Stacking the Shelves: 2/3/18

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!


Once again, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these, which is a shame, since they’re one of my favorite blog posts to both share and read!

Received for Review:

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A Time of Dread by John Gwynne

At long last, it’s arriving in the US! I’m looking forward to seeing how Gwynne’s newest series will take shape and how things have changed in the century since The Faithful and the Fallen series occurred. Thanks to Orbit for the finished copy.

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

Eek!! I’m really looking forward to this one, just to see what Tea does with her powers. She seems to be looking for revenge and it just might be awesome. I actually ended up with two copies of this book so there may be a giveaway for one in the near future! Thanks to Sourcebooks for the ARC!

Verdict on Crimson Fields by M.C. Planck

This was a surprise arrival from Pyr – I didn’t even know this series was on book 4 already! Sadly, I’m a couple books behind, so I don’t think I’ll be reading this one for awhile but the synopsis is pretty awesome.

Into the Green Unknown by Patrick Rogers

This was one of those rare books that I accept a copy from directly from the author AND it’s totally outside my usual genre. I’m really glad I got this one from Patrick Rogers because it was such a cool intro to a region of India I was wholly unfamiliar with! I’ll have a review up for this soon, so stay tuned.

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

Another SPFBO book is going big-time! I dearly hope they don’t change the cover for this because the original is on point. Can’t wait to dig into this one! Thanks to NetGalley and Crown for the eGalley.

The Fairies of Sadieville by Alex Bledsoe

I’ll be honest, I read the synopsis and hit the Request button. Fairies in Appalachia. Count me in, since ya know, I’m from that region and all. I hope it’s magical and strange and worthy of the Rothfuss blurb on the front. And I hope it can be read as a standalone because I goofed and didn’t realize it’s part of a series. Thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the eGalley.

Purchased Books:

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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

I picked up the hardcover of this one because it’s BEAUTIFUL and less than $8.00 right now on Amazon.

The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter by Michael J. Sullivan

I snagged a copy of this in early December but it took until early January to finally show up on my doorstep so here it is! I love MJS’s books and I hope this will be no different. Definitely can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for Royce and Hadrian. Also, it’s signed which is cool.

And last but certainly not least, my monthly audiobook haul. I love Audible. It affords me so much opportunity to check out books I otherwise wouldn’t have the time to sit down and read a physical copy. This month I picked up Blackwing which I’ve already reviewed as well as Iron Gold and The Cruel Prince which will have reviews forthcoming!

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Waiting on Wednesday: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

“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- A Court of Frost and Starlight

Yeah, yeah. I’m a sucker for these books. A Court of Frost and Starlight is intended to be a longer than novella length book that will bridge the first three books and a spin-off series. It sounds pretty chill, maybe with some inner circle drama, but definitely a good way to see what the characters are up to following the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin. I honestly don’t have high expectations for this book, but I’m looking forward to reading it anyway. It’s junk food basically. I just want more Feyra + Rhysand to be honest.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken – Review

Cover- The Darkest Minds

Published: December 18, 2012

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Series: The Darkest Minds #1

Pages: 488 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.


Wowww I can see why they picked this book series to turn into a movie! The plot in a nutshell – kids start dying, but the ones that don’t develop abilities ranging from increased intelligence to setting things on fire with their minds. The government freaks out and takes the survivors to camps where they’re treated terribly under the guise of eventual rehabilitation to society. Wider society is crumbling and there are different organizations working against the government camps, the main one being the Children’s League all the while there are kids on the run from authorities.

The Darkest Minds is told from the perspective of Ruby, a girl taken to the worst camp around the age of 10. She’s survived by hiding her true gifts – she is an orange, or manipulator of the mind, but has masqueraded as a green (increased intelligence) since her genesis at the camp. The yellows, oranges, and reds at her camp were hauled off years ago, never to be seen again. Probably dead or being experimented on by the lab coats. Long story short, Ruby escapes with help from the Children’s League and then runs off with some other kids who’ve been on the run for a few weeks and they become friends.

Green – increased intelligence

Blue – telekinesis

Yellow – manipulate electricity

Orange – manipulate the mind

Red – manipulate fire

Ruby and her compatriots were very likable characters and didn’t feel overly mature or immature for their age group. It was a good balance and they handled most situations with a maturity that comes from having to grow up quickly, but they still had moments of childish petulance and even some moments of enjoyment. I like getting to know each of them – silent Zu and her yellow gloves, Liam and his charisma, Chubs and his dreams of going to college… it really made me feel so much more for each of these characters.

All in all, I was really impressed with the quality of this book – much better than a lot of YA novels and I can see why it garnered enough attention to be picked up for a movie deal. I’ll definitely be seeing that movie when it’s released in September 2018 just to see if I like it as much as the book (I am skeptical of this). I’d like to continue on with the series at some point – for those of you who’ve read this series already, is it worth it? Should I keep reading?

Currently Reading: 1/29/18

Cover- The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’ve got about 6 hrs left in this audiobook and I like it… I don’t love it yet but it’s got a lot going for it. The characters aren’t your usual vapid twits that fall in love with the first ethereal fae male that walks by, which I’m really appreciating at the moment. Will have full report soonish, so keep an eye out.

I’ll also be finishing up Daughters of the Storm this week! Gotta get a head start on all those March releases!

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft – Review

Cover- Senlin Ascends

Published: January 16, 2018

Publisher: Orbit Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Books of Babel #1

Pages: 448 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.

This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.


This may be a weird way to start a review, but I’m really happy for Josiah Bancroft – he started out as a self-published author, but through the efforts of he and his readers he’s now been picked up by Orbit! That’s a big deal!!! I initially heard about Senlin Ascends when it was going through the rounds of SPFBO – I was curious but just didn’t have the time to pick it up. I wasn’t cool enough to check it out before it was mainstream, but now that it is….

Thomas Senlin is a schoolteacher – a quiet man in a world of his own, until he marries Marya. Marya is a bright young girl who’s basically the exact opposite of Tom Senlin. The unlikely couple marries (somewhat scandalizing their neighbors) and goes to honeymoon at the Tower of Babel, a marvel of construction, with each level of the tower being a kingdom (or Ringdom) unto itself. The tower sounds like a nightmare to a solitude loving introvert like myself. Too many people, thievery, filth, noise, and lurking evil. Or open evil. It depends on the ringdom. Anyway, Tom loses Marya about 32 seconds after exiting the train and spends the next 400 pages trying to find her. She is well and truly lost it seems, but Tom Senlin continues to search for her, going to greater and more extreme measures with each floor of the tower he ascends.

This book had an interesting but slow beginning. It wasn’t plodding, but merely going at its own steady pace and I enjoyed it. As the book goes along, things pick up and Tom gets bolder and more streetwise. At the beginning he’s basically a walking target for any criminal in proximity and is taken advantage of and gets in so many traumatizing situations that I occasionally had to pause and collect myself. I was practically chewing my nails off because I was like, stressed out for this fictional character. And then I was horrified by the corruption and the treatment of people. The floor with the plays was one of the most disturbing, mostly because of how infractions to the rules were dealt with. Ohmygosh. I shudder thinking about it.

I would definitely recommend Senlin Ascends if you’re looking for a book that’s practically its own genre. It’s so creative and I can only imagine how much thought was put into creating this soaring tower of debauchery and delight. I was fond of the element of redemption presented throughout the story. Many of Senlin’s enemies or aggressors become his close companions, though I hesitate to trust they have entirely honorable intentions and won’t betray him. I really enjoyed this book overall, but didn’t passionately love it enough to grant it 5 stars. I’ll absolutely be checking out The Arm of the Sphinx as soon as it’s available!

Waiting on Wednesday: Ravencry by Ed McDonald

“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- Ravencry

Well, well, well. Just as I finish up Blackwing I see that the sequel has a cover and a synopsis.  Ravencry is set four years after the events of Blackwing and Ryhalt, Nenn, and Tnota are apparently going to trek to the depths of the Misery. I can only anticipate a fantastic book full of disturbing creatures and brutal battles. This is set to release in June in the UK and August in the US (US cover featured above). I’m looking forward to this one a great deal after the great impression the first left on me.

Blackwing by Ed McDonald – Review

Cover- Blackwing

Published: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Ace Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Ravens’ Mark #1

Pages: 360 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Set on the ragged edge of a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…

Nothing in the Misery lasts…

Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.

Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.

Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve…


Blackwing is another book that I wanted to read when it actually came out in October, but yet again that was a really busy time in my life. I ended up getting the audio version so I could fit it in my life! Once again I’m glad I did because it was an excellent book, just as the critics (aka reviewers) have claimed.

One thing that really stood out to me was the writing style – I felt as if I was in the midst of the action scenes, caught up with Ryhalt Galharrow in the battles, burglaries, and general crisis type situations. I loved it. I also loved the mysterious nature of both the Deep Kings, their minions, and the Nameless. The lack of detail lent to this air of mystery and let me create my own image of them – you know they say that it’s the not knowing that’s really scary. The setting of this book was also pretty cool. The Misery is a vast wasteland created by the Nameless when they unleashed Nall’s Engine against the Deep Kings many years prior. It’s full of creepy monsters that repeat nonsensical phrases and eat you while you soundly sleep, dust that makes you a bit nutty, and other delightful horrors. Most people don’t go there, but Ryhalt Galharrow makes it his business to chase down traitors and sympathizers and ofttimes they go to the Misery.

