As you might be able to guess from the sheer volume of books in the graphic above, I did a lot of stress reading! I am ~10 days out from my dissertation (masters, physics) deadline and it’s been an absolute ride that honestly read like a farce when I had to write up the “this is everything that went wrong outside my control” form. But it did mean that I made a fair amount of progress on review copies and backlist books.
Best New Release
THE EMBROIDERED BOOK, by Kate Heartfield, is the sort of historical fantasy I utterly adore. It closely follows the real events in the lives of Marie Antoinette and her sister Charlotte, but with an added layer of secret magical factions pushing and pulling underneath all the tensions.
The way the magic was used in this (absolutely hefty) book was so clever, playing off the real events but with a spin. There were two particular events that had me squealing with how the magic played into the real world incidents.
Best Backlist Read
I finally, finally got around to reading THE FAITHLESS HAWK, by Margaret Owen, the sequel to her debut novel, THE MERCIFUL CROW. This is a duology where different castes have magic, and the lowest – the caste who take away the bodies of plague victims – have no innate magic, but some can use the power left in the teeth of other castes.
The voice in this duology is amazing, and this book has more politics now that Fie has delivered the prince (who was pretending to be dead) to his supposed allies.
Most Surprising Read
Having not got on marvellously with her Middle Grade, I was very surprised when I was absolutely blown away by WHEN WOMEN WERE DRAGONS, by Kelly Barnhill. This is her Young Adult debut (though, honestly, I’d say it would be better off sold as adult due to the tone and themes.)
Women sometimes spontaneously become dragons, but society hushes it up. This is the story of 1950s and ’60s America after a mass dragoning, and the effect both the loss of so many women and the state-endorsed hush-up has on those left behind.
Best UK-Authored Read
The premise of EQUINOX, by David Towsey, is what first drew my attention to this book. Each body is inhabited by two souls, one who is awake in the day and one who lives during the night. Christophor is an investigator who is around in the night, sent to a small rural village to investigate why a boy, a criminal, sent from there now has teeth growing where his eyes are.
That very unsettling event really sets the tone for this book, where witchcraft and the end of the world prophecies collide, and events across day and night have to be investigated by someone only awake for one of them.
UNDER FORTUNATE STARS, by Ren Hutchings, is the sort of book where the phrase “timey-wimey, spacey-wacey” applies perfectly. I devoured an ARC in a matter of hours, hooked onto this story about time travel/time slippages, and what happens when past and future collide.
The heroes of the past (who have no intention to be heroes) and those who’s benefited from the peace wrought by said heroes find themselves in a rift outside of time. The future is in jeopardy unless they can escape the rift, and convince the supposed heroes to be heroes in truth.
Most Anticipated May Release
My rule is that I cannot include a book I’ve already read here, otherwise I’d be spotlighting THE STARDUST THIEF by Chelsea Abdullah (which I love.) Therefore, the book I’ve chosen is TWIN CROWNS, by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber (which was top of my most anticipated books of January to June list!)
I love the Middle grade they write (Webber’s under “Katie Tsang” with her husband Kevin) so I am very excited to see these two UKMG giants team up for a YA fantasy that is reported full of humour and swoony romance. It’s also projected to be the biggest YA fantasy release of the summer (and possibly even the year.)
How was your April?