January Reads

Any bangs in January?  Nope, NOT EVEN CLOSE!

I read 24 books in November & December to meet my GR goal of 90 so as a reward, I did not read anything for two weeks.  And I don’t regret it.  So because of my reading moratorium, I only read three books in January-that’s a new low. Click the book cover for full reviews.

the queen's rising

Bang Bang Ratingbomb1/2

Same old story us fantasy fans have read a hundred times.

dark of the west

I read this for School Library Journal and cannot comment until my review appears in the journal.

list of cages

Bang Bang Ratingbombbombbomb

This is a basic story; it’s not a real thinker but a decent discussion starter.

I’m back on the book horse and will try to read at least six books in February.


I’m currently about 45% in and it’s REALLY GOOD so far.  It is a lot of story so I hope the author can control it.  It’s on par for five stars if she can pull it out.  The world is somewhat unique; the heroines are pretty awesome and well developed; and the pacing is great.  If you have the ARC sitting on your shelf, I say start reading it now.

true queen

Pretty good series.  Book 1: The Impostor Queen was one of my favorite fantasy books of 2016.  Book 2 wasn’t as good but I’ve heard great things about the series finale so I’m excited.  I highly recommend this series.

immortal reign

OMG…finally the last book.  This was supposed to be a trilogy but then the author got to extend it to six and FINALLY after SIX YEARS I will be able to finish this series.  And I didn’t binge them; I read book one in 2012 and book two 2013 and so on and so forth.  If you are looking for a fluffier Throne of Glass type of a series that has a great heroine and hero, I highly recommend it.  It will get a little bananas in book five tho.

orphan monster spy

Don’t know much about it but it sounds good.

smoke thieves

I wasn’t a big fan of her first series, Half Bad, but it was because of the execution.  I think Green is a good storyteller so I’m excited to read her new series.

last beginning

I have to review this for School Library Journal.


Queen’s Rising

the queen's rising

The Queen’s Rising (Book 1)

By Rebecca Ross

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Bang Bang Review

When I told my co-worker Elise that I was going to read this next, she enthusiastically asked me to see something.  With bated breath, I waited for her to pull up her eBook where she eventually showed me four pages of family trees, definitions, more definitions, maps, and more definitions.  She decided at that point to not read the book and I should have listened-DAMMIT!!

Brienna (already forgot her last name) has dual citizenship of Valenia and some other land-I don’t remember.  Her mother died and she doesn’t know who her father was so she was raised in an orphanage until she was ten when her maternal grandfather takes her to matriculate at Magnolia House.  The Magnolia House is a school for FIVE girls who study Passions (OMG, this book said passion sooooo many times) and they study for SEVEN years.  So in other words, for SEVEN years there are only FIVE people at this school.  How do they make money?  It must be THE most expensive school ever.  And a good 25% of the book was in this school where we meet these girls and none of it impacts the plot-maybe one girl. Anyway, Brienna has no skills but she must be special because they admit her immediately and after failing at all the other passions, she settles on knowledge.  Since there’s one student to each teacher and Bri is the sixth girl in the school, she has to share a teacher with her classmate who out of nowhere gets real bitchy when Bri seems to be favored by their teacher.  Oh and I forgot the most important detail, when Bri touches a mysterious book she has these visions of a princess who lived hundreds of years ago-okay.  Oh I forgot to mention that Bri has a crush on her teacher.

Anyway, these girls are studying for SEVEN years so they can apprentice but Bri is conveniently not chosen and must remain at the school. But something happens and she has to go into hiding and it has something to do with her father she knows nothing about.  She travels and has visions and meets people and reveals that she has visions and trains to control her visions but fails and she meets this evil king who we keep hearing about and who is supposed to be the most evil king ever but we meet him once.  You can’t write a villain off page and expect the reader to fear them.

So the entire book is Bri looking for a stone and a scroll to overthrow the king.  She conveniently finds the stone after a vision showed her where it was.  I call deus ex machina on that bullshit.  The scroll was also conveniently found and then the battle for the throne literally takes five pages.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I READ A 460 PAGE BOOK FOR A BATTLE TO TAKE FIVE FREAKING PAGES?  The ending was a pretty bow and I shouldn’t have read this book.

So if you are looking for a book that says passion five hundred times, a poorly written villain, and a Mary Sue, this is the book for you.  If not, read Children of Blood and Bone-similar book but with better characters and execution.

Bang Bang Rating: bomb 1/2


2018 ARCs!!!

About once a quarter we receive a box of ARCs from Baker and Taylor.  It is part of their ARC program for libraries and the program has separate boxes for MG and adult fiction.  They may have a separate program for picture books but I am unsure.  If you’d like to be part of the ARC program, please contact your B&T rep.

Now onto the books


I’ve read Children of Blood and Bone and The Belles.  You can find my review of The Belles in January 2018 SLJ print publication.

I’m excited about It Should Have Been You and Ash Princess and Orphan Monster Spy and I’ll probably be finishing those by the end of February.

Have you read any of these titles? Which ones should I read first?


First in Line

First In Line is going to be difficult to explain because there is no information about it on their website so if my info is wrong, sorry.  I signed up at a booth at ALA.

