Hello, lovelies! I am back with another list of books that I think I want to read in the near future. I shared my physical tbr and my ebook tbr earlier this month. I also wanted to share what audiobooks I have on my radar for my long drive. I will be driving for four days with two kids. So, we’re taking our time and seeing friends along the way. I will have lots of time to listen.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare I’m participating in #READShadiwhunter which is hosted by the always wonderful Books in the Skye. I’ve reread this whole series via audio and really had fun, so I’m going to do it again leading up to the release of Chain of Thorns.
Frostbite by Richelle Mead I was in an audiobook slump, so I restarted this series. I made it through the first book. I didn’t pick up the second because I’m saving this series to pick up again when I can’t get into any other audiobooks. So, I have this one borrowed as a palate cleanser for my ears.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown I really want to reread this series but part of me wants to read it physically since I did the audiobooks the first time around. The narrator for this series is incredible though.
The Counselors by Jessica Goodman This is a recent release that I have on hold with my library. Goodman’s mysteries are fun and easy to follow so I wouldn’t be mad if my hold came in time for my drive.
My Imaginary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton I’ve done the last few books in this series on audio and is like to continue that. This is a new release that, once again, I have on hold with my library.
These are all subject to change as I can be really weird about what audiobooks I want to listen to. Sometimes I’ll go through an hour of five different audiobooks before I settle on a narrator and story that catches my attention.
Share your favorite audiobooks with me in the comments so I have some new ones to try out!
Hi, lovelies! I had a friend (Hi, Ari!) ask me if I had any posts where I recommended shorter audiobooks since she has trouble listening to longer ones. So, I’ve come today with a list of books written in verse, novellas, and even some non-fiction that I read and loved on audio.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo Audiobook Length: 3 hours 30 minutes This is a YA novel written in verse. It’s also narrated by the author who has won awards for her poetry performances.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey Audiobook Length: 3 hours 52 minutes Midwestern (but in the future) librarians or something. This was quick but had a really interesting setting/world.
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green Audiobook Length: 10 hours 3 minutes (Okay, this one isn’t short. But it’s a book of essays sort of, so you can listen in little bits and pieces easily.) Green narrates the audiobook and it’s a series of reviews of strange things. But really he’s telling stories. I really loved it.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire Audiobook Length: 4 hours 45 minutes This series asks, what happened to the kids that returned from alternate worlds? I love this world and the children in it. Book two is my favorite. All of the audiobooks have different narrators, but the author narrates at least one.
Yearbook by Seth Rogan Audiobook Length: 6 hours 13 minutes I’m a big fan of Rogan’s movies. So, when a friend told me he’d published Yearbook I checked to see if my library had the audiobook. Rogan narrates this book. I loved his narration (and the guests involved) but I really didn’t love the weird sound effects that were included. I listened in spite of the sound effects and still enjoyed the story that Rogan shared.
Do you listen to short audiobooks or do you prefer longer ones?
Summary: Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world’s future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story. From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined. Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come. Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us – and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face. It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.
Review: The Ministry for the Future follows several different characters over several different years. It was a strange story because I was never really sure where it was going outside of ‘how do we save the Earth?’ It seemed liked it was going to, and it did with character relationships, but the whole plot was about how to stop climate change. Now, I liked the story of climate change visibly worsening, and the sometimes-outlandish things that were tried to have any sort of positive impact. But we followed some characters really closely and got to know them really intimately. I thought all of these characters were unique and made the story more interesting. Overall, this book was enjoyable. I think that’s partly because I listened to the audiobook which has a full cast of narrators. I think they did a great job bringing this story to life. I think my issue with this book is that I wasn’t expecting it to be such a character-driven story. I still liked it, but it wasn’t what I expected. I will for sure recommend this one to other sci-fi lovers.
Summary: As book three of the Greystone Secrets series opens, the Greystone kids have their mother back from the evil alternate world, and so does their friend Natalie. But no one believes the danger is past. Then mysterious coins begin falling from unexpected places. They are inscribed with codes that look just like what the Greystones’ father was working on before he died. And with the right touch, those symbols transform into words: PLEASE LISTEN. And FIND US, SEE US, HELP US. . . . The coins are messengers, telling the Greystones and their allies that their friends in the alternate world are under attack—and that the cruel, mind-controlling forces are now invading the better world, too. After another spinning, sliding journey across worlds, the Greystone kids must solve mysteries that have haunted them since the beginning: what happened when the Gustanos were kidnapped, what created the alternate world, and how a group of mismatched kids can triumph once and for all against an evil force that seems to have total control.
