March ’19 Releases to Get Excited About

In the past, I’ve been doing these posts as a sort of 3 at a time, multiple posts a month kind of thing, complete with lengthy blurbs for each book. I’ve decided to make things easier and just pop a whole bunch of new releases for the month into one big post. I’ll try to summarise the plot for each book into short snippets that’ll hopefully help you decide if you’re interested in finding out more. All books are linked to their respective Goodreads pages to make things even easier. While a large chunk of these are YA, not all of them are and I’ve incorporated a few books from adult genres for those who like to read more broadly.


5th March

  • The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) – Dhonielle Clayton: Camille and her allies race to find Princess Charlotte and fight to restore peace to Orleans.
  • The Quiet You Carry – Nikki Barthelmess: After a mysterious incident with her father, Victoria is placed into foster care and forced to adjust to her new surroundings.
  • Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons 4#) – Matt de la Pena: A young Clarke Kent teams up with bestie Lana Lane to solve a Smallville mystery whilst learning more about his powers and origins.
  • To Best the Boys – Mary Weber: Disguised as a boy, a teen scientist enters a dangerous scholarship contest to win entry to an illustrious men’s university in order to research a cure to the disease killing her mother.
  • Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid: Told as a compilation of interviews, DJ&TS details the rise and eventual break up of a legendary (fictional) band during the 60s and 70s.

March 5th Continues…(Gosh!)

  • The Last 8 – Laura Pohl: Eight teenagers learn to survive on Earth after an alien attack decimates the human population.
  • Lovely War – Julie Berry: In a hotel room during WWII, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, tells a story to her husband, Hephaestus, and lover, Ares, of four young people who met and fell in love during WWI.
  • Call Me Evie – J.P. Pomare: Kate wakes up in an isolated cabin. A man named Bill claims she’s there for her protection, that she did something unspeakable. Kate’s memory of her life before is sketchy and Bill’s story doesn’t add up. But does she really want to remember?
  • Bloodleaf – Crystal Smith:  Aurelia is destined to marry the prince of an enemy country. After an assassination attempt, she uses forbidden magic to save a life. Attacked by witch hunters, she trades places with her lady in waiting, Lisette. Now forced to survive without money or status, Aurelia is in a race to make it to Achelva before Lisette marries the prince instead.
  • Opposite of Always – Justin A. Reynolds: Jack is a pro at ‘almost’ getting things – valedictorian, varsity – but when he meets Kate, he feels as though his curse might finally be over. Until she dies. Now, with help of some time travel, Jack may have the chance to prevent her death. But is it worth it if it means hurting someone else he loves?

19th March

  • Sherwood – Megan Spooner: After the death of Robin Hood, Maid Marion takes up his legendary bow and hood to fight for the people of Locksley against the terrible Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Small Town Hearts – Lillie Vale: In a small, beachside town, Babe, is forced to deal with the falling out of her two best friends, re-appearance of her ex-girlfriend, and growing feelings for the cute artist she knows will leave town when the summer’s over.
  • The Weight of the Stars – K. Ancrum: Two girls are brought together after a terrible accident. They bond over listening to radio waves on a roof in the hopes of hearing something from one of the pair’s mother, an astronaut on a one way trip to the edge of the solar system.
  • Girls with Sharp Sticks – Suzanne Young: The Innovations Academy is designed to turn young ladies into perfectly obedient women. However, when Mena and her friends start to question the nature of their existence, they realise the school holds some very dark secrets.
  • Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams: Queenie is a 25-year-old Jamaican-British woman living in London, constantly trying to straddle two cultures. After a messy break up with her long term boyfriend, she starts on a downward spiral before undergoing a journey of self-discovery and beginning to question who she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life.

26th March

  • Once & Future – Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy: Comedy and Sci-fi combine in this King Arthur retelling featuring a teen Merlin who’s been aging backwards, a cruel oppressive government, and the 42nd reincarnation of Arthur, Ari, who crashes on new Earth while on the run from a mega-corporation.
  • In Another Life – C. C. Hunter: When Chloe moves to a new town with her mother, she meets Cash, a boy who informs her that she looks just like the child his foster parents lost years ago. As the two dig into Chloe’s adoption, the more strange things start to occur and others just don’t add up.
  • Killing November – Adriana Mather: New student, November Adly sets out to find the culprit behind a series of murders at a school designed to train students to be assassins, counsellors, spies, and impersonators.

