Stacking the Shelves: 2/24/18

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

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Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

Harper Voyager was kind enough to send along a finished copy of this book, which I still have yet to read! It sounds really good, just have to find the time before March gets here.

The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso

This was a really exciting arrival – I read The Tethered Mage not too long ago and really enjoyed it. Now I don’t have to wait until April to read the sequel! Thanks Orbit!

84K by Claire North

I haven’t read as many Claire North books as I would like, but I was THRILLED when this showed up alongside The Defiant Heir. I mean, TWO packages on the same day containing awesome books??? Thanks to the awesome people at Orbit for the ARC!

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To Right the Wrongs by Sheryl Scarborough

I realllly enjoyed Sheryl Scarborough’s first book To Catch A Killer so I was thrilled to find out there would be a sequel. It’s a contemporary thriller, which is a nice change of pace from my usual reads. Thanks to Tor Teen for the finished copy.

Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Well, one of my newest favorite author’s is back again with another Maradaine novel. This time we’re back with the Rynax brothers and getting ready for a tough new break-in. Thanks to DAW for the finished copy.

Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker

I’ve heard SO many great reviews of this already so I was really happy to finally get my copy from Orbit and see what the deal is with this book! Much excite. Very read.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Murder mystery with a Groundhog Day twist. Sounds like my kind of weirdness. I would like to point out that the US title is different than the UK title which has been driving me absolutely mad. I thought I was crazy for just a bit there.

My Purchases:

Cover- Legend

Legend by David Gemmell

I decided to see why there would be Fantasy awards in honor of both the author and the book… I see why now. This book was AMAZING. I’ll have a review up shortly!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- Muse of Nightmares

ALL THE HEART EYES. I AM SOOOOO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK!!! Strange the Dreamer is quite possibly the best YA novel I’ve ever read – it was magical, beautiful, and heartbreaking and I have been in desperate need of closure ever since. Also, the synopsis for Muse of Nightmares has, if possible, made me even more impatient to get my hands on this book. This is scheduled to release October 2, 2018 so mark your calendars!

Currently Reading: 2/19/18

Cover- Lady Henterman's Wardrobe

Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe by Marshall Ryan Maresca

I was SOOOO happy when this finally showed up in my mailbox this week! I decided to start this one ASAP. Kind of messed up my TBR plans, but that’s okay if it means reading something you know is going to be awesome.

 

 

 

Cover- Blood of Assassins

Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker

I was a little late getting my audio copy of this, but now that I have it… well… obviously I’ll be listening to it every chance I get. Let’s see if Girton can keep things together as Maniyadoc devolves into war and assassination. I’m sure the body count in this book will be impressive.

A Time of Dread by John Gwynne – Review

Cover- A Time of Dread

Published: February 20, 2018

Publisher: Orbit Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Of Blood and Bone #1

Pages: 512 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The Ben-Elim, a fierce race of warrior-angels, burst into the Banished Lands over a hundred and thirty years ago. They were in pursuit of their eternal enemy, the Kadoshim demon-horde. On that day a great battle was fought, the Ben-Elim and Kadoshim joined by allies from the races of both men and giants, and a great victory was won.

Now much of the Banished Lands is ruled by the Ben-Elim, who have made this world their home, extending their influence and power as they swallow ancient kingdoms into the protective grasp of their ever-extending borders. But peace is fragile within the realm and the Kadoshim that remain are now amassing on the edges of the empire….

Threats long in the shadows are about to strike.


Once again John Gwynne has managed to capture the imagination and attention of his readers! If anything I may end up liking this series more than his first, though I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on why exactly. I think it’s a combination of things.  If you’re new to Gwynne’s work, I would like to point out that this series is new, but is a continuation of his The Faithful and the Fallen series. I definitely think it can be read and enjoyed without having read the preceding series, but those who’ve read those books also will probably get maximum enjoyment.

A Time of Dread is set over a hundred years after the events of The Faithful and the Fallen series detailing the battle between Corban the Bright Star and the Kadoshim and their dark lord Asroth. We have a largely new cast of characters, though some of the long-lived giants are familiar faces. The new characters are refreshing and they all seem to have really fantastic plot arcs thus far. As a matter of fact, each of the POVs is equally interesting to me which is kind of a rare occurrence! I don’t have strong favorite yet, but I’m definitely thinking that Drem and Riv are going to be really important, especially after the conclusion of this book! Man, that was a stunner!

If you’re looking for some good vs. evil that isn’t entirely clear-cut, plus an entirely satisfying amount action this might just be the book for you. There are bear attacks, twisted hybrid monsters, clearly evil bad guys, not so benevolent good guys, fisticuffs, and sword fights. What more could a girl ask for in a fantasy book? Not much. I think I actually like the plot better in this book – maybe it’s because I love beginnings, but I also like that the evil is already present and that the Ben-Elim aren’t turning out to be as good as they were once portrayed. They’re actually a controlling, big-brother ruling class who insist on imposing their rules on the world for the greater good. Things aren’t all cohesive amongst them though, as we come to find out… chaos makes for some interesting chapters.

A Time of Dread has managed a perfect balance of well-written new and old characters, an engaging plot, and a wonderfully apt title. This is set in a time when people are leaving their homes in hopes of gaining a semblance of freedom, there are unspeakable terrors happening on the very doorstep of those who seek to prevent them, and anyone may be an agent of the Kadoshim. I have high hopes for this series and am greatly looking forward to the sequel.

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins – Review

Cover- Daughters of the Storm

Published: March 6, 2018

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Blood and Gold #1

Pages: 448 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Five very different sisters team up against their stepbrother to save their kingdom in this Norse-flavored fantasy epic–the start of a new series in the tradition of Naomi Novik, Peter V. Brett, and Robin Hobb.

FIVE ROYAL SISTERS. ONE CROWN.

They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift–or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.


Daughters of the Storm was a book I’d never heard of prior to being contacted about reviewing it by the publisher. The synopsis was promising – I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of sisters united against an evil stepbrother who’s stolen the throne? Well, that’s technically what this story is about, but it wasn’t as thrilling as I had expected.

This book definitely has some action, but it’s really more of a family drama with swords and kingdoms. The eldest sister and heir to the throne, Bluebell, is fierce, battle hardened, and practical. I liked her quite a bit as she seemed to be the only sister that could keep her wits about her at all times and not be an idiot. Ash was also likable and much less irritating than the others. She’s also a powerful, untrained undermagician who can control the elements. The other sisters are a riot of bad decisions. Rose is wife to the King of a neighboring kingdom and ally, but… let’s just say she thinks with her loins and not her brain. She’s had an affair with the nephew of the king, putting the alliance at risk if it were ever found out and she just can’t make that mistake once. She was definitely my least favorite of the sisters because she’s a prime example of someone who makes selfish decisions and then tries to justify them as love. The twins Ivy and Willow each have their own flaws. Ivy’s a teenage hoe who thinks she’s far smarter and more desirable than she really is. Willow has turned to an unwelcome religion that is contrary to the beliefs of her kinsman, but her biggest flaw is naivety. Their stepbrother is pretty bad, mostly for killing one particular character, but he didn’t seem particularly evil. He just wanted to protect his mother and he wasn’t well loved by his stepsisters.

The whole plot of the story is that their father is dying and the sisters suspect foul play (they’re right) and they need to find someone who can heal him. They sneak off with him so perhaps he can shake the magical enchantment that’s made him fall into unconsciousness and so he’ll be in their safe keeping. The stepbrother knows who did and he’s trying to kill Bluebell before she finds out and kills him. It’s not actually a large scale drama, which I was appreciative of as there are too many “save the entire world” stories out there.

Overall, this book was okay. I didn’t love and it took me a really long time to read it because I just wasn’t super into the storyline or the characters. 3 out of the 5 sisters were irritating and I just didn’t love any of the characters enough to really care about what happened to them. I think I’ll probably hold off on reading future books in this series until I see some redeeming reviews for the sequel.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – Review

Cover- The Cruel Prince

Published: January 2, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: The Folk of the Air #1

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.


The Cruel Prince is one of those books that I’ve been looking forward to since its announcement and as such I had high expectations. It has an awesome cover and synopsis, plus I loved Holly Black’s A Modern Faerietale series that came out back in 2002. This didn’t end up being as mind blowingly awesome as I had hoped, but it was good nonetheless for several reasons.

