To Kill a Kingdom is a fantasy standalone done right. Even better, it is so much more than I had envisioned!
A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows is much more intense than A Darker Shade of Magic. Schwab has a way of putting words to a page that is incomparable to other authors. The wit that underpins her snarky characters is first class, and Lila is a prime example. What makes it so great is that Lila doesn’t try hard — it’s who she is. A Gathering of Shadows increased my love for her, Kell, and Rhy manifolds, and also sucked me right into the spheres of Alucard and Tieren.
THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig
Time travel in books is my weakness. I used to actively seek them out as a kid. Nowadays reading about such stories feels like visiting old friends. Sadly, The Girl from Everywhere didn’t quite have enough of it. The setting of The Girl from Everywhere was predominantly Honolulu 1884. There were glimpses of India, New York and China from various eras but not a lot happened in these places. Being stuck in Hawaii for so long gave rise to a slower moving plot than I had anticipated.