Hopefully there’s at least one book on this list that caught your eye, I know there’s definitely a few on my radar. While I’ve tried to cover a chunk of reads that come out in March, I know there are STACKS I’m missing. I’d be here til the end of time if I tried to cover them all. If there’s a book you think I should add, just let me know. It’s always good to share the excitement with others.

What March ’19 release are you most excited about?

Doin’ it for the Girls: To Best the Boys by Mary Weber (ARC)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Who, What, Where?

To Best the Boys is set in the province of Caldon in which every year an epic competition hosted by the mysterious Mr Holm is held for eligible aged boys to compete for the chance to win a scholarship to the prestigious Stemwick University. Only one can win, and the competition is not for the faint of heart as contestants have died in previous years.

Our lead is Rhen Teller, a sixteen-year-old girl with a talent for biological science. Alongside her father, Rhen has desperately been trying to devise a cure for the deadly disease spreading through the lower classes and slowly killing her mother. Rhen concludes that in order to gain access to the resources and technology she needs to do her research, her best option is to attend university by winning the scholarship. The only problem? It’s an all-male institution. And so, along with her cousin Seleni, Rhen devises a plan to disguise herself as a boy to not only take home the prize but show the boys what an intelligent young woman can do.

Why You Should Read this Book:

A Solid Lead

From as early as the dedication, To Best the Boys sets itself up to be a female empowering story and if there’s one thing you need for a book like this, it’s a strong central character. Rhen was one of my favourite components of the book. She’s certainly strong, but also smart, hardworking, quick thinking, confident in her abilities (despite others’ attempts to discount her), and a little bit sassy.

“Miss Lake, I’d heard your cousin would be a fun one, but I’d no idea how pleasurable. You must bring her around, more often. I think I’d enjoy getting to know more of her…spirit.”

…I lower my voice and flick my gaze down his body. “Mr Germaine, I assure you – were you given the opportunity to know more of my spirit, I believe I’d find the whole experience wholly unsatisfying.”

Whilst possessing these bolder traits, Rhen does have a gentler side, too. She’s kind, empathetic, and extremely passionate about using her skills to try and help others in her community. The fact that she isn’t squeamish and starts the novel off at the morgue rooting around a dead body additionally makes for a great first impression.

Feminist Themes

I can never resist a good YA with feminist undertones and To Best the Boys does well on this front. The world itself is designed around forcing women into very traditional mother/wife roles with very little activities beyond things such as sewing and baking. By having intelligent female leads actively pursuing what they want in such a setting, the theme of female empowerment shines through very clearly and as a young woman, it’s hard not to feel great reading it.

“You win this thing, Rhen Teller. Enough to make Vincent and Germaine regret they weren’t born women”.

I really enjoyed the fact that despite the more historical kind of setting, Weber still manages to make quite a few comments on equality issues that apply even in today’s society, and in doing so she really emphasises just how stupid they are. For example, girls as distractions for boys in educational settings. The other thing that I massively appreciated was Weber’s attitude towards equality and feminism. It’s about women having the freedom and opportunities to choose what to do with their future, even if, like Seleni, their choice is to be a wife and mother. You do you, Seleni!

Cute Romance

“If I go, you go with me.”

“I’ve already won,” he whispers.

Can I once again just say, thank god for authors who know how to write romances that don’t take over the rest of the story. The romance in this book is a nice, little subplot. It pops up now and again and the exchanges between fisherman, Lute, and Rhen are pretty sweet, even if Rhen spends a lot of time commenting on Lute’s luscious lips. Girl, we’ve all been there. However, the best part of this relationship, very much fitting with the overall gist of the book, is that Lute is completely supportive of Rhen being her intelligent, beat all the rest, best self and has absolutely no issues being with a woman who is smarter and more successful than he is. Basically, I am totally here for it.

Diversity

I have to give points to Weber for trying to include some aspects of diversity in terms of learning disabilities into the novel. They’re not extremely prominent but they’re there. Rhen, herself, is dyslexic and it was great to see a heroine showcase the fact that having a learning difficulty does not make you stupid or mean it’s impossible for you to excel academically and in life. It may require additional time and effort, but you can get there.

Why You Might Want to Skip It:

Unmemorable & Lacking World Building

One of the things that I often find gets choppy in fantasy standalones is the world building and, unfortunately, it’s also the case with this book. When the novel starts out, the setting is reminiscent of a seaside town in historical England. We’re given a couple of geographical details and some facts about gender roles, the class divide and the fact that fishing is a big industry, but otherwise, it all feels a little bland and also entirely non-magical. That is, until suddenly *poof*, we find out the world has magical creatures – ghouls, sirens, basilisks, oh my. I love magical creatures, don’t get me wrong, but the problem I had with their use here is that they don’t feel properly integrated into the rest of the world. Aside from some elements of the competition, for the most part, they seem like the only magical element in it. As a result, I just ended up largely disinterested in the setting and, at times, a little mystified.

Rushed Competition

I feel as though my expectations may partially be to blame for this one, but it is what it is. When I went into this, I expected that, after some time setting the scene and introducing the characters, the majority of the story would take place in the labyrinth. To my surprise, the book builds up to it only for the actual competition to consist of probably only a bit over a third of the story. Although the novel is around 350 pages long, as I was reading through, I couldn’t help feeling like the tasks were rushed and some lacking in excitement. While I’m aware this isn’t The Hunger Games, I expected slightly more.

WTF Ending

The final challenge is certainly not lacking in drama (even though that drama is not of Mr Holm’s making). Yet, even after having flicked back and re-read through this scene, colour me confused. Everything happens very quickly and although I’m aware of the outcome, how in the world did we end up there and why was it allowed? What was even the point of the entire last challenge if someone could “win” this way. Trying to avoid spoilers here is extremely difficult but I feel as though the way the competition ends isn’t consistent with the idea of besting the boys. While I was on board with the result and everything that followed was great, it always felt somehow…tainted by how it was gained.

To Best the Boys is a reasonably entertaining read with some strong female empowerment themes and a likeable lead. However, due to its plot flaws and lack of a distinctive world, unfortunately, for me, it’s unlikely to be highly memorable or encourage a re-read.

3 Stars

WWW Wednesday | 19.12.18

It’s time for WWW Wednesday (hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words) in which I pad out my blog (hey, at least I’m honest) with an update on what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m currently reading and what I’m planning on reading next (in this case, trying to cram in before 2018 is over). Interested? Of course you are! You clicked on this post. So here we GO.

Recently Finished

40556417To Best the Boys – Mary Weber (ARC)

This ended up being quite different from what I’d expected (no idea how because the blurb is an accurate description of the book). For some reason I expected the story to spend more time on the scholarship contest but they’re only in it for less than 40% of book. Some parts of the competition felt rushed and others lacked excitement. How we reach the end result is also a bit like, what just happened and why?

I liked Rhen as a protagonist – she was smart, strong and sassy. She’s somewhat similar to Audrey Rose from Stalking Jack the Ripper but less obtuse and silly. It’s also a fairly good feminist read (and does try to incorporate some disabilities, too) that manages to make several jabs at its fictional world and the real world simultaneously. However, one of the bigger issues I had was that I was kind of confused about the world – there was this strange blend of fantasy elements, consisting of mostly just random fantastical creatures, with an otherwise historical vibe which just wasn’t really explained.

An okay and reasonably entertaining read but not memorable.

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Currently Reading

40139338Vengeful – V. E. Schwab

This was one of my most anticipated 2018 releases and finally, after having just reread Vicious, I’m doing the thing. So far I’m about 200 pages in. The non-linear structure is proving a bit more challenging to keep up with this time as there isn’t as big a difference between each time period. The plot is moving a little slowly at the moment but I don’t mind too much because I’m getting more info on existing characters and learning about some compelling new ones. Marcella is basically the definition of a badass bitch and I love it. Her character is proving a great addition for me. I’m really excited to see where this all goes.

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Up Next

Ugh. The age old question. I’m running out of time in 2018 and constantly thinking about how many books I can fit in before the end. I should probably consider some of the books I’ve started earlier in the year and got distracted from. One being…

37632716The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

I started this book AGES ago. We’re taking four months, but I’ve always been determined to go back and finish it before the end of the year. It’s why I still haven’t taken it off my currently reading section on Goodreads yet. Anyway, I’m about 140 or so pages in and after this week I’ll have some time off to really get cracking on it. Things were starting to pick up where I last was in the story and the book has so many amazing reviews that I hope it ends up being a fantastic read, even if the start has been a bit slow for me to get into.

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As usual, tell me what you’ve been up to reading wise. Good, bad, utterly forgettable?

And what books are you hoping to still try and squeeze into the rest of 2018?