There were quite a few things I really liked about this book. First of all, Holly Black writes a faerie story that isn’t roses and sunshine – it’s darker and the faeries are cruel, cunning immortals. I don’t want faeries that are kind because in the original tales they weren’t. They were terrifying and would steal your children, spoil your milk, and perhaps even trick you into Faerie and make you dance until you died of exhaustion… Another aspect of The Cruel Prince that I like was how the characters were strong, or at least dealing with their issues all in different ways. Jude is traditionally strong at first glance – she has the heart and talents of a warrior, but as you get to know her, you realize she’s constantly afraid because she’s an outsider in a land that wants to kill her. Her sister Taryn is equally strong but is playing her cards differently – she’s fitting herself into faerie society and trying to find a fae husband to secure her place. Even cruel Cardan is strong in a subtler way than the fact that he’s the prince. This book is about more than the obvious power of a blade or a crown. I also liked that there wasn’t a terrible love triangle or predictable romance. Too many books suffer from that tragedy of plot and The Cruel Prince was not one of them.

There were also a few things that kept me from loving this book from the start. The biggest was that it was so slow to build up to the actual meat of the plot. Far too many pages were spent with Jude and Cardan engaging in classroom bullying x10. I considered DNF’ing it during the early stages but didn’t have anything better to listen to so I stuck it out. I’m glad I did because about halfway through the book things started to get much, much better and by the end I was pretty well hooked. It also took me most of the book to begin to like Jude which is kind of bad because she’s the main character. She just so intentionally contrary and she’s obviously going out of her way to cause more trouble amongst her peers. It was frustrating but fortunately she gets better toward the end.

I’m extremely excited to read the next book despite my initial lukewarm feelings towards The Cruel Prince. I have to say, having also read the A Modern Faerie Tale series, I fangirled just a bit when Kaye and Roiben showed up at the coronation feast. Not gonna lie, it was pretty exciting to find out that both series are set in the same world. All in all, this was a good book and my less than stellar opinion of it is in the minority, so if it sounds awesome to you then check it out!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Light of All That Falls by James Islington

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Light of All That Falls

At last, there is a synopsis for The Light of All That Falls, and you know what that means… IT GET’S FEATURED AS A WAITING ON WEDNESDAY POST!!! I’ve really enjoyed both of Islington’s previous books and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the finale of this epic trilogy will live up to and perhaps exceed all my hopes and dreams. This series is great for fans of The Wheel of Time, so if you liked those books definitely give this series a try. This installment is showing August 2018 on Goodreads, but after checking out the latest update on the author’s website it looks like it may not be released until February 2019. DARN THAT’S A LONG WAIT.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown – Review

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Published: January 16, 2018

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Red Rising Saga #4

Pages: 600 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Goldis the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.


“And tongues, loose from those same commercial spirits and delights, cry out, shouting my name, or cursing it. Not the name my mother gave me, but the name my deeds have built. The name the fallen Peerless Scarred now whisper as a curse. “Reaper, Reaper, Reaper,” they cry, not in unison, but in frenzy. The clamor suffocates, squeezing with a billion-fingered hand: all the hopes, all the dreams, all the pain constricting around me.”
― Pierce BrownIron Gold

This is the book I needed in my life. I SO needed more Darrow, more Sevro, more Virginia, and I NEEDED to know what happened after the end of Morningstar. My gushing doesn’t mean this book was perfect, but it was supremely satisfying, fairly traumatizing, and it ended on kind of a cliffhanger. Good thing the next book, Dark Age, will be out in September 2018. *YAY*

First of all, I listened to the audio version of this and it was fantastic! There are different narrators for each of the four POV’s and as usual, Tim Gerard Reynolds is reading Darrow’s chapters. Each narrator sounds very different so you’ll have no trouble keeping characters straight. I would mention that it took me a little while to get used to Lyria’s chapters because the accent is a bit heavy.

I really loved the broad spectrum of characters we have here – just the main 4 POVs include Darrow, Lysander (an exiled Gold), Lyria (a Red), and Ephraim (a Grey). They each lead very different lives and Pierce Brown makes you feel so much for each of them despite their flaws and shortcoming. In no way does he paint them as the image of perfection, especially Darrow who’s basically this warmonger that neglects his family for the “good of all”. There was this really great scene where he and Sevro argue and Sevro calls him out on being in love with his own heroic image and that’s why he can’t hand off the title of Arch Imperator or think of peace. He’d rather die in an iron rain than go quietly into the void. Darrow is now a relic from an age gone by – a warlord in a time of democracy. I do wonder if Pierce Brown will continue with the historical theme of Rome and bring down the Republic with the rise of a new empire.

