FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Phoenix Unbound, by Grace Draven

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! The latest feature for these reads are all of the books on my Spring TBR!

For Gilene, spring was the season neither of rain nor of planting, but of suffering.

She waited beside her mother, sister, and brothers as the caravan of shackled women plodded down Beroe’s market street toward the town square. The slavers of the Empire guided the line, shoving their cargo forward with harsh commands and the occasional warning crack of a whip.

She had already exchanged farewells with her mother and siblings. Each had embraced her, dry-eyed and grim-faced. This wasn’t their first parting, and for good or ill, it wouldn’t be their last.

Her eldest brother, Nylan, squeezed her shoulder. “We’ll be waiting for you in the usual spot,” he said in low tones meant for only her to hear. Gilene nodded, reaching up to pat his hand.

Her eyebrows arched when her mother sidled a little closer, her fingertips brushing Gilene’s sleeve in a hesitant caress, “Come back to us when it’s over.”

Gilene kept her reply behind her teeth. It was never over. Not for her. Despite her mother’s half-hearted gesture of comfort, she wouldn’t defend her daughter. Gilene would endure this every year until her age and her scars crippled her so badly, she could no longer wield her magic well enough to fool the Empire, and her burden became another’s. Her resentment served to blunt her fear.

I don’t remember exactly where I found this title, but I was in the mood for specifically fantasy romance, so I’m sure I found this on a Goodreads list and added it to my TBR!

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Walk the Wild With Me, by Rachel Atwood

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! The latest feature for these reads are all of the books on my Spring TBR!

Walk the Wild With Me by Rachel Atwood“Time runs different ‘neath the Faery Mound than it does here in Sherwood Forest.” Little John whispered the words so softly they had little more sound than the soft rustling of leaves from a spring breeze. Beside him, the boy Tuck crouched, peering with him through the bushes at the low Faery Mound. In his youth and innocence, the boy could find wonder as he looked at the round hill isolated on a flat plain, the patterned stones around the base, and the poisonous toadstools that marked it for what it was.

Deep despair ran through Little John as his body sought to return to its natural form, to be able to feel the solidity of a branched trunk, his toes becoming roots digging into the nourishing soil, and experience the air dancing among his leaves. It was times like this, so close to the old ways that he had difficulty holding his human form, when his heart so longed to return to his tree, a three-hundred-year-old oak. A tree has patience, marking seasons but not years or decades.

The cover of this caught my eye because it’s delightfully medieval-esque, and then when I read the back and discovered it was a Robin Hood revisit, I knew I had to have it for my shelf. Retellings of all sorts generally end up being favorites of mine, because I love seeing what people do with a familiar, favorite story and make it their own and make it new.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Cemetery Boys, by Aidan Thomas

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the rest of the year, I’m going to feature books by non-white writers, partially because I just did a whole list of classics by a majority of white writers and partially because I am continually focusing on purchasing and reading books by non-white writers for a whole list of reasons. The books featured will range from “classics” to adult fiction to YA/middle grade fiction, and these are all I’ve had on my shelf for a bit that I want to read by the end of this year or within the first few months of 2021! I can’t believe it’s basically the middle of November already, but time flies when you’re in the middle of a stress-bomb called COVID-19. Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask!

Yadriel wasn’t technically trespassing because he’d lived in the cemetery his whole life. But breaking into the church was definitely crossing the moral-ambiguity line.

Still, if he was going to finally prove he was a brujo, he had to perform the rite in front of Lady Death.

And she was waiting for him inside the church.

The black Hydro Flask full of chicken blood thumped against Yadriel’s hip as he snuck past his family’s small house at the front of the cemetery. The rest of the supplies for the ceremony were tucked away inside his backpack. He and his cousin Maritza ducked under the front windows, careful not to bump their heads on the sills. Silhouettes of the brujx celebrating inside danced across the curtains. Their laughter and the sound of music filtered through the graveyard. Yadriel paused, crouching in the shadows to check the coast was clear before he jumped from the porch and took off. Maritza followed close behind, her footsteps echoing in tandem with Yadriel’s as they ran down stone paths and through puddles.

Adrian Thomas’s Cemetery Boys has been buzzy in my neck of the book internet, and the premise intrigued me from the get-go. Thankfully my store got copies on release day so I could buy it, and I wanted to read it around Halloween but life took a different turn than I was expecting with the death of my cat and work getting busier/more stressful. But after reading the first few pages in preparation for this post, I definitely am bumping it up to the top of my TBR because it already sounds so good and perfectly spooky.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: When No One is Watching, by Alyssa Cole

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the rest of the year, I’m going to feature books by non-white writers, partially because I just did a whole list of classics by a majority of white writers and partially because I am continually focusing on purchasing and reading books by non-white writers for a whole list of reasons. The books featured will range from “classics” to adult fiction to YA/middle grade fiction, and these are all I’ve had on my shelf for a bit that I want to read by the end of this year or within the first few months of 2021! I can’t believe it’s basically the middle of November already, but time flies when you’re in the middle of a stress-bomb called COVID-19. Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask!

History is fucking wild.

Last fall, on a night when my ass was getting well acquainted with the uncomfortable guest chair in Mommy’s hospital room, I’d numbly tapped and swiped my way to an article about a place called Black America. Not the label politicians use to place our concerns into a neat box full of worries they don’t have to attend to immediately or ever, but an actual, tangible place — a slavery theme park that’d opened in Brooklyn at the end of the nineteenth century.

Slavery. Fucking. Theme park.

Black America, the theme park, was billed as “an opportunity to become familiar with plantation life for those of the North who belong to a generation to which the word slavery has but an indefinite and hazy meaning.” This was, like, twenty years after slavery ended, mind you. I mean, I too get nostalgic when an eighties jam starts playing on the radio, but these motherfuckers really needed to reminisce about owning humans?

I am so excited to read this. The back blurb says it’s Rear Window meets Get Out, and I’m so excited to read a thriller by Alyssa Cole because I’ve loved all of the romances I’ve read by her so far. In the last year and a half she’s become one of my autobuy authors with her romance books, and I can’t wait to see what she does with thrillers.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! This is the last title I’ve chosen that I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). One of the last essays I ever wrote for my undergraduate degree was on Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, and I loved it so much that I made a note to read more of Wharton in the years to come. However, it’s now been almost eight years since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and I haven’t read another word of Wharton. When Scribner released beautiful new covers on The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, I bought both of them and immediately added The Age of Innocence to this #12decades12books challenge.

On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.

Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances “above the Forties,” of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendour with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the “new people” whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music.

It was Madame Nilsson’s first appearance that winter, and what the daily press had already learned to describe as “an exceptionally brilliant audience” had gathered to hear her, transported through the slippery, snowy streets in private broughams, in the spacious family landau, or in the humbler but more convenient “Brown coupe.”

What did you read in school that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise? How has an instructor shaped your enjoyment of something?