the same. This series has also made me want to visit Wales. Book four teaches the reader how to read Welsh through the characters, and the descriptions make it sound breathtaking.

This is really high up on my must-read list if you like well-written stories with adventure and fantasy elements in them.

The Study Books

(Maria V. Snyder)

Jackie (the Comics Guru here on Lytherus) is one of my best friends, and I discovered these books on her bookshelf when I was cat-sitting for her once. They are wonderful, easy, and absorbing reads that make you wonder where the time goes. 

The three books in the series are Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study. The premise alone sounded interesting: the main character Yelena is the food taster to the king, the one to try everything first, in case it is poisoned. She was set to be killed, and this seemed like a nice reprieve from, you know, certain death. But this offer comes with a price, besides the obvious chance poisioning: the head of security actually did poison her with the world’s most deadliest poison, and she needs to come to him daily for the antidote, or she’ll be dead by morning. Why did he do this? To keep her close because she’s supposedly dangerous and he doesn’t trust her. Of course she soon develops magical powers she can’t control (gotta have a little fantasy in my books, if you haven’t noticed!), and things just keep mounting one after the other in the world around her as she slowly discovers the role the has to play is more than just as the food taster.

This series is enjoyable. I loved the characters, and it had a different feel than the types of common fantasy out there. that are currently popular. It is more high fantasy than anything, but it is so character-focused that the world really takes a backseat to the wonderful development of Yelena’s life. And there is great romance elements throughout the series, not the typical, predictable kind, which only makes it better. I must also note that the first book in the series was Snyder’s debut book, and she has come to publish a lot more recently, thanks to her successes. Definitely check this series out.

Fablehaven

(Brandon Mull)

Siblings Kendra and Seth spend the summer with grandparents they hardly know on their farm. But their farm isn’t just a regular farm; it’s a haven for magical creatures. And so begins the five-book epic series by Brandon Mull, which has become one of my favorite series.

As the story progresses, the reader learns that there are havens like this all over the world, sworn to protect that which is slowly disappearing. A few of these are special though; they contain magical items of power, that if brought together have the ability to destroy the world.

Of course there is a bad guy after these things, so Kendra and Seth race against time to try and stop him.

That’s the basic plot of the story arc. But there are soooo many other amazing elements to this book. Every type of fantasy fairy creature you can think of appears somewhere in the series. And there are amazing mazes the kids need to navigate to get to the items of power, which in and of themselves are really cool and well-written. Adventure aside though, the character development is fantastic and complex. The journey Kendra and Seth go on, the things they experience together and apart, make for some of the best YA fantasy out there now, in my opinion. Not high fantasy by any means, but just creative and well-done. This truly is one of the best series I’ve read in recent years, and I recommend it all the time.

The books, in order, are: Fablehaven; Fablehaven:Rise of the Evening Star; Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague; Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary; and Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison.