**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, January 31, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [144]

Stacking the Shelves

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!


Personally, I think January is a wonderful month for book lovers because there are so many great releases at the beginning of each year. I'm not a fan of the cold winter here in Northern Ontario, but it's pretty cozy when it's snowing outside and you find yourself reading in front of the fireplace. With a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Here are some of the books that caught my eye this January. There are plenty more that I've added to my list but I'm limiting myself to these for now!

jan 2015

For Review

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

(Check out the Brandon Sanderson giveaway posted earlier this month here)

From the library

Burned by Karen Marie Moning


First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

Forbidden by Kimberly Griffiths Little

Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock

Fairest: Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer (my reivew)

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

What did you add to your shelves this week?

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Shopping for a new horse should have been an uneventful event, but while visiting old friends of Charles, Anna and him stumble right into a fae mess. They must get involved because they targeted his friend's grandchildren, and nobody threaten children on Charles' watch.

It's been three years since the release of the previous book in the Alpha & Omega series, which is wayyyy too long if you ask me lol I love Charles and Anna and I am very happy I could finally visit them again. Briggs really has a talent for bringing a story to life, and even though I don't know a darn thing about horses, I still wanted to know which one Anna would choose in the end. Jokes aside, Dead Heat was another great installment in the series.

For unknown reasons, a fae held prisoner was released onto the world to wreck havoc. By inadvertence, he got tangled with the local alpha's family and the chase was thrilling. Anna's abilities to read and calm people and Charles fierceness work perfectly together to solve any mysteries they encounter. It's probably because Briggs' stories are always so engrossing, but her books always feel too short. I can't help but want more every time.

A & C are as amazing as ever, but one of the aspect I particularly liked was his interaction with his old friend. It was obvious he was dear to him and I felt his sorrow since he had to part from him. This story contained yet another trip to Charles' past and I always enjoy those, revealing more about the character.

The conclusion was heart-pounding and breath-taking. I loved every moment! I sincerely hope it won't take another three years before we get another Alpha & Omega book. If you haven't read Patricia Brigg's book yet, I strongly suggest you do, starting with Moon Called, the first book in this world (It's from the Mercy Thompson series).


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Compulsion by Martina Boone

Ohmygoodness I loved this book SO. MUCH.  I work in a teen section of a library, and I know I will be recommending this to so many teens!  Adults (such as myself) will enjoy this too.  It's very well written, with strongly developed characters and setting, and a rich plot that will leave you hooked through the very end.

The story focuses around Barrie, who has spent the first 17 years of her life very protected by her mother and godfather.  She rarely left her San Francisco home except for school, and her mother never left the house at all.  Now, because of her mother's untimely death and her godfather's severe illness, she is being sent to live with an aunt she's never met on a plantation she's never seen.  This plantation, off the coast of South Carolina, is full of family secrets and lore that will keep Barrie on her toes.

Compulsion is a Southern mystery, steeped in history and magic.  Barrie has always know that she was "different."  She feels a compulsion to find lost things and return them to their rightful owner.  She literally feels pressure in her head until she finds what was lost.  Upon arriving at Watson's Landing, she discovers an aunt, an uncle, and cousins that she never knew she had.  She also learns that her quirk is actually a gift that everyone in her family has.  And they're not alone:  the other side of the family has a curse, and another old family in town has a different gift.  It's hard to explain, but Martina Boone does the magical gifts in such a way that they're not heavyhanded or overexplained or overly relied upon by the characters.  It's like my inner voice was nodding and saying, "yes, yes... that makes sense.  Of course she can always find lost things."  It didn't feel like a stretch of the imagination at all to believe that families could pass along mystical gifts or curses the way other families pass along the gene for blue eyes.

The story behind the gifts and curse is revealed to Barrie pretty early in the book.  The mysteries as to why the families are feuding, and why none of them seem able to leave the island, and why the plantation homes are falling apart... well, those are another story.  These, too, are very well done.  I was kept guessing (and riveted!) right up to the very end.  Even though it's been announced that this is the first book in a trilogy, don't fear:  nearly all of your questions will be answered.

I want to talk about the setting!  Old South; plantation homes.... I could hear the honey-thick accents of all the characters!  I could feel the humidity!  I could picture the long driveways lined with massive oaks dripping with Spanish moss!  (Can you tell that I live in and love the south?)  I dreaded coming to the end of Compulsion, and already can't wait to go back to Watson's Landing in the sequel.

