Tuesday, January 31, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival


A Childhood in Syria

"The second time Doaa nearly drowned, she was adrift in the center of a hostile sea that had just swallowed the man she loved. She was so cold she couldn’t feel her feet, and so thirsty her tongue had swollen in her mouth. She was so overcome with grief that if not for the two tiny baby girls in her arms, barely alive, she would have let the sea consume her. No land was in sight. Just debris from the shipwreck, a few other survivors praying for rescue, and dozens of bloated, floating corpses.

Thirteen years earlier, a small lake, rather than the vast ocean, had almost taken her, and that time Doaa’s family was there to save her. She was six years old and the only one in her family who’d refused to learn to swim. She was terrified of the water; just the sight of it filled her with dread."

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book a few weeks ago and am finally (hopefully) going to be getting around to it within the next week or so! I have quite a few books that I plan to read soon, so I'm not completely sure what order I will be reading them, but I plan to make this one a priority. A bit more background: this book tells the story of a Syrian refugee, Doaa Al Zamel, as she flees from Syria to Egypt and eventually to Europe.  

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What is the What by Dave Eggers

What is the What by Dave Eggers. Vintage, 2007. Paperback. 560 pages.

After I finished What is the What, I couldn't help but feel a bit of relief. This book is long, packed with information, and relentless in its lack of positive events. This book definitely made me put on my reading brakes and slow down a bit. What is the What is an average sized book, but because of the thin pages, small font, and dense content, this book took a bit longer than expected to read. Fortunately, I can honestly say that the books did hold my attention very well for a majority of the story.

This book is written in a first person narrative by Valentino Achak Deng himself, but it is written by Dave Eggers, which makes it a bit of a fictionalized autobiography. What is the What takes the reader along on Valentino's journey from a young boy living in Sudan to a lost refugee trying to make his way to safety, and eventually to a life in America.

What is the What is mainly split into two main time frams: Valentino in the present-day, telling his story, and Valentino as a younger boy in Sudan. The present day point of view only covers about two days of his life in total, and it is in these two days that Valentino takes the reader back and forth while and narrates his life and journey in Sudan as a young boy to a young man. In addition to these two time frames, there are also narratives interspersed between the present and past in which Valentino relates memories about his recent past living in America. If all of what I just described sounds confusing, it's because it sort of is at first, but fortunately it's easy to catch on. Plus, the style changes somewhat when he is narrating his past, which helps understand when a time frame change has taken place.

You have to pay attention in this book. There are so. many. details. I felt lost trying to remember all of the names of many of the characters, so I stopped trying if a name or location didn't stick with me. And although this is a frustrating aspect of the story, it is a positive at the same time, as it adds a certain level of intrigue and authenticity that really helped me become immersed into the life of Valentino.

The content itself is fascinating. Valentino's story is heartbreaking, full of hope and despair all at the same time. I felt inspired by the crazy, intense struggles Valentino went through and how he handled everything. This book is harsh reminder of what life is like for many war refugees, and an important look into what life is like in many of these circumstances.

With as much detail and careful thought that was put into the telling of this story, however, I still found myself feeling lost or as if I was missing things at times. Certain minor details were never expanded upon (i.e. his headaches - did he ever get medical treatment for them? is there anything wrong? I need answers!) and it frustrated me to have so much information presented to me, but at the same time not having enough information presented to me about important events and aspects. Time periods are occasionally skipped over, and I wanted to hear more about some of them.

This is what I consider a great example of Eggers' writing. I've read a few of his other books, the most recent being The Circle, and I was extremely disappointed. His writing did not seem up to par, and is absolutely not what I would recommend to someone who is just trying out Eggars' writing for the first time - this book is. Overall, I am giving What is the What our stars!

You might also like:
The Secret Book of Kings by Yochi Brandes
Consequence by Eric Fair
The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Friday, January 27, 2017

Anticipated February 2017 Releases!

