Here in my neck of the woods, today is the last day of summer vacation - tomorrow, kids start back to school, parents breathe a sigh of relief, and teachers embark upon the next round of brain-filling. May I suggest spending the day with one of these tales? All published since May, all fantastic reads (with awesome cover art to boot), and all a chance for one final imaginary trip.
A Confusion of Princes - Garth Nix
I'm the first to admit that science fiction is generally not my thing; I can count on one hand the number of space operas I've read. But I've really enjoyed Nix's previous books so I figured, eh, why not? Glad I did, because this is one amazing ride. Prince Khemri has been raised in luxury, knowing he is being groomed as a successor to the Emperor - of, you know, the whole damn universe. What he doesn't realize is that he's only one of about ten million princes vying for that honour - oh, and most of them will try to kill each other at the drop of a hat. The world building is excellent, the journey (both physical and emotional) that Khemri goes on is completely believable, and I for one am kind of annoyed that the ending left little to no room for a sequel.
Widdershins - Ari Marmell
Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas
At the age of 17, Celaena Sardothien was the most feared assassin in the country - until she was captured and sentenced to the salt mines as punishment for her crimes. When the crown prince rescues her a year later with the idea of making her his champion in a contest to appoint a new royal assassin, she gets out of the mines and into the palace, which is half glass and hiding some secrets of its own. With her identity hidden behind a false name, she begins training hard again in secret while outwardly presenting as a noblewoman; befriends a prince, a princess, and a guardsman; and stirs up some long-buried secrets on her way to her ultimate goal. This one does look like becoming a series, and I'll definitely be reading whatever comes next!
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
If the acknowledgments are any indication, Maas and Bardugo are friends, which gives me a good feeling about all our multiple Burrow-y endeavours. Anyway, this time we're in a quasi-Russian landscape, in a world where a giant swath of darkness spreads across the country from north to south, cutting off most of the country from its port cities. The Shadow Fold (as it's known) can be crossed, but as it's pitch black and filled with murderous beasts, it's not always easy - and when Alina, panicking over the death of one friend and the threatening of another
during the crossing, suddenly and spontaneously emits a strong light
which drives off the dark-loving predators, she is immediately taken to
the Darkling, who works out a plan to spirit her away for training. You can think of him like a very powerful wizard, but he's also a descendant of the Darkling who created the Fold in the first place. Loving this so far (yeah, just started it, oh well, it's GOOD, so it goes on here).
Seraphina - Rachel Hartman
Bitterblue - Kristin Cashore
This long-awaited sequel to Graceling finally arrived back in May, and what a pleasure it was to dive back into this world. Katsa and Po reappear, but the focus this go-round is on 18-year-old Queen Bitterblue, an ordinary girl in a world of people with extraordinary talents (the Graced, marked by heterochromia) who is trying to rebuild her country after the ravages perpetrated by her mad and evil father. When she sneaks out of the palace and walks the streets anonymously, she discovers that her advisors have been hiding the truth of how bad things are and is determined to do something about it, so with the help of old friends and new she embarks on a coming of age adventure for both herself and her country. The ending ties to Fire, and leaves things open for more tales from this world, which I will await just as eagerly as I did this one.
I think that's enough to choose from for this one last summer day, so what are you waiting for? Grab one and go for it!