Today, January 23, is National Reading Day! What better way to celebrate than curled up with a good book?
National Reading Day is a little overshadowed by Trump’s recent inauguration, but no fear. Need to get away from the media’s and your Facebook friends’ onslaught of political news?
Then pick up a book!
I’m going to curl up by the fire and read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, but I’ve included it as well as nine others below in case you need suggestions.
- Grave Mercy
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
Death, history, and romance? Yes, Please! (And look at that cover!)
I’m only halfway through, but if the second half is as good as the first half, then this is a book I will definitely recommend. It’s fast-paced, beautifully written, and certainly a different take on the typical “historical-fantasy” novel.
2. The Wrath and the Dawn
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
I must say, I’m not a fan of this new cover (the old one is much better, but obviously, that’s just my opinion). However, this is an amazing story filled with rich details, a complicated love story, and an ending that will make you want to have the sequel, The Rose and The Dagger, immediately on hand.
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
The first time I read the synopsis, I couldn’t imagine how the story could be any good. A cyborg Cinderella? It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
But a few years later I picked it up again out of curiosity over all the good reviews it was receiving and was extremely impressed. It will make you laugh, cry, sit on the edge of your seat and swoon. I can’t say enough good things about Cinder and the rest of the books in the series.
4. Red Queen
Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
Alas, I have not read it yet, but everyone I know who has read it recommends it to me. So, I’ll take it on their good word that it is worth reading. How could it not be with that cover?
5. These Broken Stars
It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.
I like that this isn’t your typical sci-fi story. It includes the fight for survival under impossible odds and is unlike anything else I’ve read. I love that the characters are realistic and their reactions to their situation seem natural, not like paper cut outs forced to do the authors’ bidding. This is by far one of my favorite YA books.
6. Into the Dim
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. And she’s alive, though currently trapped in the twelfth century, during the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Passing through the Dim, Hope enters a brutal medieval world of political intrigue, danger, and violence. A place where any serious interference could alter the very course of history. And when she meets a boy whose face is impossibly familiar, she must decide between her mission and her heart—both of which could leave Hope trapped in the past forever.
Admittedly, the first fifty pages are a little slow. However, once you get through those, the story really takes off. If you like the middle ages, then this book is for you. It’s historically accurate and a fun time travel novel.
7. The Girl From Everywhere
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.
She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.
Or she could disappear.
This is a very fast-paced story. Once or twice I had to stop and process what I just read because I had to think back to something twenty pages earlier. In some ways, it’s more like a time travel mystery because Nix is discovering so much about her heritage, history, and Navigation. As long as you stay on top of the details, this is a great story. Also, if you read it now, you’ll be ready for the release of its sequel, The Ship Beyond Time, on February 28th.
8. Carve the Mark
Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.
Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.
This just released on January 17th, so I have yet to read it. If it is anything like her other books, I suspect it will create a lot of buzz in the YA community over the next few months. It sounds interesting, and I think I fell in love with that cover the first time I saw it.
9. My Lady Jane
This comical, fantastical, romantical, New York Times bestselling, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey is “an uproarious historical fantasy that’s not to be missed” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind YA fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.
Like that could go wrong.
If you need a good laugh, then this is for you. I don’t usually like books that completely change historical facts, but that is the thing that makes this story so humorous. You never know what to expect, and the bumbling actions of the characters make them far more realistic and all too relatable.
10. Something Strange And Deadly
Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. And when she discovers that the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and wreaking havoc throughout the city, she knows that her brother is involved.
So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. But as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters, and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life may hang in the balance.
In Something Strange and Deadly, the first book in a trilogy, Susan Dennard weaves together vividly imagined scenes of action, adventure, and gorgeous Victorian fashion to create an entertaining steampunk tapestry of humor, horror, and romance. Readers who love Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series will be intrigued from the start.
I first picked this up this past summer while browsing through a used bookstore in North Carolina. It happened to be a first edition, signed copy for $5, and I didn’t realize it was either of those things until I’d already bought it and walked out of the store. To say the least, I was quite happy.
I’m not a fan of zombie stories, but this was so unique that I liked it. Fighting zombies in the Victorian era in Philadelphia? Yeah, not a lot of books like it. I will warn, it’s not a happily ever after story, especially if you read the entire series. Have tissues ready for it’s a bittersweet ending.
So there you have it, ten books to read for National Reading Day. Now get off the internet and go read!