Below I have spotlighted a few of the many wonderful new books coming out in February that I am eagerly anticipating! Let me know in the comments below if you are excited for any of these - or let me know what books you're looking forward to that aren't on this list! (Also, I've been noticing quite a cool-colored cover theme lately - I love it!)

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)Norse Mythology
Miranda and CalibanThe Ship Beyond Time (The Girl From Everywhere, #2)The Valiant
IdahoThe Mutual Admiration SocietyThe Orphan's Tale
Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King, #1)Frogkisser!Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab - February 21st
Gilded Cage by Vic James - February 14th (ARC review coming soon!)
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman - February 7th
Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey - February 14th
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig - February 28th
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston - February 14th
American Street by Ibi Zoboi - February 14th
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich - February 16th
The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen - February 1st
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff - February 21st (ARC review coming soon!)
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller - February 28th
Frogkisser! by Garth Nix - February 28th
Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life by Jessica Nutik Zitter - February 21st (Review coming soon!)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And the Trees Crept In
And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016. Hardcover. 352 pages.

I read this book back in December, but since I never got around to posting my review then, I'm posting it now!

And the Trees Crept In was definitely creepy and I liked it a lot. I'm not very much into the horror genre, but I had such a great time reading this book it makes me want to read so many more books like this!

What I loved most about this book was the overall tone and attitude. I was increasingly drawn to the vivid descriptions of Silla and her sister, Nori, as they wasted away inside the house. It was done in an extremely realistic manner, which made it that much more haunting. The beginning of the book was a little difficult to get into, but I decided to plow through and eventually things started to fall into place.

I would easily describe Silla as an unreliable narrator, and I think that adds to the creepy nature of this book in major ways. Her narration is presented in the form of various journal entries, so the entire experience is very personal. As a reader, we're never fully sure what is actually happening or what is real and what is not. Kurtagich clearly knows how to write intense plot lines and settings, and I could slowly feel the hysteria begin to set in as the story progressed and Silla began to fall into her own madness.

There were a lot of themes related to consumption, such as starvation, finding food, having no appetite, and being unable to eat because of digestion issues as a result of starvation, all of which added an element of authenticity to the story. For much of the story, the girls struggle to find food, and this notion seems to drive so much of the story - their hair becomes weak and falls out, her teeth grow bad, her stomach rejects food, she begins to lose her mind. A line seems to be drawn between whether or not all of these things are being caused by the lack of nutrition or supernatural things occurring.

The ending was really kind of disappointing, but quite frankly I"m not sure how else it would end. Personally, I felt that the overall concept of the ending was somewhat predictable, but it fit the story. I have a lot of thoughts on this ending that I would love to go into more detail to discuss, but I would like to avoid any spoilers in this review, so I'm going to refrain from doing so.

Overall, I have decided to give And the Trees Crept In four stars!

You might also like:
Slade House by David Mitchell
The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Harlequin Teen
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1)
"'A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining.'

So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa’s heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the University, which admits all manner of peoples—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of her people—is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch."

There are so many aspects of this blurb that interest me:  prophecies, 'Black Witches,' apothecaries, a university setting -- I need it now! There are a few elements that do bring me some worry, such as having another protagonist that is somehow lacking a power she is supposed to have, but I definitely have high hopes for this one. Also, I am really entranced by this cover aesthetic. 

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: What is the What by Dave Eggers

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

What is the What by Dave Eggers

What Is the What


"What is the What is the soulful account of my life: from the time I was separate from my family in Marial Bai to the thirteen years I spent in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, to my encounter with vibrant Western cultures beginning in Atlanta, to the generosity and the challenges that I encountered elsewhere. As you read this book, you will learn about  me and my beloved people of Sudan. I was just a young boy when the twenty-two-year civil war began that pitted Sudan's government against the Sudan's People Liberation Movement/Army. As a helpless human, I survived by trekking across many punishing landscapes while being bombed by Sudanese air forces, while dodging land mines, while being preyed upon by wild beasts and human killers."

