Hello, hello! And Happy Christmas Eve for those that celebrate. It’s time for my last ‘favourite reads of the year’ post and this one features my top ten series starters/sequels. 2022 was definitely the year of the absolutely incredible sequel, as well as the start of a few new series I know I’m gonna love, so this was one of the harder posts to narrow down. The below books blew me away and, as with my debuts & standalone’s post’s, I have included a snippet from my review, the book synopsis, as well as a link to my full review (just click on the book cover.)
Castles in Their Bones
“Don’t be deceived by the pretty Princess on the cover of this book, the contents are decidedly darker. With our three POV’s being exceedingly morally grey, as well as some characters who pop up who are just straight evil, it’s hard to know who you can really trust when reading. Sebastian sure knows how to keep her readers on their toes and her use of plot twists ensures that we never know which way the story is going to go until it happens. “
Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.
Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.
The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.
Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?
A Mirror Mended
“This is a series that completely makes you examine what you know about fairy tales. Harrow makes me wish I had studied something similar to Zinnia at University, but through her stories we get to examine the patriarchal bias behind these stories, showing us that in the tales we read growing up, the villain wasn’t always who we thought it was. But as well as this, Harrow writes her stories and her characters with a modern and extremely sarcastic wit. Zinnia’s sarcasm is off the charts in places, and I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud at something she said”
Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?
The Oleander Sword
“Tasha Suri has clearly never heard of second book syndrome! The Jasmine Throne was a slow starter, Suri took her time building her world, the lore, the characters and I loved it so much, but thanks to the majority of that work being done in book one, The Oleander Sword moves at a much faster pace. There are still slow scenes, still plenty of lore and world building for those who love it, but the thing I loved most about this book was reading the battle scenes. Suri has this way of writing fight scenes that almost drag you into her story, make you feel like you’re experiencing it right alongside her characters.”
The prophecy of the nameless god—the words that declared Malini the rightful empress of Parijatdvipa—has proven a blessing and curse. She is determined to claim the throne that fate offered her. But even with the strength of the rage in her heart and the army of loyal men by her side, deposing her brother is going to be a brutal and bloody fight.
The power of the deathless waters flows through Priya’s blood. Thrice born priestess, Elder of Ahiranya, Priya’s dream is to see her country rid of the rot that plagues it: both Parijatdvipa’s poisonous rule, and the blooming sickness that is slowly spreading through all living things. But she doesn’t yet understand the truth of the magic she carries.
Their chosen paths once pulled them apart. But Malini and Priya’s souls remain as entwined as their destinies. And they soon realise that coming together is the only way to save their kingdom from those who would rather see it burn—even if it will cost them.
” It’s creepy in parts, not all of the spirits are helpful or friendly. It’s got big Gothic vibes with a family shrouded in secrets and a manor haunted by spirits & Grace’s writing style certainly helps bring this atmosphere to life. There’s a multitude of plot twists, some I got right off the bat and others that slowly un-winded throughout the story, but they were all perfectly executed and added an extra amount of tension and drama to the plot.”
For as long as Signa Farrow has been alive, the people in her life have fallen like stars…
Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being – and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy.
Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realises that the family she depends on could be in grave danger, and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.
Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer, though, is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful – and more irresistible – than she ever dared imagine.
The Atlas Paradox
There was a sinister undercurrent running through this story that, despite the overhanging death, was missing from the first book. In the Atlas Six… But with the Atlas Paradox, Blake seemed to take the underlying tension and drama from the first book and just tripled it. Was it because we never quite knew what was going to happen? Where the story was truly going? I’m not sure, but I do feel like having the big reveals kept secret ensured that I felt more engrossed in the story, cared a little more for the characters and found myself significantly more invested than I was in the first book.”
Six magicians. Two rivalries. One researcher. And a man who can walk through dreams. All must pick a side: do they wish to preserve the world—or destroy it? In this electric sequel to the viral sensation, The Atlas Six, the society of Alexandrians is revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way. But the cost of knowledge is steep, and as the price of power demands each character choose a side, which alliances will hold and which will see their enmity deepen?
” I’m always amazed when an author can put that much detail into book one… lets be honest, it was a chunk, and yet still manage to build on it and surprise us with new bits of information in the second book. I think it’s safe to say that Deonn has never heard of second book syndrome because there was no part of this book where the story lagged, the pace slowed down, it meandered. Instead the story takes off from the first page and the pace never really lets off. There are plenty of plot twists to keep us glued to the pages, as well as making us wonder who we can really trust, and if there is one thing Deonn writes spectacularly well, it’s fight scenes.”
