Currently Anticipated & Pre-Ordered Titles | 2020

I have a lot of anticipated books this year! I try to keep my TBR somewhat low and realistic to the books that I really want to read. Most of what’s currently on there are books which are announced, but have no release date outside of 2020, or books which are definitely coming out this year, and which I’ve preordered.

Firstly, we have V.E. Schwab. Author of the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy, as well as Vicious and Vengeful (two of my favorites), she has two books which are currently announced. One, is titled The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, and follows a French girl and the devil over the span of 300 years. The book is slated for release in October 2020, but does not yet have a cover. The other is currently untitled, but is a sequel to Vicious and Vengeful. This book does not have a year anywhere attached to it, but whenever it comes out I’ll be rushing to read it.

Next on my list is Grady Hendrix. He’s quickly become my favorite horror author. I have one of his prior works left, but his new release, titled The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is coming out on April 7th of this year. Described as “Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meets Dracula” this book is about a women’s book club which is trying to protect its suburban community from a vampire. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from Quirk Books, so I’m hoping to read this right before it comes out.

Riley Sager is an author who was new to me last year. I read his three previous titles, and his most recent book called Home Before Dark comes out this July. This follows a woman returning to the house that was made famous by her father, a horror writer. The description is ominous, and is vague about whether or not there are paranormal aspects to this book, or if it’s grounded in reality. Either way I’m excited to see what Riley Sager does this time around.

The next one on my list is Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power. I really liked her debut novel, Wilder Girls, last year and I’m excited to see what she continues to do. This is one of the few young adult books that I have on this list. It’s described as horror, but if it’s anything like her previous book, it’ll be more in the vein of Annihilation. This book is also expected to come out in July

Though this book doesn’t have any title, cover, or release information, I’m probably the most excited about it. Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods, and Only Human is writing a new novel under the series title Take Them to the Stars. It looks like this is going to be science fiction, and I’m very excited to see what his next series brings. I’m really hoping that we do get more information about this book soon, and that it comes out in 2020.

Next I have an author who’s new to me, and I’m excited to see what their second novel brings! The Devil and the Dark Water is the newest book by Stuart Turton, author of The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I enjoyed his first book a lot, and I’m excited to see what he continues to do in the mystery genre. Though we don’t have a cover yet, if it’s anything like the design of his first book I’m really excited about it.

My most anticipated fantasy is the spin-off series to the Book of the Ancestor series, titled Book of the Ice. The first book is going to be coming out on April 30th, and is titled The Girl and the Stars. This book brings us back to the planet Abeth from the previous series, but follows a character named Yaz who lives as part of the ice tribes in the book. It’s unclear from the synopsis if this takes place before, during, or after the events of Book of the Ancestor, so I’m really excited to dive into this when it releases.

The final book on this list is from Emily St. John Mandel, who wrote Station Eleven that I read last year. This is her first book since 2014, and is titled The Glass Hotel. The story follows Vincent, a bartender at the Hotel Caiette. Taking place on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. There’s crime, and crisis, and survival, the book is already getting rave reviews. This book just came out two days ago and I’m really excited to start reading it.

These are all of my most anticipated reads for 2020. I’ve got a lot of great authors and reads on this list, and I know that this will also continue to grow as the year goes on.

-Siobhan

Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia | Book Review

★★★☆☆
January 23rd – 24th

This is the third book that I’ve read by Francesca Zappia, and to be honest, after this one I’m thinking that my love for her second book may have been an anomaly.

In theory, this book has everything that I like. Mystery, paranormal powers, ghosts, and a distinct lack of romance (though it did have an annoying amount of mentioning it). In reality, I felt that the book fell flat with many of these elements, and I’m wondering if that’s because of the age range it was written for, or due to the writing.

Mysteries are supposed to be creepy. They should make the hair on the back of your arms stand up, and leave you with a sense of unease. At best, I found the setting for Now Entering Addamsville a type of surface level horror setting that I was not a huge fan of.

The main plot is that Zora Novak has been framed for starting a fire and killing a man. Things only go worse for Zora from there, as she’s outcast and blamed for a series of crimes that she didn’t commit. Zora, who can see ghosts and is hunting a creature called a firestarter, has the whole town against her. She teams up with her cousin Artemis, and the two attempt to clear her name and stop the monster causing havoc in their spooky Indiana town.

The most interesting mystery in the book actually happened five years prior to the events we’re given, when Zora’s mother disappeared without a trace and left her car, and her firestarter hunting to Zora. Through the book, there is a constant reminder that Zora’s mom disappeared, and that Zora doesn’t believe her to be dead. Though some of the other character mysteries had satisfying endings, I felt that this one was left far too open for any satisfaction.

I did like the some of the characters, mainly Zora’s cousin Artemis, and a “good” firestarter named Bach who helps her along the way. I thought that their characters were more interesting, and less angry, than our main character. I think that I have a hard time with angry main characters in general though, so I don’t fault the book for that.