Chapter 1

"I have no reason not to answer the door so I answer the door. I have no tiny round window to inspect visitors so I open the door and before me is a tall, sturdily built African-American woman, a few years older than me, wearing a red nylon sweatsuit. She speaks to me loudly. "You have a phone, sir?"

She looks familiar. I am almost certain that I saw her in the parking lot an hour ago, when I returned from the convenience store. I saw her standing by the stairs, and I smiled at her. I tell her that I do have a phone.

"My car broke down on the street," she says. Behind her, it is nearly night. I have been studying most of the afternoon. "Can you let me use your phone to call the police?" she asks."

(Note: I decided to add a preview of the preface as well in order to give a bit of background to what this book is all about.)
I'm actually just wrapping this one up -- I'll probably finish today -- but I've been dying to share it with people! This is such a gripping story that is written in a really interesting way. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the style, but it's been working really well. I definitely recommend it! 

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mini-Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Spiegel & Grau, 2015. Hardcover. 152 pages.

The reason I decided to make this a mini-review today is because I feel as if there is not much I can say about this book that would truly do it justice.  This is a book that is better read about than told about. It was the breakout bestseller of 2015, and after reading it, I completely understand (and I also now understand also why it took 10+ months to get it from my library's waiting list!).

Between the World and Me is a heavy book; it is honest, raw, and will speak to you in ways you likely haven't experienced before. The message I received from this book is a well-versed, carefully laid out version of a lot of the things that I have been hearing from many people - both online and in person - lately. Having everything collected together in this coherent, sincere, and informative book really helped me to understand many of these racial issues better.

This book is set up in the form of Coates writing a letter to his son, and I think this makes the entire book that much heavier. This is real, this is life, and this is a must-read. Even if you aren't fully on board with everything you read - that's okay, because it opens up the discussion, and you can introduce this book to your friends and family and explore what Coates is saying together. And did I mention how small this book is? It's just a tiny book, coming in at only 152 pages, and the book itself is a bit shorter than most hardcovers, so it is definitely doable and won't take up much of your time -- but hopefully its contents will stay with you much longer.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Books I Thought I Would Love, But Didn't

We've all been there. You spy the book. You find out more about the book. You hear rave reviews from friends, family, or other book bloggers. You finally get your hands on the book.... and you're sorely disappointed. It's okay, we can't love them all. It hurts, but it happens. Today I thought I would share with you all some of the books that I thought I would really enjoy, but instead ended up putting it down with an empty heart. (These are listed in no particular order, and this post is not meant to offend anyone. I might hate a book you love, and you might hate a book I love. It's all good! I respect your opinions and and am glad we can all enjoy books in different ways. :) )

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1) The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
I had such high hopes for this book. The cover alone made me think that this would be an incredible fantasy story that I would fall in love with. But... this book bored me to tears. At this point, I hardly even remember what happens, only that it happened at such a slow pace that I couldn't find myself caring much about the plot. The characters were also lacking in much personality, and I just did not enjoy this one. (Review)

Alif the Unseen
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
Okay, so the summary for this one begins like this: In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind." Sounds intriguing, no? The book even later incorporates The Thousand and One Nights, but still.. this book just lacked. I felt that the plot was rather thin, the romance was too quick, and the pacing was just very off.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Before you start hating me and throwing rocks at me, please let me explain. I think the concept behind this book is brilliant, and I can certainly understand what makes this so popular, but I just didn't enjoy it. Much like in The Queen of the Tearling, I was just bored. I felt like nothing much happened, which I'm normally okay with in books, but unfortunately it didn't work for me. It felt a bit too corny and like it was pushing too hard on its 'clever' idea of having death narrate.

Crimson Bound

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
I don't have a lot to say about this one, but it was just pretty flat. I was also incredibly confused, and I never felt connected to any part of this story. I have to say, the cover is incredible, though!

