**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [311]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means 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!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
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Hello summer! For me this means summer reading has officially started this week as state schools finally let out for the summer break. As we get a flurry of requests, I've been trying to up my reading game and hopefully catch up on some reviewing. Here's what's been on my shelf recently.

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon
Currently Reading.

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
Recently Completed.

Pierce Brown's Red Rising: Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown
Recently completed. Review coming soon.

Arena by Holly Jennings
Recently Completed.

Buried Heart by Kate Elliott
Recently completed. Review coming soon.

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson
Recently completed. Review coming soon.

The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick
Completed in May.

Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck
Completed in May.

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu
Completed in May. Reviewed last week.

Every Day by David Levithan
Completed audiobook in May.

Share yours below!
Here you go

Friday, June 15, 2018

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Hardcover: 343 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: October 10, 2017

Series:  Gold Seer Trilogy #3

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Leah Westfall’s journey has been one of ever-present peril, hidden magic, harsh realities, loss, life, determination, and love. She has searched for a place to belong and a place to call home, and people who can accept a girl with magical powers that prove to be both blessing and curse.
Rae Carson has been lauded as one of YA’s best writers of fantasy, and fans of Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, and Westworld will be riveted by the conclusion of this remarkable historical fantasy trilogy.
Leah is poised to have everything she ever dreamed of on the long, dangerous journey to California’s gold fields—wealth, love, the truest friends, and a home. Thanks to her magical ability to sense precious gold, Leah, her fiancé Jefferson, and her friends have claimed rich land in California Territory. But their fortune makes them a target, and when a dangerous billionaire sets out to destroy them, Leah and her friends must fight back with all of their power and talents.
Leah’s magic is continuing to strengthen and grow, but someone is on to her—someone who might have a bit of magic herself. The stakes are higher than ever as Lee and her friends hatch a daring scheme that could alter California’s history forever.
With a distinctive heroine and a unique interpretation of American history, Into the Bright Unknown strikes a rich vein of romance, magic, and adventure.

I never want Rae Carson's books to end, and this was no exception! Having made a deal with a deceptively smooth councilman for their town charter and needing to retrieve Becky Joyner's confiscated house, Leah Westfall and her band of pioneers journey out of their newly minted town of Glory, California to the big, high-stakes city of San Francisco to secure their future. When they arrive in San Francisco, they stumble into a much bigger extortion scheme and make an ambitious plan to fight for justice.

Most of this book is centered on San Francisco of 1849/1850 before California becomes a state. It brings to life a number of famously historical circumstances including the practice of sinking or grounding ships to establish or build real estate (SF Gate article). In fact, only within the last few years has it been more covered in the media that there are still actual ships buried under the streets of San Francisco (National Geographic article). I found this coverage of history, and my subsequent research, absolutely fascinating! I've been to San Francisco in the last few years, and now I'm kicking myself that I didn't visit the Maritime Museum. Anyway, one of the grounded ships is the vessel that brought Becky Joyner's house to San Francisco, and Leah decides to buy and turn into a sort of home since renting and living in San Francisco depletes their gold funds rapidly. The book illustrates the different uses many of the abandoned gold rush ships served -- as storage, hotels, homes, a jail, etc. -- which were all true in history.

Another of the book's history gems is bringing up the law of coverture (Wikipedia). When Becky Joyner goes to claim her house---and remember her husband is dead, the bank will not let her claim the property because, as they say, "a wife has no legal standing. All her rights are covered by, and thus represented by, the rights of her husband" which was known as the law of coverture. Since Becky's husband is dead and their son is not yet of age, the only one legally allowed to claim her house would be Becky's father-in-law back in Tennessee. This situation describes a very real and widespread problem for women and one of the driving forces behind the fight for women's right to vote as the majority of women couldn't hold property and therefore couldn't vote. It brings the law to life to view it through such strong female characters as Leah and Becky Joyner and hear their feminist voices discuss the ramifications.

