Better than Chocolate: My Latest Book Haul

This month, I’m sharing some of the books from my latest book haul. These are books full of friendship and love, sacrifice, loss, prophetic warnings, and heroic victory. I’ve loved having lots of quiet moments recently to soak up good stories and get carried away to exotic places. Reading always rejuvenates my soul.

This month’s selections:

51NJDG8ZarL1.  The setting for House of Salt and Sorrows by R. Erin Craig set the tone and added to the overall spooky ambiance. The sea permeates every aspect of the characters’ lives. From the first scene where the main character, Annaleigh, puts her sister to rest in a watery grave until the very last pages, the sea shapes the story. After her fourth sister’s death in a short amount of time, the villagers avoid the family after declaring them cursed. Sadness fills every corner of their manor as the other eight sisters try to find hope again. Chancing upon a secret passageway to a fairy tale castle, the girls are drawn there night after night to dance their troubles away.

This retelling of the classic story of the twelve dancing princesses is full of ghostly images and secrets. As the story unfolds, Annaleigh risks herself to protect her sisters from the evil out to get them. (Delacorte Press, 2019)

Similar books where place is a character: Ketterdam in Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo; space ships in Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Cover-withSeal2.  As a kid, I read every horse book I could get my hands on. Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut is a priceless gem in that genre, but so much more than just a horse book. For instance, the Andalusian war horses are powerful, smart, and able to talk. Not only that, they are full of witty retorts and give the best heart-to-heart pep talks. El Cid is a pillar of strength to the main character, Matt, and comforts him throughout the book. The personality of the horses is just as bright as their human companions.

The Del Toro family, along with their talking war horses, protects the world from a disgustingly gruesome type of monster- the skinners. This fight has waged for centuries under the direction of the Spanish crown, but only for a few centuries in the New World. Growing up, Matt has been aware of his family’s responsibility, but finally gets a chance to test his mettle against the beasts. The true hero of the book is Javier Del Toro, single father of Matt and Ben. His larger than life and tough guy persona is man enough to be a good father to his boys. This book hits all the right buttons of family, love, honor, and the pride of doing a job well done. (Owl Hollow Press, 2018)

Similar books where animals are strong characters: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (more horses!); The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman (Watch the show, too!!)

51AjVwO8RlL3.  There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool contains multiple points of view with an array of fleshed out main characters. There are five vivid voices with distinct story lines and problems. Ephyra’s journey to save her sister’s life at all costs resonated with me. I wondered how far I would be willing to go to save someone that I loved.

Before too long, the people’s lives tangle into each other and the stories weave themselves together in a beautiful tapestry. High stakes propel the reader through the book and leave us with a handful of questions at the end of book one in this trilogy. Will the Heirophant and his followers succeed in removing magic? Will Hassan be able to save his kingdom? I can’t wait to see how this series resolves the vision foretelling the end of the world and which side the characters will find themselves on in that conflict. (Henry Holt, 2019)

Similar books of prophesy fulfillment: The Sword of Truth (series) by Terry Goodkind, Throne of Glass (series) by Sarah J. Maas

51oul60C3fL._SY346_4. The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington is not for the faint of heart. It has the best parts of high fantasy: magic systems, world building, leaders of a new world order, plot twists, monsters, and bloodthirsty despots. And if that wasn’t enough, there is time traveling, immortals with god-like abilities, powers lost and gained, hand to hand combat and epic battles, abandoned cities to explore with the best library of all time, and super tools. The story focuses mostly on Davian and his hero’s journey from humble beginnings to the opposite end of that spectrum. I rooted for him from the very first pages and read this entire trilogy of deep fantasy, and more than 2,000 pages, within just a few weeks.

Two separate forms of magic were impressive to watch in all their glory, and I was happy to learn every single detail about them. Hands down, my favorite part was the depiction of normal (and a few dreadful) people changing to become better people. Anyone is redeemable and able to do wonderful things. This multilayered story waits until the final chapter to make some pretty big reveals, and they are worth sticking around for.

Similarly epic fantasies: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson; The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

That’s my most recent book haul, and I really enjoyed all of them.

What new books (or new to you) have you read and enjoyed recently?

hannah smithHannah is OHP’s acquisitions editor and fearless reader of the flock. We love her insights about books of all genres, and we’re thrilled to share those with you in a monthly series: Books are Better than Chocolate (Don’t get mad. We still really like chocolate).

4 thoughts on “Better than Chocolate: My Latest Book Haul”

  1. I LOVE books that use setting as a character and Salt & Sorrow has been on my TBR list for a while now. I need to just read it already, lol.
    A book I read recently that does an AMAZING job incorporating an atmospheric setting is Erica Waters’ Ghost Wood Song, out this July.

    Definitely second you on Del Toro Moon! It took me right back to the horse stories of my childhood

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