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn, #1)

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Another one where I somehow missed the memo on loving this one. I wanted so badly to love this, and I just can't help but feel like something is wrong with me, but I just didn't. The story didn't make any sense and I didn't like many of the characters. I'm debating checking out the second book just to see if maybe it gets better, but I don't know if I'm up for that. Feel free to let me know your opinions! (Review)

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1)

Legacy of Kings  by Eleanor Herman
An Alexander the Great story! Ancient Greece! Yes! Unfortunately, it did not turn out as well as I'd hoped. The story didn't feel authentic and I found it to have a bit too much going on. (Review)

The Little Paris Bookshop
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
This was supposed to be a story about a bookstore owner that prescribes people books to help them with their ailments. And it was... sort of. But it was more of a book about a wandering man not doing much of anything. I didn't enjoy it much and definitely lost interest. (Review)

The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
There was so much promise for this book, but unfortunately the execution fell through. The characters didn't seem to have much dimension or complexity to them, and I felt the handling of the entire miniaturist plot line was poorly done. (Review)

Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles, #1)
Wildwood by Colin Meloy
This sounded so fun and whimsical, but it was about 300 pages too long. It was supposed to be exciting and and full of life, but it was convoluted and slow. This is a middle grade novel, but I can't imagine many younger readers making it through this one.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
I so badly wanted to love this book. Watches are fascinating to me, and I thought a story centering around, you know, a watchmaker might be of interest, especially considering it's about a special watch that just shows up one day. But the plot seemed incredibly thin and hard to follow, and I just wasn't impressed overall. (Review)

What are some books that disappointed you? Do you have any thoughts on any of these books?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen. St. Martin's Griffin, 2015. Paperback. 368 pages.

Most of you probably know the story of Peter Pan, or have at the very least seen the Disney movie version of Peter Pan. From those stories, we know that Captain Hook loses the fight against Peter Pan and is fed to the crocodile. But what we don't know, according to Alias Hook, is that he didn't actually die in that fight because Captain Hook is cursed to lived forever in Neverland and cannot physically die. It's really a pretty unfortunate situation, but Lisa Jensen tells the story beautifully.

Alias Hook was a little difficult to get into at first, and there were a few chapters towards the beginning where I was still very unsure whether or not I wanted to continue on with the story. I plowed through, however, because the prose was lovely and premise fascinated me, and I must say that it paid off and I'm incredibly glad to have read this book.

The world of Neverland that Jensen created is fantastic and so full of the magic and darkness that I crave so much in retellings like these. I adore what Jensen has created, from the nuances and 'rules' that Peter Pan has for the world, to the way in which Neverland exists and people can visit and the various inhabitants of the land. Jensen has captured a unique magic that combines the nostalgia and excitement of youth with the adventurous and difficult journeys of adulthood, including both love and loss.

I really enjoyed exploring the different aspects of Hook's character that are often overlooked. He is jaded and hopeless, stuck in a land where he can never win, never leave, and never die. But at the same time, we are able to discern a small piece hope in him that surfaces at various moments throughout the novel that lend to some truly beautiful, exciting moments.

I also loved Stella. She is a bold, exciting, and endearing character that I felt had a wonderful relationship dynamic with Hook. This story would not exist without Stella, and she is the perfect catalyst for ever aspect of change that occurs throughout the story. I loved the interactions between Stella and Hook, and their chemistry was simply perfect. They are two very different people, but they still fit so well - they bickered and they had different hopes and dreams, but it all came down to them at the end, and I think it was written wonderfully well.

On the whole, I have very conflicting thoughts on this book. I loved the concept, the storyline, the worldbuilding - all of the major components of this book were brilliant, and it was whimsical well thought-out. This book contains a very elegant prose style, and because of this the writing did not always feel exceptionally accessible. I kept having to reinforce my reading and make sure I was focusing on the story and not zoning out instead. But... although the prose is somewhat difficult to connect with, it is also very beautiful at the same time, and by the end of the book I realized that I didn't mind the extra effort involved at all. There were many times when I wished to highlight or mark various passages, and I felt very moved by many of the emotions and events Hook undertook.

Overall, I am giving Alias Hook four stars! I truly cannot wait to read more from Lisa Jensen.