Lastly, I love the character arc we've seen in Leah. She rises from scared runaway girl to wagon train leader to establishing a town to partially leading a civil rights rebellion and in this last novel, she certainly doesn't back down from greater heights. She and her fellows start a revolution in San Francisco against corruption and greed. She's also been practicing with her magic too, and manages several amazing feats. I'm not going to spoil any of these exciting plot developments here though. That's something you'll definitely want to read yourself!

The ONE question I still really wanted answered out of this series was just what happened with her mom? This question has been danced and danced around and we get closer here, but I just never felt true closure with this question. Alas, that's exactly how life is too!

We do see a few old friends (and enemies) surface. Relationships are built and furthered including that of Leah and Jefferson, though this is, as always, not the driving motivations in the book but rather a pleasant side-plot. I would love to see this series become a movie or tv show. It would be really cool to watch all of the history really come alive, especially that of San Francisco and the "Oregon Trail" west. I think this series might appeal to readers who loved Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Grey and Salt to the Sea and might be looking for something lighter but just as rich. It gives gold rush history a little bit of Leah's gold dust sense.


Saturday, June 09, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [310]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means 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!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
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This week's crop of books is certainly interesting. (To get the full picture, check out my complete stack at Reading Reality!)

But I have three, let's call them intriguing, covers to show you this week. Two are historical mysteries, one of my favorite genres, and the other is a great, big epic fantasy that won't even be out until next February.

I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to think about the depths of next winter yet! But still, February is always a great time to curl up with a really big book.



A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper


A Murdered Peace by Candace Robb


The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 367 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: May 2, 2017

Series:  The Summoner #3

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Fletcher and his friends fight for survival in the ether, where they pursue a mortally dangerous quest to rebuild their world and broker peace.
Even as hatred threatens to turn friend into foe in The Battlemage, Fletcher must lead a small army of soldiers into battle to protect his ancestral homeland, and face his biggest challenge yet: his nemesis, the albino orc, Khan, who seeks to destroy everything Fletcher holds dear.

This next adventure for Fletcher comes smack after the events of The Inquisition as Fletcher and his friends have been stranded in the poisonous ether and are on the run from the pursuing orcs. I found this part of the story to be both creative and also hard to grasp the full breadth and detail of the setting. The ether seemed to have more identified demons than in the glossary at the end of the novels, and while it's easily imaginable to have many more demons, there's both a narrow-ness of the scope of demons we've met and then those that appear in the ether. I find this contradiction confusing, which consequently made the ether "world" hard to see. There was a lot of vague description and little detail to make this world come fully realized.

This brings me to the next significant event which is where Ignatius goes deep-lava-diving and he "levels up" or evolves (just like a Pokémon) into a Drake. In the confrontation with Khan, we learn that the Salamander has three stages: Salamander, Drake, and then Dragon. Khan's Salamander completes his evolution into a Dragon and we see an epic fight between the two, but...there are some explanations missing here for why Ignatius did not complete his evolution and the result of his confrontations with Khan's Dragon (not going further due to spoilers!).

This last matter illustrates one of the two big frustrations of this novel -- the unresolved questions. Here are some for kicks: What really happened to Fletcher's mom and how does she recover? What about the rest of Fletcher's training, and how is this training not important to this war they've found themselves embroiled in? Is Ignatius going to be a Dragon? What is Ignatius's fulfillment level? What about the forbidden elf/human relationship between Sylva and Fletcher? What about the fate of Ignatius and Athena? (And on a minor note, Sylva's Griffin?)

These questions go hand-in-hand with the other problem of the novel - that of the too-fast pace. It feels rushed. This epic war battle was resolved in about two chapters and then the Epilogue was also very quick. We don't feel a satisfying resolution to the question of King Harold's traitorous father, the betrayal of Didric, and what happens to the rest of the orcs/goblins/Khan/Dragon. What about the politics of the realm? What happens to the relations between the dwarves/humans/elves? It could have launched into another book and if things were covered at all, they're so quick you have trouble remembering what happened. So that too, raises the real question, does this series continue or was this, the end of the proposed trilogy, the END? The Outcast, the Prequel, returns to a young Arcturus and recently came out in early May 2018. As of now, there are no other announcements for the series.