First In Line is a kind-of-subscription-box for librarians.  Although it is from Underlined, it is Penguin Random House.  Every couple of months you receive three ARCs and each ARC comes with samplers and display materials for librarians to put in their stacks.  The books you receive are really book ARCs so if you are interested in this program, visit Underlined and sign up for the newsletter to get started!


Books from this quarter’s box


December 2017: Any Bangs

The last two months have been super crunch time to meet my Goodreads goal and although I completed my 90 book goal, technically I finished my 90th book on January 1st.  But I was 2/3 of the way through and I’m counting it.

This was a rough month meaning no bangs but it ended strong.  Click on the title for full reviews. (Not all books have reviews).

one of us is lying

One of Us is Lying

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

I wasn’t expecting a critical read but I was expecting a good mystery considering this has been on the NY Times bestseller list for weeks.  It began pretty well but then it dragged ass and that ending-WTF?  I was legit going back to the crime scene to figure out who was doing what and that didn’t even matter. UGH!!!

see what i have done

See What I Have Done

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

I like many are fascinated by Lizzie Borden and this debut was a good try but unfortunately, Schmidt used the small amount of evidence available and tried to fill 300 pages.  Too repetitive.

loneliest girl

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

I reviewed this for SLJ and you can catch it in a future publication.

love hate and filters

Love, Hate, and Other Filters

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

This is an okay light hearted romance with a bit of Islamophobia.  The ending was a bit too unrealistic.

rebels of gold

Rebels of Gold

Bang Bang Rating: DNF

I loved the first two and this one was good but it was all about an impending war that I could predict the outcome and I was just not interested.  I got about 2/3’s in and skipped to the end and I was right.  It’s still a good fantasy and I highly recommend it.

dear martin

Dear Martin

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

Not very deep.

you bring the distance near

You Bring the Distance Near

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

Too much telling and not enough showing.



Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 3/4

A little info dumpy but the idea was interesting.

batman book


Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb

Solid story but it was a bit boring.



Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 3/4

I don’t know why I waited so long to read this but it was GREAT! This book was a struggle because we are conditioned to pick a side and root for them but both characters were monsters and they both had good points.  I went back and forth-FRUSTRATING but good frustrating.

I’m tired and I’m not reading a damn thing for two weeks.  When I do decide to read, here’s the rundown.


2018 So Far

So I started reading 2018 books in October because I ran out of 2017 books to read.  You might be saying, “Dawn, you don’t like anything.” Trust me, I hear it from my friends all the time and I’d like to say that I do like stuff-I’m just REALLY picky.  I’m a critical reader which means I enjoy books that challenge me with multiple themes, a unique voice, and beautiful prose.  I’m also a sucker for a quotey book and a book that mixes genres.  If a book is full of tropes; is predictable as hell; has the same voice I’ve heard a MILLION times; or has elementary writing, I’m not gonna like it, people!  I’m all about own voices and I’m super excited to see so many authors of color but that doesn’t excuse bad writing (in my opinion).

With being said, here we go…And as always, click the title for full reviews.


Publication Date: January 2, 2018

This is a debut fantasy and I usually don’t like debut fantasy but this one has great potential.  The world uses time as currency which is a unique spin on the haves and the have nots.  The mythology was interesting but a bit convoluted.  The major reveals and world building were info dumped but there was an attempt at uniqueness and the writing was solid.  I also liked the female friendships-I’m sick of girl hate.

You should definitely read this.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 3/4

ink iron glass

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Here’s another debut fantasy and I did NOT like this one.  First of all, it’s only 336 pages-RED FLAG, RED FLAG!  This usually means the world building is shitty and not well developed-it wasn’t.  The premise is cool-a scriptologist can write a world and “people” can live in it.  The execution however was not good as it tried to mix in historical Italian fiction but it was all info dumped and not very interesting.  There was insta love and the character development was weak.  Then the author tried to execute a plot twist that contained no foreshadowing therefore rendering it anticlimactic.

Although the cover is beautiful, RUN AWAY!  Read Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb

children of blood and bone

Published March 6, 2018

Are you scared of what I’m going to say? I had high hopes for this because of the hype and I was also scared of what I was going to think.

I like it a lot-PHEW! The character development was strong, the pacing was fantastic considering it is 600 pages, the plot was well developed and easy to follow, and it contained some thought provoking themes.  I’m so happy to see a fantasy with an all black cast.

Add it to your collection the day it’s published.

Bang Bang Ratingbang

 (I initially gave it 4.8 but that’s dumb; I’ll just up it to a perfect 5)

love hate and filters

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

This is marketed as Islamophobia and although there are instances of it, it is not the main focus by any means.  Islamophobia theme to me means it’s going to contain a deep discussion and strong themes but it doesn’t.  This is more like a light hearted romance with a smattering of Islamophobia but the voice wasn’t nuanced enough to love this.  It’s just okay.

