**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, March 23, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [351]


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 not-so-tall-as-the-last-few-weeks stack is over at Reading Reality. As always, I got some terrific books, including one that I'm just dying to dive into right this minute.

Take a look at the teasers and see if you can guess which one it is!

(Here's a hint, this is one series that should never be judged by its cover!)







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Click here to enter

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [350]


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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When last we left our heroes, the stack was so tall it threatened to fall on them. This week's stack over at Reading Reality is a bit less splendiferously large, but it still contains plenty of pretty, interesting and pretty darn interesting books.

Here's just a few...








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Saturday, March 09, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [349]


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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There's another pretty tall stack over at Reading Reality this week. What can I say? They all look so pretty!

Of course, some are prettier than others, and some will be more interesting than others. Time will tell. Meanwhile, take a look and see if any of these tickle your reading fancy!








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Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 12, 2019

Series:  Bloodleaf Trilogy #1

Source: For review

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?
When I received this book, I had no idea what it was about. I always read the notes from other authors or reviewers who are featured in the ARC before I start new titles now. With some of the fantasies I've read lately, I am getting more cautious about the titles I pick up. Fantasy/YA authors I trust had to have said some good things about it before I'll give it a chance. I will say, I was pleasantly surprised. Writing this review, I had to work a lot to not share spoilers because some of that is what I really want to talk about. Alas!

Nevertheless, I did find myself sucked into this novel. It was quick to get into/a good hook, gave just enough details that I was trying to puzzle things out but continue reading, and definitely was carried along at a fast pace for the plot. Bloodleaf is a fairytale retelling of The Goose Girl, which I started to realize as soon as it mentioned Falada, the white horse. 

Protagonist Aurelia is a headstrong, untested, and extremely reckless girl for a princess. She's mostly likable even if she severely lacks wisdom that often makes one extremely exasperated with her choices and absence of forethought. She is betrothed to marry the prince of Achleva, but during an attack by the Tribunal and their allies, Aurelia is forced to flee Renault to Achleva with a few important members: Conrad, her brother and the heir to Renault; Toris, a noble lord who is also head leader of the Tribunal and is trusted by her mother because he too is a blood mage; Lisette, Toris's daughter, and Kellan, Aurelia's guard. It is Lisette who pretends to be Aurelia rather than a maid for the retelling. Originally, Aurelia falls headlong into the "damsel in distress" or "princess in jeopardy" trope as other male characters try to protect and shepherd her. She also seems to fall into a sort of "chosen one" trope, but both tropes are subverted by her actions throughout the book and at the ending. She's definitely an empowered damsel if anything.

While I enjoyed getting some description of Achleva and things Aurelia ran into and places she went, the one thing that stood out to me as needing more fleshing out was her journey to Achleva, because at one point she has to rely on herself and she knows nothing. How does she not starve or get completely lost, especially since everyone was having to work so hard to keep her alive? At times it seems like Aurelia is smart, but then just makes unfathomably foolish decisions. She receives a confession of insta-love and believes it, and never sees the betrayal coming. I would have liked to see more of Aurelia's life in Renault growing up rather her descriptions of other characters. A flashback or vivid memories would have lent more credibility to her mother, Kellan, and other details like her cycle of waiting ladies or her discoveries of her blood magic. I thought we did get remembrances of Onal and Conrad. 

My favorite thing about this book was the Achlevan characters like Zan and Kate. They came to life much more than any of the Renaultan folk except Aurelia herself. When we meet Zan and it turns out Zan helps her, there were a number of clues I picked up on here. I was able to predict the majority of the twists but really appreciated the slow unfolding of events and emotional narrative. I was sucked in and crying at two points in the novel! This relationship between Aurelia and Zan felt pretty believable even if it was hard to determine just how much time had passed with Aurelia in Achleva. In fact, I became very accustomed to Aurelia as Emilia instead of herself. 

This being an ARC, there probably are details and some passages that will change from this version to the published book, out this coming Tuesday. My edition was missing supporting documents like the map, so I was unable to visually see Renault and Achleva. (Confession: I love maps and spend a lot of time pouring over them to compare the written journey with the depiction.)

