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Adult, Young Adult / December 20, 2016

One of my favorite things to read from other bloggers is their favorite books of the year. I’ve read so many amazing books this year, many of my favorites were not new releases. Like The Realm of the Elderlings books by Robin Hobb, in which I still have two more series in that world to finish. For the purposes of this list I will stick to new releases, so here it is, my 5 Favorite New Releases of 2016!

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By: Diane
Adult, Review / October 25, 2016
Den of Wolves by Juliet MarillierDen of Wolves
Publisher: Roc
Date: November 2016
448 pages
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Buy the BookGoodreads

Feather bright and feather fine, None shall harm this child of mine...

Healer Blackthorn knows all too well the rules of her bond to the fey: seek no vengeance, help any who ask, do only good. But after the recent ordeal she and her companion, Grim, have suffered, she knows she cannot let go of her quest to bring justice to the man who ruined her life.

Despite her personal struggles, Blackthorn agrees to help the princess of Dalriada in taking care of a troubled young girl who has recently been brought to court, while Grim is sent to the girl’s home at Wolf Glen to aid her wealthy father with a strange task—repairing a broken-down house deep in the woods. It doesn’t take Grim long to realize that everything in Wolf Glen is not as it seems—the place is full of perilous secrets and deadly lies...

Back at Winterfalls, the evil touch of Blackthorn’s sworn enemy reopens old wounds and fuels her long-simmering passion for justice. With danger on two fronts, Blackthorn and Grim are faced with a heartbreaking choice—to stand once again by each other’s side or to fight their battles alone...

Den of Wolves is the final book in the Blackthorn & Grim trilogy and happily I also think it’s the best.

This review won’t contain any major spoilers for the earlier two books as each is written in a rather self contained way. That said, if you haven’t read this series, you do want to start with book one, Dreamer’s Pool, as these are not stand alone novels. If you haven’t read anything by Juliet Marillier (gasp!) then I would suggest starting with her Sevenwaters trilogy. I still think it’s the best. However there are so many things I love about this one, most of which comes down to Blackthorn and Grim themselves.

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By: Diane
Features / July 26, 2016

Fantasy has long been my favorite genre, and while I have dozens of favorite individual books, I wanted to give some focus to overall favorite authors in the genre. People who I have read and loved more than one book/series and from whom I am always wanting the next story! 🙂

  1. Juliet Marillier: My absolute favorite out of all Marillier’s work is the multi-generational Sevenwaters Trilogy, which kicks off with Daughter of the Forest, a beautiful retelling of the fairy tale The Wild Swans. The second book in the trilogy is Son of the Shadows and features one of my all time top book boyfriends (BRAN)! The entire series is gorgeous. She also has a beautiful beauty and the beast style retelling titled Heart’s Blood that I adore. Her current series is Blackthorn & Grim, featuring the journey of two prison mates, the healer woman Blackthorn and her devoted shadow Grim, after their escape. These all read like historical novels with magic/mysticism woven in.
  2. Patricia McKillip: I am a huge fan of books that feature faeries. To me, no one does this better than McKillip. Frequently the fay are written as little more than what humans would be like if they were immortal, deadly beautiful, and possessed magic powers. It doesn’t seem to be easy for an author to capture that necessary alien quality they should have. At the end of the day I feel these beings should be incomprehensible and totally other. Mckillip gets this. Part of her success comes in that she does not over-expose them, her books are not set in fay worlds. When they influence the story it is always with that distinct and chilling feeling of how remote and unknowable they and their world are. The Book of Atrix Wolfe and Winter Rose are two favorites.
  3. Brandon Sanderson: Prolific and consistently good. I feel The Stormlight Archives are the best even if it is not necessarily the best series for a newbie to his universe. There are plenty of worthy starting places though, his Mistborn series being the most famous.
  4. Scott Lynch: Okay so he is still in the midst of his first series, so I can’t point towards a diverse body of work yet. But seeing as The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of my absolute favorite books of all time and I continue to devour The Gentlemen Bastards series, I could not leave it out.  Stories set around thievery and heists are one of my favorite themes as they inevitably feature the intelligent and morally grey characters I adore (warriors often get away with being thick as mud) and there is no character I love more than Locke.
  5. Laini Taylor: I loved both her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and the lesser known Dreamdark series (which I desperately hope she will one day finish!). She maintains a wonderful balance between consistent characters that are easy to invest in, unique world building, and a heart centered plot. In all her works there is something so unique in the manner which she weaves all three.

Honorable mention for fantasy stories by other authors I have loved over the past year: Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and The Winners Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski.

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By: Diane