Welcome back to another post talking about the upcoming book releases I’m most excited for! This time, we’re covering February 2019. For being the shortest month of the year, February’s no slouch at bringing a plethora of releases, from a dark Cupid and Psyche myth retelling to a girl chasing her rap artist dreams in a new release from Angie Thomas.
It was really hard to choose my most anticipated February release, but here it is:
I had a sister, once…
In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.
I promised her the throne would not come between us.
Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.
But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.
Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.
Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.
Why I Want to Read This: Well, let’s see. I love warrior queens, I love settings with oppressive Empires, and phoenixes are my favorite mythological creatures, even more so than dragons. It’s about time they get more of a spotlight outside of Harry Potter. I’m excited by how big these are going to be, given the whole Phoenix Riders thing, and I’m looking forward to how Nicki Pau Preto is going to redefine them. I’m honestly on board for the sister drama, too—how messy will it be? Also, the girl who disguises herself as a boy trope will never get old. Crown of Feathers seems to be everything I want.
A sweeping historical novel about a dancehall girl and an orphan boy whose fates entangle over an old Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers.
When 11-year-old Ren’s master dies, he makes one last request of his Chinese houseboy: that Ren find his severed finger, lost years ago in an accident, and reunite it with his body. Ren has 49 days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth, unable to rest in peace.
Ji Lin always wanted to be a doctor, but as a girl in 1930s Malaysia, apprentice dressmaker is a more suitable occupation. Secretly, though, Ji Lin also moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her beloved mother’s Mahjong debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir: a severed finger. Convinced the finger is bad luck, Ji Lin enlists the help of her erstwhile stepbrother to return it to its rightful owner.
As the 49 days tick down, and a prowling tiger wreaks havoc on the town, Ji Lin and Ren’s lives intertwine in ways they could never have imagined. Propulsive and lushly written, The Night Tiger explores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love. Braided through with Chinese folklore and a tantalizing mystery, this novel is a page-turner of the highest order.
Why I Want to Read This: I’m actually currently reading an ARC of The Night Tiger, and I think a lot of people are going to enjoy this one. Choo has such a thoughtful way of writing; so much is deliberate but it feels effortless and never fails to capture a magical, dreamlike quality, even when dealing with the mundane. I love the way she writes characters of all different ages and backgrounds because everyone is interesting, and the way her characters ultimately drive the mystery is always so much fun even while things are getting tense.
People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.
But gods are known for their jealousy.
Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.
Psyche’s punishment is to be given to a mysterious creature who only comes to her in the dark of night under the pact that she will never lay eyes on him. She is terrified of this stranger, who the oracle described as a serpent. Her mate, however, is masterful in his dealings with his bride. He takes his time, morphing her fears into different sensations completely.
Based on the Roman/Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche by Lucius Apuleius, New York Times bestseller Wendy Higgins brings the tale to life, weaving layers that show exactly how a sacrificial lamb can be enchanted by an unseen monster.
Why I Want to Read This: Hey, so, ya girl is trash, and Soul in Darkness looks like the problematic, dark romance I always need in my life. Plus, as a big fan of Greek mythology, I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t check it out. That cover, too, is just everything. Thank you, Wendy Higgins, for knowing what I want. Laura Thalassa also loved this book, and I love Laura Thalassa’s work, so I have nothing but good vibes and anticipation for this!
A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.
Get in quick, get out quicker.
These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:
Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism, and harmonious community
When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.
Why I Want to Read This: I love the set-up of Four Dead Queens, and I’m hoping it will deliver as promised. When fantasy and sci-fi are blended well together, I get super excited, and I’ll honestly follow a thief/rogue-type character anywhere. Starting off with all your royal characters dead is also a gutsy move, and I’m eager to see how Keralie and the other characters get wrapped up in the fallout. Also, did you say black market? Gimme that black market.
How do you kill a god?
As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.
Why I Want to Read This: So already with the question, how do you kill a god? I am hooked. I absolutely want to know the answer to this question all the time, and the fact that it is the centermost plot of Warrior of the Wild is awesome. Rasmira sounds like a cool person to meet, and I’m looking forward to how Levenseller will base her world-building on Viking culture while also making it unique.
A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
Why I Want to Read This: First of all, that cover, right? The Priory of the Orange Tree looks gorgeous at least, but the contents appear like they will be just as lush. Assassins caught my eye initially, but Ead’s story as a court outsider using forbidden magic to secretly protect the queen is what really held my attention first. But also dragonriders? Maybe an oncoming war? Yes! I am here for this.
Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…
Why I Want to Read This: First of all, Enchantée is taking place in Paris, but not just Paris. It’s Louis XVI and Marie Antionette time! I’m already enchanted, thanks for asking. But the concept of petty magic sounds super intriguing, and I’m already on board with Camille pulling this con to infiltrate the court at the Palace of Versailles—and that’s before this balloonist and the revolution arrive. Can’t wait to see how complicated all this gets for Camille.
Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the royal family was murdered–down to their youngest child, Princess Anya–and the Union government rose in its place. But Stacia doesn’t think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father’s vineyard with her closest friends, Clio and Pol.
That all changes the day a Union ship appears in town, carrying the leader of the Belt himself, the Direktor Eminent. The Direktor claims that Princess Anya is alive, and that Stacia’s sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists, intent on hiding her. When Stacia is identified as the lost princess, her provincial home explodes into a nightmare.
Pol smuggles her away to a hidden escape ship in the chaos, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission. She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail.
Why I Want to Read This: Hey, so Last of Her Name is a sci-fi Anastasia retelling, and you already have me. I don’t need to know anything else. Still, I’m hoping there’s a good balance between how fleshed out all the characters on the Loyalists and the Union sides are. It always bother me whenever the good guys are the only ones given the time of day.
Roses are read, violets are blue, if you hurt us, we’re coming for you.
The deeply secretive Black Coats have been exacting vengeance on men who hurt girls and women for years. And Thea has just received an invitation to join them. This is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to finally get justice for her cousin Natalie, whose killer went free.
Thea dives head first into the group, training every day with other girls whose stories rival hers. Together they carry out Balancings—acts of revenge guaranteed to teach a lesson. With every predator threatened, every blackmailer exposed, and every date rapist punished, Thea can feel herself getting closer to avenging Natalie’s death.
But then the Balancings begin to escalate in brutality, and Thea discovers that the Black Coats are not all they seem to be. Thea must confront just how far she’s willing to go for justice—and what kind of justice Natalie, and Thea herself, deserve. Because when the line between justice and revenge is razor thin, it’s hard not to get cut.
Why I Want to Read This: As far as contemporary YA novels go, The Black Coats stands out to me in ways that most contemporaries don’t. I love the idea of female vigilante justice, especially given the history of violence women have had to face for far, far too long now, but I’m also fascinated with moral quandaries. How far will the Balancings escalate, and what are the demons Thea will have to personally struggle with? I’m very keen on finding out.
He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.
Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.
Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.
Why I Want to Read This: Dark of the West has perhaps manipulated me a little bit by being compared to The Winner’s Curse, so well played. Yet I’m also incredibly weak for the princess/soldier on opposite sides thing. Not to mention the whole spy falling in love with his mark thing, and the riveting drama of how a mutual attraction can flourish while both parties stay loyal to their families and political ties. Oh, yeah, big fan here. While this book looks fantasy, there’s also talk of fighter pilots and gunshots, so I’m super invested in how this world-building is going to be laid out.
You have heard the story before – of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.
But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?
What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?
Among the Academy’s warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.
Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfill.
Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . .
Why I Want to Read This: I love, love, LOVE stories with a villain’s journey. I especially love stories where a character could be the hero, but their choices drive them to being a villain until it’s too late to do anything about it. “The road to darkness is a journey,” said Lex Luthor, “not a light switch.” If Master of Sorrows gives that to me, and does it well, then I will be eternally grateful because it isn’t done nearly enough. At least, not on purpose and with proper acknowledgement…
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.
Why I Want to Read This: I enjoy hip-hop and rap music a lot, but I also acknowledge that I am so incredibly white. I know the genres aren’t written for me, but there’s still a lot of messages in them that I believe more white people should pick up on and be aware of. There are so many protest pieces, not just in rock music, but in rap and hip-hop, too, that deserve to be acknowledged. As an #OwnVoices book, I expect On the Come Up will be an honest love song to these genres while also highlighting the struggles so often rapped and sung about, and I’m super excited to experience it.
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Why I Want to Read This: I love fairytale and story retellings, and I love when I can breakaway from the typical, Western-based stories and experience something from a culture that isn’t my own. For one thing, it’s usually a fresh experience for me. For another, it’s essential to bury oneself in diverse stories because it’s so enriching. So thank you, Marlon James, for Black Leopard, Red Wolf. I’m so excited to get ahold of it.
After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included. Mira tries to ease her guilt by brewing helpful curatives, but her hunger tonics and headache remedies cannot right past wrongs or save the dissenters her mother vows to purge.
Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant Dauphin. Forced to hide in the derelict sewers beneath the city, any hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible—until Josse’s path collides with Mirabelle’s, and he finds a surprising ally in his sworn enemy.
She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. Together, they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?
Why I Want to Read This: I don’t know why I like stuff that involves poisons; it’s just fascinating to me. Tack on another France-based book (during King Louis XIV’s reign this time), and I’m pretty sure I’ll be hooked on this one. I’m looking forward to seeing how the character’s hopes and morals clash together, because again, I thrive off that drama.
With that, February’s a wrap! I’m thrilled that 2019 is starting out so strong, at least it has for me. I hope the rest of you are feeling those good vibes, too.
Which books are you looking forward to this month? Any on my list you want to gush about? Let me know!