Since I was thinking so much about the worldbuilding, I wouldn't say I'm fully clear on worldbuilding particulars like the history of being a blood mage, the history of Renault and Achleva, etc. I'm not sure whether that's a result of this ARC copy, the book itself, or me. Still, I would have liked to have a clear picture of those points because it seems to be super important later in the book. For example: I thought there were a number of interesting fantasy elements with not enough explanation -- witches, harbinger as ghosts, and "blood magic" vs other magic? Is all magic blood magic and there are some just places it's allowed? I thought there was a mention of other magics which we see a glimpse of with the mysterious fox. Also, the 500 year timeline and its relation to present characters was confusing, but without revealing key points, I can't muse further.

All in all, I enjoyed this read and spin on "The Goose Girl" retelling. It was creative and emotional, and despite some confusion over details, I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in the trilogy.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Stacking the shelves [348]


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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With one final ginormous push, I managed to get the last of my ALA Midwinter fallout into my Stacking the Shelves post over at Reading Reality. I never quite realize how big the stack is until I add in the cover pictures. The advantage of ebooks is that my office isn't crashing through the floor into the basement from the weight of all the books that have come in.

The disadvantage is that I don't realize how many have come in because I don't see them straining the shelves!

The teasers are below, but before I get to that, if you notice that the linkup is different, it's because the linkup is different. Inlinkz has discontinued the "classic" version we've been using since the dawn of the Stack, and replaced it with this new Link Party thing.

It is what it is.

And now back to our regularly scheduled beautiful book covers!









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Inlinkz Link Party

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [347]


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'm still working on so many books from ALA Midwinter that I'm able to prep this post a week ahead. Which is a good thing, as when you read this I'll have just gotten home after a red-eye flight from California and will hopefully catching up a bit on my sleep. (Unlike my husband, I can't sleep sitting up so I don't sleep on long flights.)

The full stack is over at Reading Reality, and it's ginormous again. There is a LOT of reading in my future!

Meanwhile, here are a few of the really pretty covers from this stack...

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

After the Party by Cressida Connolly

The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

Paris 7 A.M. by Liza Wieland





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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [346]


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'm still in the midst of the month of ALA fallout, so I have books coming out of my ears! They'd be falling off of my shelves, but they're all ebooks. Our house would fall in if all my books were print!

My full stack is over at Reading Reality, and it's another big one. Maybe that should be "bigone" all one word. Like ginormous.

This week's teaser covers are for the books from this batch I'm most looking forward to sinking my reading teeth into. See what you think!

Jacked Cat Jive (Kai Gracen #3) by Rhys Ford

New Suns edited by Nisi Shawl

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3) by Alyssa Cole




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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: High fantasy
Hardcover: 466 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 10, 2018

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.

I am so thrilled Naomi Novik continued this same fairy-tale/mythology retellings that started with Uprooted, which I loved. Despite not being in the same quote series unquote, Spinning Silver is in the same vein without being in the same universe or style. Truly deserves the praise for being one of the best fantasy books of this year (and a recent 2019 YALSA Alex Award winner for the Best Adult Books for Teens!). 

It's not easy to get into as the pace is slow and the descriptions are fairly wordy, but that isn't to say that this is boring. It very much kept my attention through the creative events and threads that run through the stories of these three women: Miryem, Irina, and Wanda. Each time you think something could be wrapped up predictably, you're surprised to find the book has a lot more to go and you find you can't wait to discover where it will go. I thought it could be a mishmash of a few fairytales and legends like Beauty and the Beast, the Ice Queen, Scheherazade and the King, and most notably Rumplestiltskin. The words themselves seem to spin from silver and cold detachment of characters and scenery to gold with rich luster of intricate plot and detail and caring about all of the characters, even some of the "villains." There are some beautiful messages and themes in the story, some which are revealed to concern the Staryk king and Tsar Mirnatius. Others are that of family, loving the orphan, caring for the old and sick, honoring your servants, the dangers of greed...you could pick out a number of them.

While there are fantasy elements of the demon and the Staryk, the setting and character details pull from Russian, Polish, and Jewish culture. It delves into Anti-Semitic feeling with Jewish Miryem's family, who are taxpayers but haven't been paid. Russian Irina is the unbeautiful cloistered daughter of a lord. Polish Wanda is abused by her father and bereft of her mother. The real gem of this story is one of feminism, the power of women. All three women come together to embody a depth of great strength to save their families and their kingdom, whether by wiles and self-control, hard work and determination, or wisdom and courage.

I was very surprised (and pleased) by the ending, and sort of wanted it to keep continuing. Not that it wasn't wrapped up beautifully, but because it was so lovely, I wanted maybe an epilogue. Not your typical love story to highlight on this Valentine's Day, but falling in love with a great Galentine's fantasy is better!