With all this criticism, Kara, are you sure you liked this book at all? YES! I really do like this series and I found it a delight to read. Like a light, middle grade Lord of the Rings plus magic school element plus Pokémon. I enjoyed this third book, but didn't like the last 2-3 chapters because it ran away with itself. My favorite parts in the book were about the new villagers of Raleightown and their adventure at rebuilding. I'm still sad it had to be abandoned almost immediately. :( I'm looking forward to reading the prequel and seeing what else pops up from Matharu.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [309]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means 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!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
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 My complete stack over at Reading Reality isn't much bigger than this one. It's been a slow week - and that's probably a good thing. But one book that I want to pay special attention to this week is Cocktales, the anthology created in support of the authors who have been directly and negatively impacted by the cluster**** that is #cockygate.

Cocktales: the Cocky Collective by Penny Reid and others

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan



Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Hardcover: 624 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 18, 2018

Series:  Illuminae Files #3

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza--but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys--an old flame from Asha's past--reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.


I was so excited for this book, I repeatedly had to tell myself to calm down and breathe. I love everything about it. From the space adventure to the near-death escapades and the creative art mediums to the real-as-life characters, this is an amazing series and satisfyingly wraps up in this final volume. Our favorite characters from the last novels join newcomers Asha, Kady's cousin, and Rhys, once Asha's boyfriend, who are battling for their lives on opposing sides on Kerenza while the rest are in a battle for survival in space making their way to the mining planet.

Marie Lu's art has changed as Kady and the group are rendered in manga-like cartoon form in a few sketches. More than before, this story is split between the courtroom trial of Leanne Frobisher and BeiTech, Kady/Ezra/Nik/Hanna, and the action on Kerenza. You might think it would be hard to keep so many characters and storylines straight but Kristoff and Kaufman do it almost effortlessly. Our beloved Machiavellian AI is back as AIDAN and it seems to be evolving. It now experiences emotion and shows itself capable of deceit.

Some key changes have happened along the way from Gemina, and we pick the story up right after Nik, Hanna, and Ella have their close brush with an alternate dimension and the Heimdall waypoint is destroyed. The two groups struggle to come together, and the Hypatia is overloaded with refugees. As they decide to return to Kerenza to intercept BeiTech's Mobile Jump Platform Magellan and from there hopefully return to earth they face a seemingly insurmountable task as they must manage to overwhelm the last of BeiTech's dreadnoughts the Churchill. The two groups of the Hypatia and the Jump Station Heimdall face some conflict in leadership which brings up the age-old challenge of adult vs. teenagers as many don't think Kady/Ezra/Nik/Hanna (shortened to KENH, because this is exhausting to type) have any authority despite the fact that some of the choices they've made have saved everyone's lives.

Meanwhile, on Kerenza, Asha encounters her former separated boyfriend Rhys but bad news--he's on the side of BeiTech. For the first time we see the viewpoint of a BeiTech grunt and the orders they've given to the soldiers; in other words, we see the enemy become human. As each of them struggle with their situation, they become unlikely allies as each tries to understand the other, inviting more of a Romeo/Juliet comparison.

This is probably the part of the book that I was most frustrated with. The breakneck speed of the plot and circumstances really didn't allow as much time as before to really get to know Asha and Rhys since they're already fighting for their lives. It's certainly understandable why, but I just missed having as much of a connection to their part of the story as with the KENH part. It's simply for this reason alone that I didn't LOVE this book as much as I LOVED Illuminae and Gemina. I've no idea how they would've made it any better than it was, but because it was just so fast, I wanted there to be more "meat" or emotional connection with all of the characters, especially with the new ones. And like most series, I wanted more at the end. Maybe seeing more of the celebration and all interacting together, alive and safe, finally? Not sure. Maybe reading about the weddings? Absolutely, I would like to read about this group of teens (and a few adults) doing something more. However, the ending with AIDAN? Ahhhh-mazing. Blown away. How you inspire so much love for an electronic entity I don't know, but Kristoff and Kaufman have definitely given me feels for this Machiavellian machine monster.