Review: The Messengers is the third and final book in the Greystone Secrets trilogy. I really liked the first two books and I actually reread them before finishing the series with this conclusion. We are still following the three Greystone siblings, Chess, Emma, and Finn. They tell us about how their mom’s double knocks on their door with her three kids that were just like Chess, Emma, and Finn, but maybe they actually weren’t. The two families work together to change things for the better before the mayor takes over both worlds. I really loved this book and this whole series. I’m glad I reread the first two before this one because the series as one long story is a good one, but also each book is its own great adventure. This finale was no different. The kids faced tough challenges and had to think quickly and cleverly. Overall, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more new books by Haddix and probably even rereading some of her backlist.
Summary: Eileen, newly single and about to turn eighty, would like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. Then in bustling London, Eileen’s twentysomething, overachieving granddaughter Leena is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work. Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen will live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will rest and take care of things in rural Yorkshire. But trading places isn’t as easy as either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find love?
Review: The Switch follows grandmother, Eileen, and granddaughter, Leena. The two are both at tumultuous places in their lives, so they switch places. Leena moves into her grandmother’s house in a small town. Eileen moves into Lena’s London apartment with roommates and all. Both struggle with the change but ultimately figure out something important. I listened to the audiobook and the two narrators did a great job with this story. Leena is going through some stuff with her job and she’s still grieving the death of her sister. She takes time off from her job and takes over her grandmother’s duties around town, like driving some of the residents around town. She slows down from what she’s used to and gets to know the people in this small town. Eileen is doing the opposite and she’s trying new things left and right. She’s signed up for online dating and she’s enjoying it. She has managed to change some things in the apartment building and befriended all the neighbors. I enjoyed both stories individually, but I also really enjoyed them when they intertwined. I thought there was going to be a twist in the story that I really didn’t like, but the author managed to spin it in a way that I didn’t mind. I liked that they both got a happily ever after sort of ending. Overall, I really liked this book and I will definitely be reading more from O’Leary.
Summary: When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet. But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it. As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. But I did actually end up listening to the finished audiobook that I borrowed from my local library. I didn’t love this book like I thought it was going to. I thought that it was lacking in a few of my favorite things about mystery/thrillers. There was a real lack of suspense and little to no stakes for the story to just go “ha ha no one did it?” It felt like nothing happened the whole book. A murder mystery should have the stakes slowly raised and I feel like that didn’t happen. It felt like we just did a character-by-character investigation with a backstory with each of the characters. I honestly could have gone for a little info-dumping over the oversharing that I feel like we got with this story. I still liked the idea of a competitive scrabble community. I’m sure this is something that exists out there and I love it. Really niche hobbies like this are really interesting to me. I really liked how the main character had turned her love for scrabble into an incredible vocabulary. I did like Najwa. The way that she thought was really engaging for the story. She’s the reason that I finished the book even though I didn’t really love the story. I did I love the casual mention of putting her hijab on and things like that which we get a few times in the book. While I didn’t love this one, I think it was an issue with my reading lately, and not the fault of the story. I will still be recommending this one in the future.
Summary: Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship? But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne. Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.
Review: I’m going to preface this review with the fact that I listened to this book and wrote this review mostly while taking care of my six-week-old baby, so it’ll probably be a little more disorganized than my usual reviews. I’m not really sure if I have the brain space to write this review, but I really loved this book so I want to share that love and recommend it. Crownchasers follows a group of characters that are racing around space on what was essentially a scavenger hunt for the ability to become the next ruler. That’s an incredibly simplified explanation of this book, but I don’t think I could coherently explain it all in more detail without spoilers. I really enjoyed the universe. It was explained well and easy to understand despite the characters jumping around to a handful of different planets. I thought the politics and plot were compelling. I was very interested to see what was going to happen next. The author did a great job of raising the stakes, leaving the reader in real fear for some of the characters and real anger at others. I really grew to love the romance with one of the main characters. It felt really realistic and I felt my feelings for him growing alongside hers. Overall, I highly recommend this book and I’m very eagerly awaiting my library hold for the second book. I listened to the audiobook and I really loved the narrator. She did a great job telling this story in a way that kept me interested. I’ll definitely be recommending this book on lists in the future.