I also appreciated that at the end the book definitely didn’t shy away from gore, and Zora’s fear of fire was written very well. This, combined with the good pacing of the book is what kept it at a three for my rating.

I hope that if Zappia writes in this genre again, we get to see more of a creepy setting. This low rating hasn’t dissuaded me from reading her future books, because I know what her writing is like when she’s touching upon heavier subjects like the schizophrenia in Made You Up, or the anxiety and perfectionism she dictates so beautifully in Eliza and her Monsters. Whenever she announces a new book, I’ll still check it out.

-Siobhan

February TBR | 2020

It’s the second month of the year! I have some ambitious plans for this month, mostly because I’ll have a week away from home where I’m planning on relaxing and reading.

Some of these may seem to come out of nowhere, and that’s mostly because I have a certain type of book that I like reading while on vacation, which is typically more lightweight books and contemporaries. So here are my plans for the full month, and we’ll see how many I can get to:

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Satan Loves You by Grady Hendrix

Reading over this list again, I think my definition of lightweight might differ slightly from the normal definition. Really what I mean by that is books that I think I’m really likely to enjoy, but it’s also typically the only time that I branch into contemporaries. Last year on vacation was the first time that I read a Maria Semple book, and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to try and read more by her.

I’m hoping to read between seven and nine books this month, but even if I just get through about half of this list I’ll be happy.

-Siobhan

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons | Book Review

★★★★★
January 17th – 22nd

Let’s quickly travel back in time, though not to 1985. Not yet. It’s 2011. The Zack Snyder movie for this graphic novel has been out for two years. The graphic novel itself has been out for 24 years. I’m 16 years old. In September of 2011, I’ll start working at my first job, making friends that I’ll have through college and into my adult life. I’m a junior in high school.

In January of 2011, I bought Watchmen at a comic book store I was too terrified to go into by myself. I brought a friend with me, or rather she brought me since I couldn’t drive, and she was exceptionally bored the whole time. She kept asking me if we could leave, if we could go home. I had to say yes, because I didn’t have a car. I bought Watchmen on a whim, familiar with the movie that had come out two years prior, and which I wasn’t allowed to see at the time.

Now, it’s the end of 2019. I’m 25. I’ve carted this copy of Watchmen back and forth to my college dorm two years in a row, back to my parents house, and through two different apartments. Each time I get only one chapter into the book before putting it down. Maybe graphic novels just weren’t for me? Maybe I didn’t like super heroes? Maybe I just didn’t “get it”. Eventually it ends up on a shelf with other graphic novels, most of which I’ve read. I get rid of 50 books, another 50. One hundred books, but not this one. This almost nine year old copy of the graphic novel is still in pristine condition, because I haven’t read it.

Well, now I have. Watchmen was the oldest book on my TBR pile for years. This year I set a goal of finishing the oldest 5 books on that list. Here I am already starting on that goal.

What the hell took me so long?

I’ve read graphic novels before. Last year I read the full Saga series, and I’ve read The Killing Joke, Anya’s Ghost, Mooncop, Beverly, Tetris, and more. For some reason I was really intimidated by Watchmen.

Going into the book, I had zero expectations. I knew of the characters, mainly Nite Owl and Rorschach, but had no idea what the plot of the book was. It was so much more political, and nuanced, than I could even imagine. The main plot is that in 1985 someone seems to be killing and trying to get rid of old vigilantes who have retired. There’s war, and nuclear tension, and castles built of sand on Mars, and secret bases in Antarctica. There’s a pirate storyline paralleled with the events inside the book, which is written by someone relevant to the plot in much later chapters. There’s diversity and varying points of view on all political issues.

If you haven’t read Watchmen, I highly recommend it. If you have read Watchmen, I highly recommend it. I’m so late to the party that it was over before I was even born, but this is still an absolutely fantastic, and relevant, graphic novel. I’m glad that my desire to watch the HBO show, and to get this off of my TBR, finally inspired me to read through this. Ironically, another of my five oldest TBR books is V for Vendetta, so there will definitely be more Alan Moore in my future.

-Siobhan

January Recap | 2020

We’re already one month down! There’s only eleven more to go!

I read six books this month, and I feel like I’m off to a pretty good start with my goal of 52. I also read across a decent variety of genres, with one non-fiction, one young adult fantasy, one adult fantasy, one graphic novel, a contemporary, and one young adult paranormal novel. Next month I’m going to be away for about a week, and I’m definitely looking forward to spending most of that time reading.

Here’s what I read this month!

