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January Release Roundup

Each month, I do a roundup of the releases that were enticing enough to catch my interest. Then I sample them – reading the length of the ebook free sample – to decide whether to read the full book. On this list you will find standalones or first in new series; continuing series get caught in a different net. All titles are available now.

January Releases
January Sample Roundup and Review

Seven January releases made it into the Sample Round. Three will make the cut.

Marked by Sarah FineMarked, by Sarah Fine
Series: Servants of Fate #1
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Why I’m interested: Greek myth, blend of urban fantasy and dystopia
Goodreads average: 3.82

Blurb: In a dystopian Boston, paramedic Cacia risks her life every day to save lives. But not even her sexy partner Eli knows about her other job. She’s a Ferry, who takes those marked by Fate to their eternal reward, whether that means bliss or damnation. Just as her relationship with Eli heats up, Charon is targeted for assassination and her clan falls into chaos. But Eli has secrets of his own.

My Verdict: No thank you
I like the way mythology is worked into this modern/future world so far, and the dystopian side could be interesting. But pedestrian prose had me skimming, and the characters didn’t grab me. The writing isn’t strong enough to sell the intriguing concept.

Wildalone by Krassi ZourkovaWildalone, by Krassi Zourkova
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy romance
Why I’m interested: Eastern European folklore + Greek mythology
Goodreads average: 3.66

Blurb: A college freshman is drawn into a love triangle with two mysterious brothers, and discovers dark secrets about herself and her family in the shadow world that seems to mimic the Bulgarian legends of the samodivi or wildalones: forest witches who beguile and entrap men.

My Verdict: Probably not
I liked the gothic folklore feel. The lead character had her own interests and perspectives, but seemed suddenly flat and brainless when the first boy was introduced. I doubt a second love interest will improve things. But maybe when I’m in the mood for fast and fluffy.

Gideon by Alex GordonGideon, by Alex Gordon
Series: Standalone
Genre: Supernatural thriller
Why I’m interested: Fast paced fantasy with horror elements
Goodreads average: 4.00

Blurb: When Lauren’s father dies, she discovers he once was someone else. She has only a handful of clues: a photograph, some letters, and the name of a town – Gideon. But a strange man is stalking her, and something doesn’t want her to uncover the truth. In Gideon, a witch was burned at the stake two hundred years ago, but the past feels all too present.

My Verdict: Yes please
Alex Gordon writes a strong scene, with vivid descriptions, sharp dialogue, and suspenseful timing. I haven’t even gotten to the modern day section, but the creepy town and dark magic have hooked me.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Why I’m interested: Creepy fairy tale by liked author
Goodreads average: 4.03

Blurb: Hazel and her brother, Ben, live in a town where human and Fae coexist. But Hazel knows how dangerous the fae are, and she knows how to stop them. When the boy with the horns on his head awakes, will her childhood memories be enough

My Verdict: Yes please
My most enthusiastic yes for this sample session. A sibling relationship front and center, a female lead with spunk and a refreshing attitude towards boys, and a changeling raised as twin to the boy he was supposed to replace after their human mom outsmarted the fae. Plus, I loved the dead casual way her brother’s homosexuality was established, and have liked Holly Black’s treatment of GLBTQ characters in other stories. A new Black story would likely have stayed on my to-read list anyway, but the sample makes it a priority read.
Read the review of the full book!

The Just City by Jo WaltonThe Just City, by Jo Walton
Series: Thessaly #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Why I’m interested: Greek history geekiness in a scifi utopia
Goodreads average: 4.09

Blurb: The Just City is a utopia planned by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene. Apollo lives among its human inhabitants, disguised and without powers. But what happens when Sokrates (yes, that one) shows up and starts asking troublesome questions?

My Verdict: Yes please
Jo Walton is hit or miss for me. She’s more intellectual and literary than I prefer, but always worth a look to see if a particular title hits the sweet spot. As a Classics geek, I had high hopes for Just City, and it looks likely to satisfy.

The Deep by Nick CutterThe Deep, by Nick Cutter
Series: Standalone
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
Why I’m interested: The Abyss + The Shining?
Goodreads average: 3.65

Blurb: A strange plague is sweeping the globe: forgetfulness. It starts small, with misplaced keys, but progresses to lost motor and language skills, until the body forgets how to regulate itself. Deep beneath the ocean, scientists may have found a cure. Or they may have unlocked an evil darker than they could have imagined.

My Verdict: No thank you
The prose felt disjointed and, at times, confusing. Six chapters in, I felt neither unsettled nor engaged, but only mildly irritated. When it went into flashbacks without having made me care about the character first, I gave up.

When by Victoria LaurieWhen, by Victoria Laurie
Series: Standalone
Genre: Paranormal mystery
Why I’m interested: interesting concept, but mixed reviews
Goodreads average: 4.05

Blurb: Maddie Fynn sees a number above everyone’s head: the date of their death. When she tries to warn the family of a young boy, she ends up a suspect in his disappearance. Under investigation, with the killer on her trail, can she set things right in time?

My Verdict: maybe
Nothing about the writing bothered me and the character and situation seem interesting, so When stays on the to-read eventually list. But it didn’t quite hook me either. If I come across it when I’m between books, I may pick it up for a fast read. Or I may not.

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