Tell me your thoughts if you have them!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [308]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means 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!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
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To all the readers in the U.S., happy 3-day Memorial Day weekend!

While my full stack is over at Reading Reality, this weekend I wanted to tease you with a few books that have made my curiosity bump itch more than a bit. Maybe you'll have the same reaction I have?



An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris


The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah


Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [307]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means 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!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
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My full stack is over at Reading Reality, but before I tease you with book covers, I wanted to share this picture of actual book stacks currently on my office floor. We were moving bookcases around, and needed to empty them first!



I also have three book covers to share. One is for the book I received this week that I most wanted, and the other two are just pretty. I'll leave you to guess which is which!

Becoming Belle by Nuala O'Connor


The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton


A Gift of Griffins by V.M. Escalada


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 452 pages
Publisher: Viking
Release date: March 6, 2018

Series: Rebel of the Sands, #3

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

When gunslinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.


Ever since I read Rebel of the Sands last year, I loved it. I found it impossible not to love Amani. With the final in the series, I can one hundred percent say this is a solid fantasy. Immediately, I want more from Alwyn Hamilton. Upon our last novel, Amani had escaped from the Sultan's harem but not without great consequences. Her cousin, Shira, was executed for birthing a Djinni, and Amani rescued her son; the Sultan killed the Sultim and made it look like the rebels; and the Sultan and his  traitorous daughter Leyla built a machine to harness the Djinni's energy to power metal golems called Abdals which could basically blast magical fire cannons and only had the one weakness of their Achilles tendons. Additionally, the Sultan captured much of the rebellion, including Ahmed, the Rebel Prince, his Demdji sister Delila, and Shazad, their general. He had thought he executed Ahmed, but really it was Imin, their Djinni shapeshifter. The core group of the rebellion is now very small, leaving only Hala, Amani, Jin, Maz and Izz, and Sam. They also are accompanied by a reluctant Tamid who just wants to return home.

Now, the Sultan has cast a shield over Izman to keep out their many enemies, but it's also trapped Amani and the leaders of the rebellion. Meanwhile he sent Ahmed and his other prisoners of the rebellion out of the city. With Ahmed and Shazad captured, Amani finds herself the reluctant de-facto leader of the rebellion since she's the most recognizable. She's only led smaller bands, and now she must decide what their little group does that could have such far-reaching consequences as to kill the rebellion entirely if they fail.

In the course of their quest, Amani has to confront her hometown and with it, her old self. As the foolish wishes of other Demdji and their mothers come to fruition around her, she wrestles with her own desires and that of the wisest choice of action to save their people. One of the most interesting things is the juxtaposition of her beginning at Dustwalk and the family she finds through the rebellion and her Demdji blood. Amani has been an outcast, an outlaw, a slave, a prisoner, and now a leader, a hero, and an acrobat, balancing between Djinni curse and Demdji power. She is always two halves, and it's funny how this book really illustrates that.

My favorite and most agonizing part was her relationship with Jin and how this develops towards the end of the novel. Then there's the key heartbreak in the novel, too, that had me crying and mourning. I almost didn't think the ending was going to pull off, but, wow. The final chapters were so fast-paced that I almost don't recall what happens, but interspersed and at the end there are these beautiful and lyric myth/legend segments that wrap the story up to make it feel almost like a fairy tale.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [306]


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means 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!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
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I have another pretty tall stack over at Reading Reality, but there are three books I wanted to highlight here this week.

So I'm going to show you my favorite cover this week, my favorite title this week, and a new book by Susan Mallery. I discovered I had three books from her in the stack this week, so it only seems fair to include one of them. I'll leave you to guess which of the other two is which!


An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten


The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston


When We Found Home by Susan Mallery



Please link your STS post in the linky below: