Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I usually struggle to keep these most anticipated lists to just ten books, but this time round it seems a lot of titles I can’t wait for aren’t out until next year. Such sorrow! I’m sure as soon as I start blog-hopping I’ll discover a bunch of super obvious titles that I’ve missed.

The last post of this kind also included some books that got pushed to the second half of the year, at least in the UK: Not for the Faint of Heart, The Dead Cat Tail Assassins, and Mirrored Heavens, so I haven’t included them again.

For the sake of disclosure, titles marked with * are review copies provided by the publisher.

 

the vengeance

The Vengeance by Emma Newman

I love Emma’s other books, so I’m so happy to see a new book from her. This is set in the world of Alexandre Dumas, but my knowledge of his work starts and ends with Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, so I’m not sure if this is a retelling or just inspired by. It does have pirates though!

Goodreads | StoryGraph

Morgane grew up at sea, daughter of the fierce pirate captain of the Vengeance, raised to follow in her footsteps as scourge of the Four Chains Trading Company. But when Anna-Marie is mortally wounded in battle, she confesses to Morgane that she is not her mother.

The captain of the enemy ship reveals he was paid to kill Anna-Marie and bring Morgane home to France and her real family. Desperate to learn the truth about her lineage, Morgane spares him, leaving the Vengeance and everything she knows behind.

Her quest reveals a world of decadence and darkness, in which monsters vie for control of royal courts and destinies of nations. She discovers the bloody secrets of the Four Chains Trading Company, and the truth about her real mother’s death, nearly twenty years before…

 

a sorceress comes to call

A Sorceress Comes to Call by T. Kingfisher

I’m always interested in a new book from T. Kingfisher.

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Cordelia knows her mother is unusual. Their house doesn’t have any doors between rooms―there are no secrets in this house!―Cordelia isn’t allowed to have a single friend. Unless you count Falada, her mother’s beautiful white horse. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is on her daily rides with him.

But more than a few quirks set her mother apart. Other parents can’t force their daughters to be silent and motionless―obedient―for hours or days on end. Other mothers aren’t . . . sorcerers.

 

a rose by any other name

A Rose by Any Other Name by Mary McMyne

When I first saw the title, I assumed this was another Romeo and Juliet retelling, but the blurb suggests it’s about someone in Shakespeare’s life, but with magic. I loved The Book of Gothel, so I’m excited to see if her second novel is just as good.

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England, 1591. Rose Rushe’s passion for life runs deep-she loves mead and music, meddles with astrology, and laughs at her mother’s warnings to guard her reputation. When Rose’s father dies and a noble accuses her and her dear friend Cecely of witchcraft, they flee to the household of respected alchemists in London.

But as their bond deepens, their sanctuary begins to feel more like a cage. To escape, they turn to the occult, secretly casting charms and selling astrological advice in the hopes of building a life together. This thriving underground business leads Rose to fair young noble Henry and playwright Will Shakespeare, and so begins a brief, tempestuous, and powerful romance-one filled with secret longings and deep betrayals.

In this world of dazzling masques and decadent feasts, where the stars decide futures, Rose will write her own fate instead.

 

apprentice to the villain

Apprentice to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Assistant to the Villain was loads of fun, and the way it ended means I can’t not grab the second book the moment it comes out.

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NOTICE TO STAFF: There has been a disturbing increase in cheeriness, sprightly behaviour and overall optimism of late. Please resume your former dark, ominous terrors at your earliest convenience. ―Mgmt

Evie Sage has never been happier to be the assistant to The Villain. Who would have thought that working for an outrageously handsome (shhh, bad for his brand) evil overlord would be so rewarding? Still, the business of being bad is demanding, the forces of good are annoyingly persistent, and said forbidding boss is somewhat…er, out-of-evil-office.

But Rennedawn is in grave trouble, and all signs – Kingsley’s included – point to catastrophe. Something peculiar is happening with the kingdom’s magic, and it’s made The Villain’s manor vulnerable to their enemies … including their nemesis, the king.

Now it’s time for Evie to face her greatest challenge: protecting The Villain’s lair, all of his nefarious works, and maybe (provided no one finds out) the entire kingdom. No pressure, Evie.
It’s time to step out of her comfort zone and learn new skills. Like treason. Dagger work. Conspiring with the enemy. It’s all so…so…delightfully fun.

But what happens when the assistant to The Villain is ready to become his apprentice?

 

the legacy of arniston house

The Legacy of Arniston House by T.L. Huchu

The fourth instalment in the Edinburgh Nights series. I always enjoy listening to Ropa on audio.

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Ropa Moyo is a wannabe magician, can speak to the dead, and has officially given up being an intern. Leaving Scottish magic behind, she now works for the English Sorcerer Royal. But just as she adjusts to working for the English, an old enemy reveals a devastating secret about her Gran, and Ropa’s world falls apart.

Outraged, she rushes home, but finds her grandmother dead – murdered – with no killer in sight. What’s more, she’s the prime suspect. In her quest to find the true murderer, Ropa becomes caught in the dark tendrils of a cult, hell-bent on resurrecting an ancient power. Ropa must use her wits, her magic, and call in all favours to stop the ritual – and clear her name.