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire – January 12th – 15th
★★★☆☆

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli – January 16th – 17th
★★★☆☆

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence – January 18th – 20th
★★★★☆

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons – January 17th – 22nd
★★★★★

Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia – January 23rd – 24th
★★★☆☆

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – January 27th – 30th
★★★★★

Overall I’m super happy that I finished the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, and I’m really excited to move on to more of Mark Lawrence’s books in the future, as well as more of Seanan McGuire’s. Celeste Ng totally surprised me with Little Fires Everywhere. But more than anything, I’m glad I finally got to reading Watchmen, but I’ll talk more about that in my upcoming review.
-Siobhan

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence | Book Review

★★★★☆
January 18th – 20th

I put off reading the finale to this series for a very long time. Most of that was because I didn’t want the series to end, but I was also very apprehensive about how I would feel about the ending. From a few reviews I read, people felt just okay, and that concerned me. The first book was such an unexpected surprise, and after feeling like the second book was building up to something large, I couldn’t help but be scared that it would all be for nothing.

I liked this ending a lot. Mark Lawrence set up a lot of questions to be answered, most of which I won’t go into here for spoiler reasons. Seventy pages from the end, I was concerned about the ending. I was afraid of my favorite characters not making it, my favorite plot points going unanswered, and my favorite locations getting burned to the ground. Only some of those things happened.

I have to commend Lawrence for his attention to detail in this series. This is one of the rare cases where I couldn’t find myself wondering why a character didn’t do x thing which seemed slightly more obvious to me. I was constantly surprised by the setup and payoff that he was able to produce, and he’s a master at hinting at things in the beginning which will be needed at the end.

Following the events of the second book, as well as the novella, Nona Grey is back at Sweet Mercy, finishing up her training. This book bounces between present day and three years earlier, when Nona and Zole were escaping from the final events of the previous book. I liked the chance in pace between the two, and the time jumps were crafted so that the lessons learned in each were relevant to the other without it feeling forced.

My favorite part of all three books has always been the combination of the setting and the relationships, and this book was no different. The world building in this series is some of my favorite that I’ve ever read, and I loved seeing Nona’s friendships and what they mean to her grow and continue to expand over the course of the three books. I think that Mark Lawrence did a great job writing a character who grows and changes and becomes an adult from a young kid. It’s also great to see that type of growth in a very dark setting.

I think that for people who were invested in the romantic side of the relationships, this book may have been a slight letdown. Romance is always my least favorite part of books, so I was more than okay with the way the book ended on that front. I honestly wish more books would have hints of romance in the background without feeling the need to pull it into the main plot of the story.

That’s a whole other topic that I won’t get into though.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy and science fiction, and who likes combat and a bit of magic.

I was really excited to learn that Abeth, the planet that the Book of the Ancestor series takes place on, is being returned to in Mark Lawrence’s next series, Book of the Ice. the first book comes out in April. I’m excited to see where that series takes place, and what else Mark Lawrence has in store for me. There are three other series of his which I can also check out in the meantime.

-Siobhan

Author Spotlight – Seanan McGuire

This is something new that I’m trying out! Occasionally, when I’ve read a good number of books by an author, I’d like to try and do an Author Spotlight. The goal of which is to compare their work across a series, and see what other books they have that I’d like to check out. Ideally, I’d like to have completed multiple series if possible when looking to do this, but since the fifth book in the Wayward Children series came out this month, I thought that Seanan McGuire would be a good first candidate to explore.

McGuire is a very interesting author to me, as I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what she has available to read, even after having read five books by her. For starters, she operates under her name, as well as her pen name Mira Grant. Just under her real name, she has written six series, most of which are ongoing. The longest of these is the October Daye series, which currently has 14 books in it. She also writes comics, science fiction, fantasy, and across many other genres.

There’s a lot to unpack with McGuire’s writing, and some of her series have been going on for over 10 years. I’m not yet sure if I’m ready for the type of commitment that requires a ten year series, but I’m open to trying them and seeing how they are.

Here’s what I’ve read of Seanan McGuire: the 5 books in the Wayward Children series. I have reviews out for all of them, and for the most part I’ve definitely enjoyed what they’ve done. Books three and five were not my favorites, but if her other books are even remotely like books two and four then I definitely think I’ll enjoy them. I’ve mentioned this in my reviews, but McGuire writes very lyrically and flowery (at least in the Wayward Children series). I don’t know how this will work in her Mira Grant works, but I’m definitely interested in finding out.

The next book of hers that I’d like to tackle is Middlegame, which is on my TBR for this month, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to finish by the end of the month.

The sheer volume of her novels, both as Seanan McGuire and as Mira Grant is somewhat intimidating, so I think I’d like to start with the first books of each of her longer series, as well as a few of her standalone. As Mira Grant she tends to write more in the horror/thriller category, which I’m also known to enjoy.

So here’s my list of the next three books I’d like to check out by Seanan McGuire:
1. Middlegame
2. Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1)
3. Into the Drowning Deep (as Mira Grant)

We’ll see if I end up getting to these soon, but I’d like to see if her writing stays consistent across more books and series.

-Siobhan