Summary: While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue! Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…
Review: I read P.S. I Like You at the recommendation of a friend for the 12 Challenge that went around social media in January. I hadn’t previously read anything by West and I will definitely be reading more by her in the future. This book follows Lily, who loves music and playing the guitar, and writing songs. She writes one of her favorite song lyrics on a desk at school and a few days later notices that someone has continued the song. She’s surprised because she doesn’t know many people that know her favorite band. This leads to the pair passing notes back and forth, hidden under the desk they share in the same class, but during different periods. I liked Lily. She comes from a big family and I really liked her family. I have lots of siblings, so I could really relate to her in this aspect. Having lots of siblings brings many challenges, but there’s also something great about coming from a big family. I really loved the different dynamics with the siblings and I loved all of the family antics. Now, I will say that I absolutely predicted the identity of this mysterious person that she was passing notes with. But I’m very pleased to say that things didn’t play out how I anticipated. I was rolling my eyes at what I thought was going to happen with the romance, but I’m happy that West really surprised me. Overall, I ended up really enjoying this book. I loved that the friendship between Lily and her best friend didn’t suffer because of the romance. I also loved the way that the romance played out despite the challenges set up for them. I will definitely be reading more books by West.
Summary: For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown. So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights — plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it. Until they’re not. Denver begins to realize that she’s trapped in Merc’s world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must make a choice: lose her big break, or get broken. Inspired by true events, Muted is a fearless exploration of the dark side of the music industry, the business of exploitation, how a girl’s dreams can be used against her — and what it takes to fight back.
Review: Muted follows Denver and her two best friends as they dive headfirst into the music industry, trying to become the next popular singing group. This is a novel written in verse, so I chose the audiobook because I always enjoy novels in verse more via audio. This was a quick book to listen to even though the story wasn’t action-packed or anything. Things go from everything that these teens dreamed of to an absolute nightmare. I think Charles did an amazing job drawing out this story. It was incredibly obvious that Merc (the musician that Denver gets involved with to hopefully make their big break) is bad news to everyone except for Denver. It was like watching a car crash, but in slow motion, because you know something bad is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when and how. But the author did a good job keeping me interested in the journey of getting to that point and still surprising me when things are revealed and we learn how bad things really are. I liked Denver and her friends. They were a bit naive, but I couldn’t help but root for them to reach their dreams anyway. I think the friendships were the best part of this book. I loved the relationship between Denver and Dali even though it was complicated and not always happy. Despite these friends making super poor choices, I was impressed by their drive to make their dreams come true. But I also wasn’t at all surprised when everything went wrong because these were, in fact, teen girls making very poor and dangerous choices. Overall, I had a good time listening to this book. It was a wild ride and I was mildly horrified and, at the same time, not surprised to learn that this book was inspired by true events. This was a tough book, at times, but definitely, one that I recommend for audiobook listeners.
Summary: The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.
Review: The Rage of Dragons is an adult fantasy with a vast world, but for the most part, we follow Tau as he finds himself on a journey for vengeance. He’s lost everyone he loves and this sets him on a completely different path than what he’d wanted for his life. He throws away all of his plans and completely dedicates himself to taking the lives of those that caused the death of his loved ones. The world and magic was the highlight of this book for me. It’s such a detailed world full of politics that we’re absolutely horrible. There is so much that’s obviously wrong with how some people are treated. It was made obvious because we follow Tau who is a “lesser.” He’s not one of the lowest people in this society, but he’s certainly not treated very well. I loved the mythology of how the magic of this world was created. I think there’s definitely going to be some really compelling stuff related to the plot in the next book that has to do with the magic and I’m incredibly excited to see how it all plays out. Tau was a tough main character to follow. He’s so full of anger and hatred. We get to see his mostly easy life. And then we get to see it fall completely apart. So, it was easy to see why he chose the path that he did. And it wasn’t hard to root for him as he walked his path of vengeance. I’m very eager to see where things will go in the next book with how this one ended. Overall, I liked this book. It was a lot slower than I was anticipating, there was a lot of training and build-up before the plot and politics really took off. But there was a lot of focus on the characters and their developments and relationships. It was engaging and compelling to get to know the characters and follow their training. I’m very excited to start the next book. I ended up listening to the audio for this one and I think the narrator did an excellent job telling the story. I will be continuing the series via audiobook. I will definitely be recommending this one in the future.