And if you are looking for even more Peter Pan-inspired stories that are absolutely gorgeous, I would like to take the time to highly recommend you go check out Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

You might also like:
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Arabella of Mars by David Levine
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Ithaca by Patrick Dillon

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Broken Ones by Danielle Jensen!

This cover reveal features Danielle Jensen's upcoming publication, The Broken Ones, which a prequel for The Malediction Trilogy. The first book in the series is Stolen Songbird, which I loved and highly encourage all to check out! Before I reveal the cover, however, I would like to share the synopsis of this book, just to give you all some context...

The Broken Ones by Danielle Jensen
A prequel to the USA Today bestseller and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy).
Below Forsaken Mountain, a revolution stirs with the aim to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right hand of its leader. It’s a secret more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it from everyone, even the girl he loves.
Since a tragic accident revealed her affliction and ruined her sister’s chance at the throne, Pénélope is an anathema to her father, the Duke d’Angoulême. Deeming her life worthless, he gives her one chance to survive: find proof that the boy she loves is a leader in the sympathizer revolution.
Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.
Except being together might be the greatest risk of all.

And now, without further ado, here is the cover!


This cover is gorgeous, and was designed by the talented artist Steven Stone. You can find out more about him and his work at his website and through his artist portfolio on Artist Partners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway About the author: 
View More: http://heatherpalmer.pass.us/danielle-jensen
e L. Jensen was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous, and it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy: Stolen SongbirdHidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch

Follow Danielle L. Jensen on Amazon
Website: http://www.danielleljensen.com
Twitter; @dljensen
Instagram: danielleljensen
Facebook: @authordanielleljensen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7091823.Danielle_L_Jensen

Cover Reveal_Twitter

Preorder links!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Underrated Books I've Read in the Past Year

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is all about our top underrated reads from 2016! I have chosen to feature a few published in 2016, but also many backlist books because I read a lot of those. These are all books that I really enjoyed or felt deserved more praise and recognition than they actually got.

The Last Wish

1. The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
"Geralt was always going to stand out, with his white hair and piercing eyes, his cynicism and lack of respect for authority ... but he is far more than a striking-looking man. He's a witcher, with powers that make him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin - his targets are the vile fiends that ravage the land.

As guardian of the innocent, Geralt meets incestuous kings with undead daughters, vengeful djinns, shrieking harpies, lovelorn vampires and despondent ghouls. Many are pernicious, some are merely, and none are quite as they appear."

2. Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon
Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon"The hugely illuminating story of how a popular breed of dog became the most demonized and supposedly the most dangerous of dogs—and what role humans have played in the transformation.

Her search for answers takes her from nineteenth-century New York City dogfighting pits—the cruelty of which drew the attention of the recently formed ASPCA—to early twentieth‑century movie sets, where pit bulls cavorted with Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton; from the battlefields of Gettysburg and the Marne, where pit bulls earned presidential recognition, to desolate urban neighborhoods where the dogs were loved, prized—and sometimes brutalized.

Whether through love or fear, hatred or devotion, humans are bound to the history of the pit bull. With unfailing thoughtfulness, compassion, and a firm grasp of scientific fact, Dickey offers us a clear-eyed portrait of this extraordinary breed, and an insightful view of Americans’ relationship with their dogs."

3. Impyrium by Henry H. Neff
Impyrium"In the first book of Henry Neff’s new high-stakes middle grade fantasy series, two unlikely allies—the Faeregine princess Hazel and the servant boy Hob—confront a conspiracy that will shake the world of Impyrium to its core.

For over three thousand years, the Faeregine dynasty has ruled Impyrium. But the family’s magic has been fading, and with it their power over the empire. Whether it’s treachery from a rival house, the demon Lirlanders, or rebel forces, many believe the Faereginese are ripe to fall.

Hazel, the youngest member of the royal family, is happy to leave ruling to her sisters so that she can study her magic. But the Empress has other plans for her granddaughter, dark and dangerous plans to exploit Hazel’s talents and rekindle the Faeregine mystique. Hob, a commoner from the outer realms, has been sent to the city to serve the Faeregines—and to spy on them.

