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!

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: Spring & Summer Review Titles

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine (though it seems as though it’s been a while since she updated that particular blog, so if you know of the current host, if there is one, please let me know) that highlights upcoming releases that we’re impatiently waiting for. This week I’m featuring March-June 2021 review copies that I have either in physical form or digital form that I can’t wait to dive into! The release dates are listed but are always subject to change.

  • To Love and To Loathe – Martha Waters :: The first in this series was one of my favorite historical romance reads of 2020, and I love this new style of cover! Releases April 6, 2021.
  • Astrid Sees All – Natalie Standiford :: It’s about young women in New York in the 80s, and that cover is amazing. Releases April 6, 2021.
  • The Other Black Girl – Zakiya Dalila Harris :: Everything about this book sounds amazing and it’s already getting a lot of hype! Releases June 1, 2021.
  • I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories – Kim Bo-Young :: Sci-fi short stories by a South Korean author?? YES. I saw this on the ARC shelf at work and immediately grabbed it. Releases April 6, 2021.
  • Lilyville – Tovah Feldshuh :: I love memoirs, especially ones about women growing up several decades before I was born. Releases April 13, 2021.
  • Composite Creatures – Caroline Hardaker :: Everything about this sounds amazing, and I’m so excited to be on the blog tour for this!! I’ll be posting officially about it on April 28! Releases April 13, 2021.
  • The Ladies of the Secret Circus – Constance Sayers :: I really enjoy historical takes on circuses, especially after reading The Night Circus forever ago, and I’m looking forward to reading this one! Released March 23, 2021.
  • The Final Revival of Opal & Nev – Dawnie Walton :: This is recommended to people who like Daisy Jones and the Six because it’s a fictional music history, and I’m here for it. Released March 30, 2021.
  • Cool for the Summer – Dahlia Adler :: I keep hearing about this because of the bi rep it has, and honestly it just sounds really cute. Releases May 11, 2021.
  • The Tangleroot Palace – Marjorie Liu :: I have only read the first volume of her Monstress graphic novel and I really should get around to finishing it, but this is a collection of short stories by her and LOOK at that COVER. Releases June 15, 2021.

Are any of these on your to-read list? What one would you read first?

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.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books on my Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and last week’s topic (that I’m doing this week instead) is “Books on my Spring TBR” and some of these have been on some form of a TBR at some point or another, and I’m going to read them by the time the spring season is over!! I read seven of the ten I chose for winter, and I’m currently in the middle of the eighth! The other two will be read eventually, but I am going to pursue this list as it’s something new and exciting!

  • Walk the Wild With Me by Rachel Atwood – This is a revisit to the mythology of Robin Hood, and I’ve been in the mood for these kinds of retellings, so when I saw this out on the shelves at my store, I immediately grabbed it and have kept my eye on it since. It feels like a spring read to me, so this is the perfect time to read it.
  • Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven – I want to read more fantasy and romance, especially after catching up completely on the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and this feels right along the lines of what I’m wanting to read.
  • Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling – I loved her debut novel The Luminous Dead and this looks and feels very gothic fantasy.
  • Cherry by Nico Walker – This has been on my radar since its release, mostly because that cover is compelling, but now that it’s a movie with Tom Holland, it’s moved up my TBR a little bit.
  • The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso – The Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy is complete this year, and now I can finally start it! I’ve heard so many good things about this book and its sequel, and for some series, I’m very weird and only like to read them if I can get my hands on the entire series…
  • The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning – This is a feminist retelling of The Princess Bride, and the second part of the duology releases this year, and I’m a super in the mood for fantasy everything.
  • Star Wars The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule – So many new Star Wars books have come out in the last year and I’ve bought so many of them, and I’ve been really excited for this next chapter in the Star Wars saga!
  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – This trilogy is complete now, and the hardcovers all look beautiful, and again, I am in the mood for fantasy trilogies.
  • Persephone Station by Stina Leicht – I bought this on release day in January, and this is the only title I’m carrying over officially from the Winter TBR!
  • Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas – I don’t know why I’ve been putting off reading this, but after finishing A Court of Silver Flames I want to get caught up on everything she’s released so far because I’ve also not read the last three books in the Throne of Glass series!

What’s on your spring TBR?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books On My TBR Published Before I Was Born

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “books on my TBR published before I was born.” These are all books I own, so I just looked at my nightstand and TBR cart for inspiration! Some of these were part of my challenge last year that I never completed, but that’s okay! I’m already a little more organized this year than I was last year.

  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – I am that English major who has never read any Woolf…
  • The Shining by Stephen King – The only King I’ve ever read is On Writing, and I’m definitely changing that this year.
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – I want to read more of her mysteries, and I found a little mass market at the thrift store the other day!
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell – I feel like one should read both 1984 and this, so I want to get to this one this year.
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – I’m trying to read the rest of Jane Austen, but I definitely wasn’t feeling the last one I tried to read.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – I read the abridged version of this, and the movie that came out a while ago is one of my favorites, so I should definitely read the unabridged version!
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – This is another one where I loved the mini series but have never read the book!
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin – Le Guin is one of my favorite writers, and I’m working on reading all of her work.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck – Another one where I feel like a bad English major, but I just read Of Mice and Men a couple years ago, and now it’s time to read this.
  • If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin – The two other books of his I’ve read have been amazing, so I want to read this one before I watch the movie.

What is your favorite book published before you were born?