Have you read it? What did you think?

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [345]


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 yet another ginormous stack over at Reading Reality. I'm still getting stuff from the ALA Conference last week, and it looks like I will be through the rest of the month!

And now, for the regularly scheduled teasers.

A Deceptive Devotion by Iona Whishaw

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

Mission: Her Defense by Anna Hackett

An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole




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Thursday, February 07, 2019

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Supernatural, Time Travel Fantasy
Hardcover: 481 pages
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release date: October 2, 2018

Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #4

Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.

Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.

Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated by haunting vintage photographs, now with the striking addition of full-color images interspersed throughout for this all-new, multi-era American adventure.


I'm not sure why, but I was super surprised when this book was announced. I guess I thought the series wouldn't be continuing after Library of Souls, but I've been waiting to read this book for months! Took me longer than I wanted but I finally did another readthrough of the first three before picking up this new novel. It's a new world finding peculiardom in America for Jacob and Miss Peregrine's peculiar children. For Jacob, this is a new set of conflicts and choices. Does he be normal? Does he be peculiar? It seems like his parents will not stand for both. At seventeen and after quite a period of absence for the events of the last couple books, Jacob has been back trying to force his life into his old-normal patterns, but his parents don't trust him and he cannot reconcile the knowledge of himself and his grandfather with his same-old.

Let's talk about his parents for a minute because Jacob has unusual parents for YA literature. 1) They're alive. 2) They don't have a relationship with their son. They do, and they make him do. The end.  3) They don't have relationships with their own parents, and in Grandpa Portman's case, there seems to be a great divide. 4) They believe everyone (except Grandpa) over their own son. This attitude gets worse, obviously, after Jacob's disappearance. It seems mind-boggling because he's 17 and they STILL never believe him. He's about to be an adult, and doesn't have a good track record for adult independence at 18. 5) Because of 4, they try to have him committed to a mental institution against his will. Usually this step is a last resort, and since he'll be 18 in a few months, this is the last time they can make this sort of step because after he's 18 and they try, the courts and law will get involved and things could get very ugly. 6) They are not described much in emotion, despite being well-drawn in facts. They're kind of bleh. Why does Jacob say he loves them because the reader hasn't been given anything to love about them, just pity or tolerate (see 3, 5). [Aside: Would you really having loving feelings toward your parents if they had you committed? I'm thinking no. Note to parents, probably don't be like Jacob's...]

This theme continues with the peculiar children under Miss Peregrine's care. How or why does Miss Peregrine not watch the children for signs of independence after all of their adventures? Every reader must have predicted this struggle. The children need to try out their adulting skills! Miss Peregrine is supposed to be good at taking care of children, and this is a key part of adolescent development (even if she's been watching over non-aging adolescents and children for years). She could be giving them space, but I think it's far more likely she's quite angry at their buck of parental supervision.

Those last couple chapters of the book came out of nowhere. It sort of made sense but...I found it less inventive and more horrifying since it takes us back to other terrible times to live in: the seedy grunge of American crime, though no mention of prohibition; corruption and white supremacy and racism of the South; gangs and gangsters and territorial fights. All of it makes you NEVER want to visit the American past. Instead we could've visited a loop from the Revolution or the Civil War. I am sad we missed out on these potentials. I wish there had been more descriptions with the American loops since we were back in the past. I had a hard time seeing the setting and just how different it was from our preconceived notions of the past.

Some random observations: My favorite part was the trip through Abe's house and his secrets. There was less of a connection to H to feel emotionally attached to him as Abe would. You'd think the "kids" would stop and get the hint to quit mentioning ymbrynes at whatever loops they visited! Noor! I really liked her even if her peculiarity was hard to grasp. It would be really hard to be in her situation. I liked Lily too. Moving on before any spoilers, this book had a few things I predicted (Emma/Jacob squabble -- relationships are never straightforward) and ended on a TOTAL CLIFFHANGER.

Mostly, there were a lot of questions I had at the end that don't get answered like:
FIONA?! WHERE IS FIONA? WHY are they not asking at every loop again? Because they're selfish and they forget?
Where's Nim? And the unnamed Bentham assistant? [Both of these are associated with the last book, Library of Souls.]
What about Horace's clue of Chinese food vs Contintental? This was not mentioned again.

These are a lot of questions and unknowns while waiting for yet another unknown: when will we get book 5? :'(