One wants to protect the dynasty. The other wants to destroy it. But when Hazel and Hob form an improbable friendship, their bond may save the realm as they know it…or end it for good."

Arabella of Mars
4. Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

"Ever since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, they proved that space travel was both possible and profitable. 

Now, one century later, a plantation in the flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby. A tomboy who shares her father's deft hand with complex automatons. Being raised on the Martian frontier by her Martian nanny, Arabella is more a wild child than a proper young lady. Something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England. 

Arabella soon finds herself trying to navigate an alien world until a dramatic change in her family's circumstances forces her to defy all conventions in order to return to Mars in order to save both her brother and the plantation. To do this, Arabella must pass as a boy on the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company with a mysterious Indian captain who is intrigued by her knack with automatons. Arabella must weather the naval war between Britain and France, learning how to sail, and a mutinous crew if she hopes to save her brother from certain death."

5. Over the Underworld by Adam Shaughnessy
Over the Underworld (The Unbelievable FIB, #2)It’s been a year since friends ABE and Pru joined Mister Fox’s Fantasy Investigation Bureau--otherwise known as the Unbelievable FIB--to save their hometown from an invasion of Viking gods and giants. Life has been incredibly ordinary ever since. But that’s all about to change when the Norse Allfather, Odin, appears with terrible news: Baldur, his favorite son, has been murdered. It’s the first step in a fated chain of events that leads to Ragnarok--the end of the world.

6. The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
The Book of Strange New Things
"It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. 

Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us." 

7. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"The River of Doubt—it is a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world. Indians armed with poison-tipped arrows haunt its shadows; piranhas glide through its waters; boulder-strewn rapids turn the river into a roiling cauldron.

After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever.

Along the way, Roosevelt and his men faced an unbelievable series of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks. Three men died, and Roosevelt was brought to the brink of suicide. The River of Doubt brings alive these extraordinary events in a powerful nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.
From the soaring beauty of the Amazon rain forest to the darkest night of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, here is Candice Millard’s dazzling debut."

Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall
8. Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff

""Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall" is a lavishly illustrated, all-ages fantasy book with detailed world-building. Follow Barra, a young Listlespur, and her two friends, Tory and Plicks, as they save their home, the Great Trees of Cerulean, from a blight that is darkening their world. They must learn more about their planet and adventure through it to save it."

9. The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler

The Outside Lands"San Francisco, 1968: Jeannie and Kip are lost and half-orphaned, their mother dead under mysterious circumstances, and their father - a decorated WWII veteran - consumed by guilt and losing sight of his teenage children. Kip, a dreamer and swaggerer prone to small-time trouble, enlists to fight in Vietnam; Jeannie finds a seemingly safe haven in early marriage and motherhood. But when Kip is accused of a terrible military crime, Jeannie is seduced - sexually, emotionally, politically - into joining an ambiguous anti-war organization. As Jeannie attempts to save her brother, her search for the truth leads her into two relationships, with a troubled young woman, and a grievously-wounded veteran, that might threaten her marriage, her child, and perhaps her life."

10. Kings or Pawns by JJ Sherwood
Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power #1; The Kings #1)"The first book in JJ Sherwood's Steps of Power epic fantasy series. The Kings, Book I: Kings or Pawns is a political intrigue that spirals into an action and adventure series as the final events unfold. 

8,994 P.E.—The elven city of Elvorium has become corrupted to the core by politics. With his father dead and the Royal Schism at his back, Prince Hairem ascends the throne as king of the elven world on Sevrigel. Young and bold, Hairem is determined to undo the council’s power, but the brutal murders by an assassin loosed within the city threaten to undermine the king’s ambitions.
As corruption and death threaten to tear Elvorium apart from within, the warlord Saebellus threatens the city from without, laying siege to Sevrigel’s eastern capital. With the elven world crumbling around him, Hairem finds himself in a dangerous political balance between peace and all out war."

**All summaries are taken from the book's Goodreads page. 

What are some of your underrated reads? Have you read any of these? Leave your throughts in the comments!