Summary: Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars. Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. . .
Review: I absolutely devoured the first two books in this trilogy, so to say that I was excited about the third is an understatement. As Good As Dead follows Pippa as she is once again solving a mystery. I don’t really want to share too many of the plot details (read the summary above for those if you want them.) I chose to listen to the audiobook for this book just like I did for the first two books in the series and I just cannot recommend the audiobook enough. The cast for this series really does a stellar job telling this story and I loved that we got some more of the full cast and podcast elements that we didn’t really get in the second book. High fives all around to the narration team for this book. The plot of this book was an interesting one. Pippa is back to solve another mystery, but that mystery leads in an opposite direction from the first two books. I think that was the strangest thing about this story compared to the first two. In those, Pippa is solving a murder and finding a missing friend, but in this one, she’s trying to solve a mystery to “save herself” and that mystery turns dangerous and wild about halfway into the book. The events in the second half of the book were a wild ride. They almost felt out of character for Pippa but the author made it so easy to understand how Pippa had gotten to the point she’s at where she’s making these choices. That sentence was incredibly vague and if you haven’t read this book it was probably confusing. But Pippa in this book is absolutely not the same Pippa we got to know in book one. She’s dealing with some serious PTSD and trauma, and not really coping with any of it very well. She’s convinced herself that she just has to solve one more mystery and she will go back to who she was before, which is absolutely not how stuff like that works. I think the character growth and development was really well done, but I do wish we’d gotten to see Pippa actually deal with some of her stuff outside of talking about her attempts with therapy that occurred between books two and three. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Pippa has changed so much in this series, it was incredibly compelling to see how those changes affected the choices she made in this book. I still think it’s interesting the way the mystery is sort of opposite from the mystery in the first book (and only people that have read this one will know what that means, sorry). I will definitely be reading more books from Jackson in the future.
Summary: In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. To anticloning militants, it’s an abomination against nature. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying. After a routine monthly upload of her consciousness—stored for that inevitable transition—something goes wrong. When Con wakes up in the clinic, it’s eighteen months later. Her recent memories are missing. Her original, she’s told, is dead. If that’s true, what does that make her? The secrets of Con’s disorienting new life are buried deep. So are those of how and why she died. To uncover the truth, Con is retracing the last days she can recall, crossing paths with a detective who’s just as curious. On the run, she needs someone she can trust. Because only one thing has become clear: Con is being marked for murder—all over again.
Review: I read Constance for my local book club and I’m really glad we ended up picking this one. I voted for a totally different book, but Constance ended up being a totally wild ride that I devoured in one day. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by a narrator that I didn’t realize I’d listened to before. She did an excellent job telling this story. I will definitely recommend the audiobook in the future. The story follows Constance who prefers to be called Con. We’re introduced to Con and her life, and the experience of going in for her monthly memory upload. You see, Con lives in the near future where cloning is common (for the rich), and her aunt is one of the scientists that made the big break into cloning, so even though Con isn’t one of the super-rich, she has a clone. But something’s gone wrong, Con wakes up from her normal monthly memory upload to learn that she’s not actually just done a memory upload, and instead she’s now the clone waking because the original Constance must have died. And also, the original hasn’t been in for a memory upload in almost two years, so Con has lots of missing pieces that need to be filled in. She’s determined to fill in those pieces but the more she learns, the more questions she has. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this story, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a sci-fi thriller. I didn’t really read the summary before starting the story, but once Con (the clone) wakes, I was absolutely hooked. The author did a really great job of building suspense and letting the reader think they were getting their questions answered before the big twist. The buildup of mystery and all the things that Con learned allowed for a lot of theories and speculation and I think that was part of the book that I liked the most, the wondering of who was really behind everything and what the real answers were. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I loved that there were so many diverse characters. I loved the moral and ethical questions of cloning. I loved the mystery and suspense of wondering what the hell was really going on. I believe there is a sequel for this book and I will absolutely be reading it.
Summary: The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Gwendy’s Button Box brings his signature “thrilling, page-turning” (Michael Koryta, author of How It Happened) prose to this story of small-town evil that combines the storytelling of Stephen King with the true-crime suspense of Michelle McNamara. In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end. Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come. A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “brilliant…absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant” (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.