Read The Hate U Give instead.  I’ve only read three books about Islamophobia and none of them were noteworthy.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


January 9, 2018

This was a nonstop roller coaster with a death drop at the end-DAMN! This is the type of science fiction book I like.  This book has strong themes of mortality and abuse of power. There are complex characters and timely world building even though it’s post apocalyptic.  Once again, I initially gave it 4.5 because I wrote my review immediately after reading when my emotions were all over the place-THAT DAMN CLIFFHANGER ENDING!  But upon reflection, I will bump it up.

This was better than book 1.

Bang Bang Rating: bang

traitor's game

Publication Date: February 28, 2018

I loved the False Prince and I think Neilsen should stick to middle grade books.  The main character was awful and the insta love was gross.  There’s nothing new to see here, folks.

Read The False Prince, Kiss of Deception, or Winner’s Curse instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb 1/2

the hazel wood

Publication Date: January 20, 2018

So I don’t like Alice in Wonderland because it’s too much imagery for me to grasp.  I didn’t know this was a retelling even though the main character’s name is Alice and her grandma’s book references Hinterland.  Nevertheless, I DNFed this because although it started off well, it got a little too nutty for me with the twists and turns and the double agents and such.  I’m not the best person to listen to because of my dislike of Alice in Wonderland so I may not be the best person to advise.

Bang Bang Rating: DNF

dread nation

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

It pains me to say this because I love the premise but the execution of this was bad.  The voice was not special and the racism was stereotypical-racist sheriff/villain calling blacks darkies and setting them up for failure? The racist sheriff is not nuanced.  Publishers/editors cannot rely on a great cover and premise to sell books.  The editor should tell the author to have the main character say something serious about race and in this book’s case, the emancipation proclamation.  The characters were all characters we’ve read before-the sassy black girl who knows more than everyone in the room, the beautiful female nemesis who turns out to be okay, the fast talking hot guy womanizer with a heart of gold-COME ON!!!  This book is about zombies and zombie hunters in 1865; do something with it!!  It makes me angry when you have a vocal author (I follow Justina on Twitter) who obviously has something to say but it doesn’t translate into her books.  I strongly believe it’s the editor’s job to help authors write great books.

Read Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb 1/2

cruel prince

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

I wanted to like this book even though I’ve yet to like anything by Holly Black.  I know I’m in the minority here but this book had NO plot.  The main character made extremely dumb choices and not just dumb but unrealistic.  She’s the type of character that has no training but falls ass backwards into good luck-I hate that shit.  There’s an issue I had between Jules and her sister that really ticked me off and the whole hanging out with the fey who are sadistically trying to kill her just bothered me.

This book made me angry because I had such high hopes and I felt like I wasted my time with this big ass book-(insert angry emoji).

Read or reread Throne of Glass or Falling Kingdoms instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

batman book

January 2, 2018

Marie Lu is a good storyteller and this was no exception.  Something however was missing and I’m not sure what it was.  The character development was good and the story was good but I was bored and I like Batman.  I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy this book.

This is still worth a read.

Bang Bang Review: bombbombbomb 3/4

I would love to share my thoughts on these books but I can’t just yet because I reviewed them for SLJ, School Library Journal. When they are published in the journal, I will post my honest review.



Most Surprising Books of 2017

These are books where I had no expectations and they ended up surprising me as a really good read. Click the titles for full review.

city of saints and thieves

I was gonna read this early in the year but I read some Goodreads reviews and decided to not read it.  DAMN, I SHOULDN’T HAVE LISTENED TO GOODREADS.  This book was thrilling and exciting and a bit difficult to get through because of the sex slavery trade.  The pacing was good, the characters were well developed, and the mystery was pretty solid.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb


I wanted to read the series before Thick as Thieves came out even though you didn’t have to.  I wasn’t surprised that this book was good but I was surprised by the story.  There are no ages which was interesting and it’s full of political intrigue which I also found interesting considering it was a Newberry Honor. I loved the main character and the story as a whole.  The series seems to be for older teens because there’s not a lot of action that would hold the attention of a younger teen but it’s a solid series.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb


I’m not sure why I picked up this book but I’m glad I did.  This is set in the near future in England where slavery was not abolished but evolved.  Nonmagical people have to spend 10 years in slavery where they are servants or serve in work houses.  Anyway, this book is about power, privilege, and love and it’s DARK.  There are hella characters but they are all extremely well developed and the world building is fantastic.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 1/2


I’m not a fan of this cover but it had a HIGH rating on Goodreads and the GR rating is gospel for me.  I’m glad I chose it because this series is great.  Very strong heroines and their gender is never a focal point.  There’s some political intrigue, a repressed nation that’s fed up and ready to fight, and a love story that’s not in your face.  Ignore this cover and read this series.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 1/2

song of the current

Not sure why this book flew under the radar when other shitty books were promoted to death.  If you’re curious about which shitty books I’m referring to, click here to read my disappointing reads of 2017.  It’s Bloomsbury which means they spent their budget on Sarah J. Maas-GEEZ!

This is a debut and I don’t like debut fantasy because they are usually horrible but this one had a diverse cast of pirates.  It was funny and thrilling and I liked the love story and it wasn’t fluffy.  The main character was dealing with some issues surrounding the nation he inherited and the other main character was dealing with identity issues.  If you are looking for a diverse pirate fantasy, check out this series.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb