Stacking the Shelves: 6/9/18

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!


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Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

Can it just be stated that I was rather surprised when my request for this was granted? Such an excellent surprise! If you’re a regular here, you already know my feelings on MJS’s books, so no need to repeat again. Thanks uber-much Del Rey!

The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan

The grand conclusion folks! I still haven’t decided if I’m rooting for the humans, the dragons, or the lizard people… The cover indicates some epic dragon battles and I couldn’t be more thrilled to find out how this wraps up. Thanks to Ace for the finished copy, which will looks absolutely dashing on my shelves.

Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

I so hope this book is as amazing as I hope it will be. It features gladiatorial combat and whenever a book has the arena style thing going on I turn into a blood-thirsty Roman patrician screaming from the seats of the Colosseum. Bonus points for it being space-gladiators in this one. Thanks to DAW for the finished copy.

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

I loved the first three books in this series so I’m hoping that the extension on this series will pan out well. I’m sure things are going to get wild in this book and I can’t wait to see if the Great Library of Alexandria will end up burning to ash at last. Thanks to Berkley for the finished copy.

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Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

I’ll be honest… I don’t remember if I requested this book or not. Either way, it sounds pretty interesting and I’ve never read a Seanan McGuire book (though I’ve read books under her pen names). It’s the story of a hitch-hiker ghost which seems cool. Thanks to DAW for this one.

Redemptions Blade: After the War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I’ve read (well, listened to) two of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s books this year and enjoyed both. I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy from Solaris and jumped on it! Thanks for posting this all the way from the UK, Solaris!

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

This is another author I’ve heard praised pretty frequently, so I decided this was a good book to start with. I devoured this book in a couple days and will post a review eventuallY! Thanks to Berkley for the lovely finished copy!

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After spending some time browsing around Books-A-Million I picked up Tower of Dawn and One Blood Ruby from their discount section. I had to keep my SJMaas collection up to date, especially since this installment is one of the best in the series. The other book has fairies, so yeah. I bought it and intend to read this series when there’s a slower book release month.

I also picked up this awesome new National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America. It has good quality pictures of bark, leaves, flowers, etc and it’s a decent size to haul around in a hiking bag.

I also picked up a few new audiobooks. Children of Time and Jane Steele were great and I”ll be posting reviews at some point in the future (been kind of slow lately). Warlock Holmes is weird and funny and a nice tribute to the Sherlock Holmes legacy.

Lastly, I have sort of an honorable mention. The pre-order for Golden Son cam up on Subterranean Press AT LONG LAST and you better believe I pre-ordered that sucker. It’s even more beautiful than the first one and it’s not sold out yet if you’re interested!

Waiting on Wednesday: Dark Age by Pierce Brown

“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- Dark Age

OH MAN. How cool is this!? Dark Age doesn’t appear to have a synopsis on Goodreads yet, but now that it has a cover, I can do this post! I’m tremendously excited for this book and once you’re a fan, do you really even need a synopsis? Pierce Brown is bound to deliver more pulse-pounding action and a hefty dose of heartbreak in this newest installment of the Red Rising saga. What more could a girl ask for?

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – Review

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Published: December 5, 2017

Publisher: Del Rey

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Winternight Trilogy #2

Pages: 363 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.


The Girl in the Tower was the perfect read for a cold, craptastic week where all you want to do is snuggle under a blanket with cookies and tea. I’m also a bit late in reviewing it because I missed the memo that the release date was changed from January 2018 to the beginning of December. Woops! Undeterred by the missed release date (who really cares anyway?) I cracked open the pages and proceeded to get lost in this beautiful story.

After the dramatic events of The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasya has made the decision to leave her home because the villagers think she’s a witch. This is rather unfair, as Vasya only sees what others do not and understands how to speak to them. She’s also pretty tight with Morozko – the frost demon, the winter king, death. You could even say they have something along the lines of a romantic relationship, though it’s only beginning to show itself. I digress – Vasya has run away from home with her horse Solovey as her only companion. She quickly learns that the world is not safe or kind to anyone – be they girl, boy, rich, or poor- and that lies can only keep so safe for a short while. I think Vasya comes a long way in her maturity as this book progresses and she truly begins to choose her own path through life, despite the pressures of her siblings and society to conform to her expected role.

Probably half the reason that I loved this book so much is the setting – medieval Russia is fascinating. From the politicking to the mythos and rise of Christianity this is such a rich and unfamiliar world that I love to read about. I constantly found myself pausing to look up terms, read about historical figures, and learn about how society worked during this time period. As in most medieval cultures, women were mostly attractive background noise but I feel that this book shows a more extreme version. Vasya’s elder sister married one of the Muscovite princes and her life consists of gossip with other wives, bearing and rearing children, and staying in her palace unless it was a holy day. I could not imagine living such an entrapped life! Vasya defies the conventions of her day and sets off to travel the world and does rather well disguised as a boy.

Overall, The Girl in the Tower was an elegantly told story with solid plot and pacing. I thought it was a much more engaging read than The Bear and the Nightingale, and by that I mean it was much easier to sit down and read 100+ pages at a time. I was also VERY glad that Konstantin was less present here as he was an infuriating character who should have been fed to a rusalka at the first opportunity. The ending was especially good and left me very curious about the path the third book will take. I for sure want to add a hardcover copy of this to my shelves because the cover design is just as lovely as the story!

Currently Reading: 12/11/17

HOW IS IT ONLY 2 WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!???? That is just crazy and awesome!

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The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

So, the fact that the release date for this book was pushed back from January to December somehow didn’t come to my attention until everyone started posting reviews! That just means instead of waiting another week or two, I’ll be starting The Girl in the Tower this week. I dearly hope it is as lovely and magical as the first book and I think it’ll be  a perfect read for these chilly wintry days.

I’ll also be listening to another audiobook this week, but haven’t quite decided on which one.

Stacking the Shelves: 11/18/17

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!


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Check out that Lannister drink coaster!

So, this is seems to be smaller than my usual haul, but it’s also only been a few weeks since my last Stacking the Shelves post so that means I’m doing good, right!?

Received for Review:

Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

I LOVE GLADIATORIAL COMBAT IN MY BOOKS!!! When this was pitched to me I was thrilled and so I signed up for the blog tour. Keep an eye out for my review for this on its release date – 1/16/18. Thanks to Tor Teen for the ARC.

Perfect Shadow by Brent Weeks

What a cute little hardcover! It’s so wee compared to a normal book. This is a novella focusing on how Durzo Blint became Durzo Blint. Also included is the short story I, Night Angel. Thanks to Orbit for the finished copy!

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

Norse influenced epic fantasy where five sisters beat down their evil stepbrother. Count me in. Though this is slated to release in the US in March 2018, it looks like it was first released in 2014 (Australia maybe?). Thanks to Del Rey for providing an ARC!

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

AHHHH this book!!! I don’t really do horror, but the paranormal/mythology/science thing presented in the synopsis of this book meant it automatically went into my request list. Killer mermaids. Yes. Many thanks to Orbit/ Hachette Audio for the audio copy.

Deadhouse Landing by Ian C. Esslemont

HOORAY!! I may have had few books in this haul, but they are all very exciting to get, particularly this one. I love the Malazan world, so naturally I requested this and promptly read it. Review will be up tomorrow!! Thanks to Tor/NetGalley for a review copy.

My Purchases:

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Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

My only purchase was at least an excellent one. I picked up the audio copy of this since I’ll be pulling long shifts this week at work in preparation for a long weekend. The hardcover will come into my possession at a later date because have you seen those endpapers??? Excellent so far!

Stacking the Shelves: 8/19/17

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:

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

A very exciting arrival from Tor. This steampunk fantasy debut with musketeers and looming civil war sounds right up my alley!

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

This is a sequel that I’ve been hoping to get my hands on for a while now. Not only does it have a stunning cover, but the story sounds as if it will be an amazing continuation of Nevernight! My thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for the finished copy.

The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker

This one sounds like a really stellar sci-fi novel (pun intended). A murder mystery combined with space travel to a new world has me really intrigued. Thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the eBook (my physical copy is still in-transit).

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Here’s to hoping that this sequel is just as magically beautiful as the first! Can’t wait to see what sort of trouble Vasya gets herself into this time. Thanks to Del Rey and NetGalley!

My Purchases:

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With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Yes, I already have the hardcover of this, but due to time constraints I decided to pick up the audio copy. An excellent choice on my part! The narration is quite good and the story is even better.

Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan – Review

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Published: July 25, 2017

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Legends of the First Empire #2

Pages: 512 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

In Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without—and bitter rivalries within.

Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.


I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Michael J. Sullivan’s books because even after reading so many, I’m still so entertained and enthusiastic about them. His characters are lovable (or at least likable) and the plots are always top-notch.

Age of Swords literally goes from 0 to 100 in about 5 pages. It was one of the most incredible intros that I’ve ever read because I was NOT EXPECTING IT AT ALL. I mean really, tornadoes pretty much never happen in fantasy books, and MJS made it into this great moment that set the mood for the entire book. Not kidding, this entire event sequence kicks the story into high gear and far outstrips the pace of the previous book. Persephone is now the chief of Dahl Rhen and she sets about to call for a meeting of the clans to elect a keenig, which is basically a king, so they may make war upon the Fhrey. Throw in some dwarves, a pile of Tolkein-esque action and monsters, a few heartbreaking moments, and you’ve got one heck of a story coming your way. Go ahead and set aside whatever tasks you thought you were going to do because you’ll want to binge read Age of Swords.

The characters develop significantly throughout the course of events and I grew to like them even more, though not so much as I loved Royce and Hadrian. These characters just don’t have the same witty banter and camaraderie as those two, but this is set in a very different age. Persephone continues to kick butt mostly by having common sense and a level head. I think she makes a fine leader, especially since she surrounds herself with bright and clever people that totally support her. Brin and Suri both become older, wiser, and more world weary. Suri in particular becomes quite the spectacular butterfly, though she is such a different person at the end. Raithe is somewhat frustrating and Mawyndule has actually gained some sympathy from me because his sheltered and soft lifestyle left him stupidly naïve.

Overall, Age of Swords has left much more of an impact on me that Age of Myth did. It’s got so much more going on and I wasn’t bored for a second! The ridiculous pace at which things were invented/discovered (writing, the wheel, the bow and arrow etc.) made me laugh just a little because it was like society was on fast-forward. The Lord of the Rings influence was very strong for a portion of the book which was simultaneously amusing and overbearing. I’ll tentatively say that I rather liked it, but the whole Gandalf v. Balrog parallel was crazy obvious (I’m making the assumption it was intentional). However, I am REALLY looking forward to the release of Age of War because I can only think this series will continue to gain in awesomeness.

Stacking the Shelves: 6/17/17

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:

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

YAY for bookmail surprises! I had requested this months ago and lo and behold, it showed up! I really can’t wait to read this mash up of fantasy, history, and government agencies. Thanks to William Morrow for the finished copy.

The Song of the Orphans by Daniel Price

I was approached about this book and despite it being the second book in a series, I accepted because the premise was SO intriguing. I can’t wait to check this one out. Thanks to Blue Rider Press for the finished copy.

Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Anything from Michael J. Sullivan is an automatic add to the TBR, thus the second installment in The Legends of the First Empire series made its way into my possession. I’m excited to see how the story continues to develop. Thanks to Del Rey Books and NetGalley.

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

I recently caught up on The Great Library series just in time for the third installment. This turned out to be a haul full of great sequels! Thanks to Berkley and NetGalley.

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

This is probably in the top 5 for most anticipated YA sequels for 2017 and I snagged an eGalley! I’ll probably read this one as soon as my schedule allows and I’m sure it will involve a binge read session. Thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss.

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Books with libraries + Indian cultural influence = potential awesomeness. Sounds like it has some pretty basic themes underlying, but hopefully the author will have made it something really special. My thanks to Razorbill and Penguin First to Read.

Purchased Books:

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

By now it’s no secret that I love Laini Taylor’s books and I’ve already featured this as my current read… and now I’ve finished it. I highly recommend the audio version of this series! Review to come in a few weeks.

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

After receiving a copy of The Song of the Orphans I decided that I should probably read the first book (duh). The overview I read was thorough, but still didn’t satisfy my desire for details!

Gilded Cage by Vic James – Review

A review copy of this book was received in exchange for an honest review.

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Published: February 14, 2017

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

 

Synopsis:

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?


There are a ton of awesome sounding books coming out in February, but Gilded Cage is definitely going to rise to the top. It was mind-blowingly amazing and here’s why. I went in expecting something set in a newly industrialized era, but what I got was modern day with the added twist of a 10-year period of enslavement for each and every non-gifted member of society. This book managed to defy every expectation I had when I began reading.

The most important feature in Gilded Cage is the inescapable decade of slavery that every person must complete. People give up their homes, jobs, and human rights, becoming chattel to the state. This thought was viscerally appalling to me, making an even stronger impact because the story is set in a modern time period that could be a distorted mirror to our own. The slave days, coupled with a society ruled by families with preternatural gifts makes for a gripping, perturbing story that is nearly impossible to put down. The skilled Equal families and their government are similar to the aristocratic society of historical England, minus royalty and with all of the corruption and power games.

The most powerful family, the Jardines, are central to the story, but we wouldn’t have this story if it weren’t for the Hadley family. The Hadley’s are doing their slavedays together as a family and have gotten lucky enough to serve at the Jardine estate. A far cry better than the toxic slums that most people end up in, right? Well, Luke Hadley gets to experience those slums first hand because the powers above have decided that a boy his age wouldn’t be of any use on the estate. As he learns the ways of revolution, his family learns that serving the Equals is still quite dangerous.

However much I liked the Hadleys for their resourcefulness, perserverance, and all around goodness, I liked the Equals because they’re monsters. The Jardines have closets of secrets and my opinions of them were ever-changing. Gavar is a rage machine, all sharp edges and black leather… until he’s with his baby daughter, then he’s awestruck and impossibly happy. Silyen is powerful beyond belief, but no one really knows what he’s capable of. I’m still unsure if he’s playing devil’s advocate or if he’s playing a long game. Jenner is quite unlike either of his brothers and I think he has a scrap of decency, though I have reservations about him. The other Equals range from sadistic to power hungry to abolitionist and each page brought something new to love or loathe.

Vic James is going to bring the house down with this book. This book had more momentum and had a society twice as appalling as The Hunger Games. Dystopian at its finest? Absolutely. I LOVED it and I’m going to go ahead and say this is one of the best books I’ll read in 2017. The countdown to the next installment is on!

 

Hounded by Kevin Hearne – Review

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Published: May 3, 2011

Publisher: Del Rey

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Pages: 292 (Mass Market)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

 

Synopsis:

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.


Hounded was a bit of an impulse buy, but it just sounded so interesting that how could I not buy it? I don’t think I’ve ever read (or listened to) a book with a druid as the main character and it proved to be entertaining and somewhat educational in regard to Irish mythology. I learned a bunch of new names and roles in the Irish pantheon and am now considering doing some more educational reading. Actual education, not education via fiction, which isn’t quite as legitimate.

Atticus O’Sullivan is a 2100 year old druid that currently resides in Arizona with his Irish Wolfhound Oberon. He runs a book store/herbiary and generally tries to stay under the radar. Atticus has stayed up to date on technology and culture, so he doesn’t sound like a 2100 year old, but rather the 21 year old that he appears to be. I found that his lingo felt forced and awkward at times, and I just shook my head and kept going. I did like Atticus, but the narration seemed to go from poised and formal to swearing teenage with surprising rapidity. Oberon, the wolfhound, was actually one of my favorite characters because he could talk (to Atticus) and ended up being a humorous addition.

The story was filled with myth, magic, and lots of action. All of these elements combined really made the story feel unique, fun, and dangerous all at once. There was a pretty decent amount of violence in all mediums- magical, sword fighting, physical, etc., so if that’s not your thing then I’m not sure why you’re reading most SFF books. Atticus is in possession of an ancient and powerful sword called Fragarach, which is super cool and a significant part of the plot, but I kept hearing it as Fraggle Rock which was a Muppet movie. I couldn’t un-hear it. Hounded was an attention grabbing debut and had some very memorable scenes, none of which I will spoil here since they’ll lose their effect.

Hounded is, unfortunately, another one of those books that I didn’t enjoy in audio format. The narrator didn’t really appeal to me and I think I may continue on with the series in a different format. Overall I thought the story was an extremely fun read with Harry Dresden vibes and a great urban fantasy setting. I do admit to loving stories that are laced with a dose of mythology and the Iron Druid series was satisfying in that regard.