 

we are all ghosts in the forest

We Are All Ghosts in the Forest by Lorraine Wilson

This sounds like a unique concept. Some days I feel like the internet is on the brink of collapsing too…

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When the internet collapsed, it took the world with it, leaving its digital ghosts behind – and they are hungry. Former photojournalist Katerina fled the overrun cities to the relative safety of her grandmother’s village on the edge of a forest, where she lives a solitary life of herbal medicine and beekeeping.

When a wordless boy finds her in the marketplace with nothing but her name in his pocket, her curiosity won’t allow her to turn him away. But haunting his arrival are rumours of harvest failure and a rampant digital disease stirring up the ghosts, and the mood in the village starts to sour.

Accused of witchcraft, Katerina and Stefan escape into the forest, searching for his missing father and the truth behind the disease. If there is a cure, Katerina alone might find it, but first she must find the courage to trust others – because the ghosts that follow her aren’t just digital.

 

key lime sky

Key Lime Sky by Al Hess*

Even if I hadn’t read the adorable World Running Down, my attention would have been caught by a pie-loving blogger trying to save a small town from aliens.

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Denver Bryant’s passion for pie has sent him across Wyoming in search of the best slices. Though he dutifully posts reviews on his blog, he’s never been able to recreate his brief moment of viral popularity, and its trickling income isn’t enough to pay his rent next month.

Driving home from a roadside diner, Denver witnesses a UFO explode directly over his tiny town of Muddy Gap. When he questions his neighbors, it appears that Denver is the only person to have seen anything – or to care that the residents’ strange behavior, as well as a shower of seashell hail, might be evidence of something extraterrestrial. Being both non-binary and autistic, he’s convinced his reputation as the town eccentric is impeding his quest for answers. Frustrated, he documents the bizarre incidents on his failing pie blog, and his online popularity skyrockets. His readers want the truth, spurring him to get to the bottom of things.

The only person in town who takes him seriously is handsome bartender, Ezra. As the two investigate over pie and the possibility of romance, the alien presence does more than change the weather. People start disappearing. When Denver and Ezra make a run for it, the town refuses to let them leave. Reality is folding in on itself. It’s suddenly a race against time to find the extraterrestrial source and destroy it before it consumes not only Muddy Gap but everything beyond. Denver’s always been more outsider than hero, but he’s determined to ensure that a world with Ezra – and with pie – still exists tomorrow.

 

best hex ever

Best Hex Ever by Nadia El-Fassi

Nadia is a commissioning editor for Orbit, so I’ve no doubt read loads of books she’s worked on. This is apparently both cosy and spicy. Bring on all the cosy mash-ups.

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Dina Whitlock knows her way around a pastry recipe. As a skilled kitchen witch, she runs her very own London café, serving magic-infused pastries to her loyal customers. But only a select few friends know about her magical abilities or the hex that has plagued her love life. It’s hard to fall in love when your partner is guaranteed to have a string of bad luck.

Scott Mason is back from traveling the world and is excited to begin his new job as a curator at the British Museum. After leaving London to heal from a brutal breakup two years ago, Scott only now realizes how much he missed out on. Now that his best friend’s wedding is right around the corner, Scott is determined to be the most amazing best man ever, but he doesn’t expect to be bewitched by the maid of honour, who also happens to be the owner of his new favourite café and, perhaps more surprisingly, a witch.

After a weekend in the countryside full of peculiar hedge mazes, palm readings by candlelight, and a midnight Halloween ritual, there’s no denying the chemistry between them. But there’s just one problem: The hex still holds, and Dina knows that Scott is in danger.

Can Dina break the spell before it breaks both their hearts?

 

the blonde dies first

The Blonde Dies First by Joelle Wellington

I enjoyed Their Vicious Games, and I tend to enjoy books that explore horror movie tropes.

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Devon Harris doesn’t have much planned for the summer – until her sister, Drew, invites Devon to a very exclusive private school party.

Out of her element, Devon commits to being game at everything. Even when the private school kids ask her if there are fights at her school. Even when they ask her if her box braids are her real hair. Even when those weird ass kids pull out a Ouija board.

But this seemingly harmless bit of fun has terrible consequences. Something has been released, and only a week later it’s hunting Devon, Drew and their friends. Hunting them in an eerily familiar way . . .

The real-life horror movie has begun. The blonde is up first, then the asshole – right up to the Final Girl. Unless the murderous cycle can be broken, they’re all going to be next.

 

a cheesemongers' tour de france

A Cheesemonger’s Tour de France by Ned Palmer

Ned’s book on the history of British cheese was fascinating. This time he takes on France’s cheeses.

Goodreads | StoryGraph

Charles de Gaulle famously said it was impossible to govern a country with 246 different cheeses. And perhaps he was right. Every French cheese carries an essence of the place where it’s made – its history, identity and landscape. Sometimes that’s a physical thing, as the hard texture of Comté echoes its mountainous home in the Jura. Other times it’s about power and politics – Brie swelling to royal dimensions due to its proximity to the French court, or Camembert gaining national status after being supplied in patriotic boxes to First World War soldiers.

In A Cheesemonger’s Tour de France, Ned Palmer wends his way around the country’s regions, meeting the remarkable cheesemongers who carry the torch for France’s oldest and most treasured traditions. As he explains the mysteries of terroir and why each of those different fromages taste as they do, he shows that a French cheeseboard offers genuine insights into la Belle République.