Ryhalt was such a dark and brooding character! The story hints at his past and the deeds that haunt him, but most of that information isn’t given until much later in the book when a figure from his past reappears. Ezabeth Tanza is a powerful spinner who’s garnered Crowfoot’s interest, so he’s sent Ryhalt to escort her back to the city of Valengrad. Good thing too, because as soon as Ryhalt shows up a Darling shows up with some minions and attacks the outpost she’s arrived at. By the way, Darlings are the sinister child-like mages of the Deep Kings. Ezabeth and Ryhalt have a past, so there’s much tension between the two and I spent most of the book wishing they’d just get on with it. SPILL THE BEANS PEOPLE. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN.

That aside, I really like both characters as well as the secondaries, the plot, and the setting. It was solid grimdark fantasy and I felt kind of morbidly hopeful at the end. Maybe they won’t be bits of dust blowing across the Misery after all. I’m looking to the sequel when it’s released later this year and have plans to actually read that one when it comes out rather than several months later. If you’re looking for some good action packed fantasy that it’s fluffy and heroic, but rather darkly heroic and somewhat nihilistic this might be the book for you.

Currently Reading: 1/22/18

Cover- Daughters of the Storm

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

I guess it’s high time I get started on all those March releases I have piling up on my TBR. This is the story of five royal sisters who must save their kingdom from an evil stepbrother. This book sounds interesting and I hope I end up enjoying it because it’s kind of long. No one wants to waste reading time!

 

I’ll also be finishing Iron Gold this week and I will be sad when it’s over! It’s been awesome thus far.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – Audiobook Review

Cover- The Hazel Wood

Published: January 30, 2018

Publisher: MacMillan Audio

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Hazel Wood #1

Length: 10 hr 30 min

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


Somehow I just knew this was going to be an outstanding book. Maybe it was the cover. Or maybe it was the synopsis. Or maybe it was just my book-dar picking up a winner. Whatever it was, when I got a surprise audiobook download from MacMillan in the mail I knew I was in for a treat. They also sent me an awesome gold sharpie so I can vandalize things in glam metallics… or you know, color the promo poster they sent.

The Hazel Wood may be one of the best creepy, dark fairytales ever. From the very beginning and the mentions of the persistent bad luck, leaving in the middle of the night, and Alice’s odd kidnapping that this isn’t going to be a Disney fairytale, but rather something more akin to the originals told by the brothers Grimm. Alice has lived an unusual life, with virtually no connections aside from her mother, and a secret obsession for the grandmother she’s never met. Althea Proserpine was an author of a book of dark fairy tale stories called Tales from the Hinterland, which is rare, scary, and maybe based on a place Althea actually disappeared to for two years.

Alice is showcased as a girl alone amongst her peers who also has anger management struggles. She often snaps at people and frequently uses her mother’s zen breathing techniques to not throat punch people who irritate her. When they most recently settle in New York City she does her usual not making friends thing until one Ellery Finch waits out storm Alice and sort of becomes a friend. Ellery’s major drawback is that he is a huge fan of Tales from the Hinterland and Alice has always tried to avoid fans… that is, until her mother goes missing and she needs someone that has actually read the book her grandmother wrote. Ellery plays that role and the two set off on a journey to find the Hazel Wood and hopefully Alice’s mother.

The whole story was a disturbing delight to read and I will absolutely be keeping an eye out for more books by Melissa Albert. Not everything was as it seemed, many secrets were unveiled, and there was a fair bit of trauma to be had. The Hazel Wood sated my hunger for a slightly twisted tale and has left me with a desire to find more stories of this sort (recommendations are welcome). I would definitely recommend this for fans of fairy tale retellings, dark, whimsical stories, and solidly strong female characters who break the mold.

Reviewer’s Block

Does anyone else ever get to the point in their blogging where they just don’t know what to say any more? I’ve hit that point. I always feel like I say the same things in my reviews – the characters are good, the worldbuilding is cool, I like the setting… blah blah blah. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to address these topics but sometimes it feels like pulling teeth to put the words down on paper. Some books are just hard to review because I like them, but don’t feel really strongly about them in either a positive or negative way and its made reviewing feel like a drag lately!

In an effort to revive my own interest in reviewing books I’m just going to go with the flow and throw format out the window. I just do a series of bullet points for a book. I might do a review entirely made of memes. Who knows – I might try interpretive dance. Actually, that would be a terrible idea as I can’t even clap on beat, much less dance. What I’m trying to say is that in the future, my reviews might be a little wild but more “me” than they have been. I want to have as much fun talking about the books I read as I do reading them! I hope you will all continue to check out my reviews and other posts and I welcome your feedback – I love seeing your comments, though I’ve been bad at responding to them in a timely manner lately. Also, if you’ve had reviewers block, how did you deal with it?

Also, I’m thinking about doing away with the numeric rating system but haven’t come up with a substitute I like yet!