Review: I read Chasing the Boogeyman for a part of the 12 Recommendations Challenge that was going around on Instagram (thanks @amy for recommending this one). This is a horror novel mixed with non-fiction in a true-crime sort of way. By that I mean, the author Richard Chizmar, is also our main character. And this story takes place in his hometown. We follow him as he’s living at home after college for a few months before he gets married. But while he’s staying with his parents in his childhood home, something terrible starts to happen in his small town. Four girls are kidnapped and brutally murdered. The worst part? The police can’t seem to find the killer but suspect that’s it’s someone local to the town. My biggest issue with this book was that I spent entirely too much time wondering what was true and what was false because at the beginning of the story it’s explained that some parts of the story are fiction and some aren’t. So obviously, I wanted to know which parts were which. I’m here to tell you not to focus on that if you read this book. You will be told what’s the truth and what isn’t before the book is over. I didn’t know that, so I focused too much on wondering. I was totally blown away by the big reveal of what’s fact versus fiction in this story and I think that’s what made this story so good for me. Now, the story starts off super slow with a bit of history about the town of Edgewood. But once you get past that, the story has a pretty good pace. It was really hard not to get sucked into the drama and suspense of solving this case. Chizmar did an incredible job of making me feel like I knew everything about this small town and like I’d grown up there alongside him. But he also did a great job keeping me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next, and when there was going to be a big break in the case. Overall, this was a wild ride. It was terrifyingly realistic (especially since I live in the same state as this book). Chizmar clearly knows how to write a good story and I think any fan of horror will like this one. But I think it will also appeal to fans of true crime and mystery/thriller lovers.
Summary: The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival… and possibly her undoing. As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban – a lord as mighty as he is cruel – has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah… The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined. An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.
Review: I picked up The Unwilling because I requested the second book in NetGalley, not knowing that it was a sequel. So, I had to read this first book once I was approved for its sequel. I listened to the audiobook and I think the narrator did an excellent job telling the story. The story follows Judah, Gavin, Elly, and Theron. Judah is an orphan that has a magical connection to Gavin, the heir of Highfall castle. Whatever happens to Gavin also happens to Judah and the same is reversed. This is basically what Judah’s life is all about. Her life is determined by Gavin. The two are friends, but they’re often used against one another. While I liked these four friends, I felt like little to nothing actually happened in the story. We learn so much about the world, the daily lives of these four, and all that’s wrong within and outside of Highfall castle. Things pick up a bit toward the end of the story, but we’re left wanting much more. I’m excited to read the second book to see if it had this same issue or if this book was just mostly build up and set up for the second book. Overall, I think this book was interesting. But it was very character-focused with minimal plot. There wasn’t much that actually happened until the final third of the book. We spend so much time getting to know the characters and the world that the story felt incredibly slow. I don’t know that I would have gotten through it had I not been listening to the audiobook. I’m glad that I read it so that I can read the NetGalley arc of the sequel.
Summary: For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
Review: This is the sequel to Sky in the Deep. The Girl the Sea Gave Back follows Tova and Halvard in alternating points of view. Tova is Kyrr, more specifically a Truthtongue (she can see read the future from casting special stones she has). Halvard is Fiske’s younger brother (let me tell you how I screamed when I realized he had his own point of view in this book). It’s been 10 years since the events of Sky in the Deep and the Aska and Riki have become one clan, renaming themselves. Tova is living with the Svell clan which is getting ready to wage war again Halvard’s clan. Why? I literally have NO clue and I couldn’t tell you even if my life depended on it. So, we once again have two clans warring for unknown reasons, except this time, Halvard’s clan has known peace for the last ten years. I’m going to be honest, I pushed through and finished this book only because of Halvard’s point of view. I loved him as a kid in Sky in the deep so I was very excited to see him as an adult in this book. He absolutely didn’t disappoint. I loved him so much. As for Tova, I felt bad for her. She’d been pretty much abused her whole life, lied to about where she came from and used for her Truthtongue abilities. I was absolutely curious as to what we were missing about her backstory. And I was happy to find out the truth when that twist was revealed. I liked learning more about the world. It was interesting to see the Svell clan and what they knew about the details of the first book as well as other bits we got to learn about the world. My biggest issue with this story is that I didn’t care about the plot literally at all. They’re going to war again? Sure, okay, but why? I didn’t feel like the motivations were clear at all. Overall, I liked this book. Not as much as Sky in the Deep, but I still had a good time listening to the audiobook.