Lysander’s chapters were some of my favorites to get to, especially since that meant we get to see what our ol’ buddy Cassius au Bellona is up to in his exile. Cassius has been raising Lysander to be a competent swordsman and generally decent human being, but Lysander still retains the teachings of his grandmother, the Sovereign Octavia au Lune – who Cassius helped to murder. I won’t give away much, but Lysander meets the Moon Lords and things get interesting. Ephraim was also pretty interesting, as he is a former member of the Sons of Ares turned thief of luxury items, heirlooms, and historically significant artifacts. He’s got a skilled team, a chip on his shoulder, and a job unlike any he’d done before at the behest of some very powerful, very influential people. Lyria’s story was emotionally moving, but it took me a long time to warm up to her character. She’s so full of rage, and it’s pretty justifiable, but she also gives the impression that she thinks the government should think of her as an individual and cater to her needs, which simply isn’t logical. She’s very passionate, very alone, and very naïve as to who the world works because she’s been in the mines of Mars for almost her entire life. I warmed up to her as the story progressed and I think she evolved SO much during this first book. Darrow’s chapters are harrowing and stressful and sometimes I’d love to slap some sense into him. He’s a majestic and powerful idiot sometimes. See my previous paragraph spiel.

I was a little disappointed at Virginia’s role here. She seemed so distant and untouchable, even during Darrow’s chapters and she’s lost much of the power she radiated in books 1-3. She was an embodiment of her role as Sovereign in this book rather than carrying the presence that she did before. I hope in the next installment she’ll regain her former awesomeness and become once again a warrior-queen instead of a politician.

Overall, this was a stellar book and I loved it for so many reasons. It was a delight to see how the characters have changed and embraced (or not) their new roles as parents, founders of the Republic, and even renegade do-gooders. I can’t begin to describe how happy I am that Dark Age will be released later this year so I won’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next! Also, I need more Howler merch to represent my love for this series. Like a coffee mug or something, but I haven’t found any designs that I LOVE. If you have recommendations for Howler merch, send them my way. I know Illumicrate has an awesome box containing Iron Gold and some awesome gear for sale so I may check that out!

The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills by Patrick Rogers – Review

Cover- Into the Green Unknown

Published: September 18, 2017

Publisher: Westland

Genre: Travel

Series: Stand alone

Pages: 140 (Kindle)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The Green Unknown is about walking, without a map or a plan, across the Khasi Hills in the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya—a place of jungle canyons and thousand-foot waterfalls, where it rains more than any other inhabited place in the world, where each village has its own dialect or even its own language, and where the people grow living bridges from the roots of trees. The book is an attempt to express what it’s like trying to explore, mile by mile, village by village, valley by valley, a place that’s beautiful, complex, and fascinating, but most of all, unique.


So obviously this isn’t what I usually review here on Powder & Page, but sometimes an opportunity comes along and you just have to take it. I was contacted by Patrick Rogers about reviewing his latest book, The Green Unknown. This is a travelogue style book recounting the author’s travels in the north-eastern Indian province of Meghalaya, which is one of the wettest places in the world. I honestly knew nothing of this place when I went into it aside from a few basics acquired from a quick Google.

This was incredibly interesting and educational and I thought the author’s writing was engaging – so much so that I actually read this book in a single lazy Sunday afternoon. The Green Unknown doesn’t go into overwhelming detail about any of the topics within, but rather gives an engaging overview of many aspects of life in Meghalaya. The whole book is basically the author relaying his experiences – good, bad, and even a bit scary – while weaving in information. For me, this makes it easier to remember the facts because I have a story to associate with them. I enjoy this type of non-fiction and this book has made me realize that I should make an effort to read books like this more often.

If you’re interested in learning about new places or are fond of travelogues, I’d definitely recommend this book! If nothing else, at least check out the living root bridges the region is famous for – I could easily see these being used in a fantasy novel and it would be fantastic (and quite an undertaking) to see them in person.