The shadows have risen, and the line is law.
All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:
A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.
But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.
Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.
When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.
If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.
A Restless Truth
“If you’re looking for a regency story that gives off big knives out vibes, brings all the drama and frolicking entertainment whilst giving you plenty of the more steamy scenes… well then look no further. Marske manages to make being stuck on a cruise ship (my worst nightmare) with murderers, magicians and people pretending to be something their not seem fun, as well as down right hilarious in parts. It’s tongue in cheek, as well as tongue in other places that are sure to make you blush and she makes it incredibly easy for your to devour the story”
The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.
What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.
A Cruel and Fated Light
“If there is one thing Shuttleworth does spectacularly well, it’s writing characters. The main players in this book vary in age but Shuttleworth nails every single one. We get most of the same POV’s from book one: Arlo, Nausicaa, Vehan and Aurelian, but this book also gives us Cel’s POV and I was SO EXCITED because he was my favourite character in the first book.”
After thwarting the man behind the gruesome ironborn murders—and breaking several fae laws to do so—all Arlo wants is a quiet summer. As the deity of luck’s Hollow Star, capable of bringing about endless possibilities, this shouldn’t be too much to ask, right?
But someone is still trying to summon the mythical Seven Deadly Sins. All signs point to immortal meddling, and if this is the gods’ attempt at returning to the Mortal Realm, it’s Arlo they’re going to use to do it.
When Queen Riadne offers to host Arlo at the Seelie Summer palace, she jumps at the chance. She’ll get to see more of Vehan and Aurelian and perhaps even work out her complicated feelings for the gorgeous ex-Fury, Nausicaä. But no one trusts the infamous Queen of Light, even as Arlo wonders if she’s just been greatly misunderstood.
With the Summer Solstice quickly approaching, everyone expects Riadne to finally challenge the High King for his crown. And as Arlo struggles to get control of her powers and take charge of her destiny, she’ll soon be faced with a choice that won’t only change the fate of the Mortal Realm forever but could condemn it to a cruelty the likes of which the Courts have never known.
For the Throne
“If there’s one thing I love about these books it’s Whitten’s writing style, it’s delicious and enticing and just effortlessly drags you into the story. She manages to make you feel the bleakness of the Shadowlands, the magic of the Wilderwood through her descriptive writing, while also using it to give us further insight into our two main characters. Her use of foreshadowing and plot twists was so beautifully done and she manages to write a book that is both something you want to savour and something you find impossible to put down.”
Red and the Wolf have finally contained the threat of the Old Kings but at a steep cost. Red’s beloved sister Neve, the First Daughter is lost in the Shadowlands, an inverted kingdom where the vicious gods of legend have been trapped for centuries and the Old Kings have slowly been gaining control. But Neve has an ally–though it’s one she’d rather never have to speak to again–the rogue king Solmir.
Solmir wants to bring an end to the Shadowlands and he believes helping Neve may be the key to its destruction. But to do that, they will both have to journey across a dangerous landscape in order to find a mysterious Heart Tree, and finally to claim the gods’ dark, twisted powers for themselves.
The Fires of Vengeance
“While book one took a bit of time to get going, this story started at a sprint and never once let up the pace. It’s a story that you want to savour, but also one you want to fly through, especially because every single chapter seems to end on some kind of plot point or cliff hanger…Winters writing style, while sparse in detail, definitely packs an emotional and atmospheric punch in places. There are no lengthy descriptions of places or people, no flowery prose or lyrical writing. Instead his writing style is blunt, aggressive and no word, line, paragraph is superfluous, they all play their part in the furthering of his story and I found it so refreshing to read.”
Desperate to delay an impending attack by the indigenous people of Xidda, Tau and his queen craft a dangerous plan. If Tau succeeds, the queen will have the time she needs to assemble her forces and launch an all-out assault on her own capital city, where her sister is being propped up as the ‘true’ Queen of the Omehi.
If the city can be taken, if Tsiora can reclaim her throne and reunite her people, then the Omehi might have a chance to survive the coming onslaught.
This has a set of really fun looking books that I’ve not gotten to yet, I just added Belladonna to my TBR!
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Yay! I loved that one so much, so I hope you enjoy it 😊
Great list! I loved Belladonna as well and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book 😍 I also just recently added Castles in their Bones to my physical shelf so I’m excited to see it on this list. I can’t wait to read it!
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Thank, Dini! I can’t wait for the sequel of Belladonna & looking forward to seeing what you think of Castles in Their Bones (although I think you will love it) 😀