Lastly, are you a reader who needs a sweet Southern romance to round out the story?  Never fear!  Barrie has an irresistible neighbor, who always seems to know just how to please her.  There's no messy love triangle here; Barrie (and I) fall head over heels for Eight.  Their relationship is far from syrupy sweet; it's real and it's sometimes rough and it feels like it has it's base firmly in friendship.  I love Barrie and Eight together, and hope to see their relationship deepen further in the next book.

The magic, the mystery, and the setting have me completely sold on Compulsion.  I also think it'd be a fantastic movie... (hint, hint Hollywood!) and I'm impatiently waiting for Persuasion, the next book in the trilogy.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

In The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson takes us to a time and place that might have been.  In this telling, the United States of America has become the United Isles of America.  The reason for them being islands isn't immediately clear in this, the first book of the series.  North America seems to be broken up differently and the influences Europe had over the development of some areas is markedly different.  With that, the more striking difference between their reality and ours is the rithmatists.  They are able to use geometric shapes  and lines to influence the world around them and to create two dimensional constructs to do handle minor tasks.  Rithmatists are selected at 8 years old and trained to use rithmatics.  A large part of their training seems to be combat related.

The main character, Joel, is a young man who is very knowledgeable in the was of rithmatics.  He does not, however, have the ability to use rithmatics.    To make matters worse for Joel, he goes to a top rated school full kids of some of the wealthiest and most influential families.  I like the character and his humble approach.  Often we're given these characters with a chip on their shoulder but, not this time, not really.  I also like the character of his classmate Melody.  She sometimes comes off as a little bipolar at times but, there a certain honesty to her character.  The rest of the characters often don't measure up to these two.  Some characters a little light in development and a few are almost caricatures of the role they play in the story.  I was a little surprise to see that in a Sanderson book.  Most of his principle characters have sufficient depth to them.  He didn't always hit the mark in this book.

The story itself is strong and the world in which it occurs is intriguing.  I like steampunk used in real world design as well as in story settings.  Brandon Sanderson has managed to use it here in a way that isn't over the top but, still get that style-sense across.   The book uses some well known tropes throughout.  Some seemed a little too familiar to me.  I still stay true to my there's nothing new under the sun attitude but, I believe authors should be very careful not to get too close other literary properties when courting the same type readers.  I'll just say that a few times when the word "rithmatic" showed up the word "arithmancy" echoed in my head.

This is a very interesting read.  For teens, it shows promise to be an excellent series for them to follow.  The world and magic system Brandon Sanderson has built with this one is still a bit incomplete at this point but, there is great potential there.  There is some mild violence and no sexual content so, I give  this a PG rating for sure.  I'll be watching for the next in this series in the future!

Roberts Signature


Monday, January 26, 2015

Giveaway: Half Bad by Sally Green

In order to celebrate the new paperback release of HALF BAD, the people at Penguin are offering a wonderful prize pack in anticipation of the sequel, HALF WILD, which will be out March 24, 2015!

Here's a bit more about the two books:

half bad

He has a powerful Gift. It’s how he uses it that will show if he’s good or bad.

 In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

Stéphanie's thoughts on the book

half wild

"You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad."

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he’s on the run–but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.

The Half Bad trilogy has been translated into 47 languages. TIME Magazine calls it “highly entertaining and dangerously addictive.” Kate Atkinson says it’s ”brilliant and utterly compelling.” London’s Daily Telegraph has named author Sally Green “the new J.K. Rowling.” Discover the story that readers all over the world are raving about.

About the author

Writer Sally Green Photo by Mark AllanSally Green lives in north-west England. She has had various jobs and even a profession, but in 2010 she discovered a love of writing and now just can’t stop. She used to keep chickens, makes decent jam, doesn't mind ironing, loves to walk in Wales even when it's raining, and will probably never jog again. She really ought to drink less coffee. Half Bad is her first novel.

WebsiteTwitter | Wattpad

Photo credit: Mark Allen


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Enter for your chance to win paperback copy of HALF BAD and for an awesome branded tumbler and hot chocolate.

Prizing & samples courtesy of Penguin

Giveaway open to US addresses only

Open until February 10th, 2015

Fill form below to enter:

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Fairest: Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer

Fairest has been one of my most anticipated books of 2015. That and the final book of the series which is coming out fall 2015. Marissa Meyer keeps wowing me with every new book she writes. Although Fairest is more of a novella than a novel, it's longer than most novellas and long enough to give us a good analysis of Levana, the lunar Queen that reader love to hate.

As far as antagonist origin stories go, this one is pretty toxic and twisted. It introduces us to a sad and pathetic Levana, and honestly, after reading all those awful things about her in the other books, I never thought I would actually pity her. Her loveless childhood is probably the reason she is the way she is now. Being raised with no real affection from her parents is probably the reason why, as a queen, she wants the love of all her people. We see her transition from a pathetic teenager looking for love in the wrong places, to a Queen that wants the be the fairest of them all.

As Queen, she really wants the best for her people but in trying to achieve too much, she's running out of resources. That's why she turns to earth and we finally learn the origin of letumosis, a deadly disease the people of Luna are immune to but that is deadly to the people of Earth. The beastly soldiers the scientists are building for Luna are also introduced, but we don't actually get to meet any of them. As far as Evil Queens go, Levana's probably not the worse one out there. She really thinks she's doing the right thing for her subjects, but she's definitely going about it the wrong way. She wants to be loved by all her subjects, probably because she suffers from low self esteem and is trying to compensate by getting what she never got from her parents. I get that she suffered a horrible accident as a child that left her scared and disfigured but frankly, she is very good at glamour and can look like anyone she wants. Still, the illusion of beauty isn't enough for her. The things she does are truly evil, but to her, they are just means to an end. I shiver at all the evil things she did. In a way, I understand why she did them all, but I still don't agree with her reasoning

Timeline-wise, this story begins before Cinder was ever born so I guess it can be seen as a prequel to Cinder but honestly, I think everyone should read this after the three full length novels that were published prior to this one. I think the author made the right decision in not sharing too much information about Levana in the previous books, keeping her a mystery as long as possible. Now is the perfect time to publish Levana's story, right before the full length novel about Winter, Levana's stepdaughter, is released in the fall. I can't wait to find out more about Winter and to see how all the other characters live's unravel.

Read an excerpt

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Giveaway: The Zombie Combat Field Guide by Richard Ma


The lovely folks at Penguin have offered up one copy of THE ZOMBIE COMBAT FIELD GUIDE:  A COLORING AND ACTIVITY BOOK FOR FIGHTING THE LIVING DEAD by Roger Ma! 

Here's the scoop on the book:

The Zombie Combat Field Guide by Roger MaThe Zombie Combat Manual provided potential zombie fighters with comprehensive instructions on how to do battle in the inevitable outbreak of an undead plague. However, even the most comprehensive advice is useless without study and practice.

Thus, the Institute for Undead Combat Studies has created an essential field handbook to help combatants of the walking dead hone their fighting skills, ensuring maximum preparedness for the zombie apocalypse. This interactive guide includes:

- Detailed technique illustrations, anatomical diagrams, and zombie combat drawings you can color

- Puzzles and brain exercises to help remember key combat terminology

- Work pages on making the right choices during an undead outbreak

- and much more!

Anyone can become an effective warrior against the walking dead. Make sure you’re ready to fight when the time comes—or prepare to join the zombie horde...

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository


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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [143]

Stacking the Shelves

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!


Eventually, my workload will ease up enough for me to get back into a broader selection of reading materials.  For now, I'm down to the essentials.

Atrocity Archives Firefight Reckoners Brandon SandersonI TheMartianbyAndyWeir

As far as Firefight by Brandon Sanderson goes, for now I'll only say, I'm still a big fan.

I finally got to see what all the fuss was about The Martian by Andy Weir was all about.  I can unreservedly report, it's not hype it's real.  All the good things I heard this book are true.  I heard some speculation about a sequel.  A part of me hopes that doesn't happen for fear of ruining such a good thing.

Like I said in my review, I really wanted to like The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross.  There was just something missing throughout the book and some of the "tech-speak" was a bit thick and little shaky in some spots.  There is an awesome story there but, the delivery was a little hit and miss.


It just wouldn't be a Stacking the Shelves by Robert without a little Harry Dresden in the mix.  I almost wonder what I'll do once I've finished the series.  Maybe some of you can give me an idea for an established series that I can pick up on!  In the mean time, I'll continue my journey with Chicago's only openly practicing wizard.

Even with this small selection, I've managed to go from the wind swept plains of Mars to the Windy City.  Tell us, what strange places have you taken your shelves?

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

The only survivor of her race, Nalia was captured and sold on the black market to become Malek's personal jinni. He mistreated her, hurt her, and yet he is craving her affection. Meanwhile, the leader of a rebel group who clearly hates her is trying to recruit her services to save the oppressed jinnis back in Arjinna. Could he also claim her heart in the process, or will Malek earn the privilege?

Right from the start I'll tell you I have mixed feelings about this novel, and unfortunately for me I can't really pin-point the more negative elements. It took me 3 weeks to read this novel. That's A LOT of time. At times, I thought that I should just give up, but I really wanted to know how the story would end, so I soldiered on. But the weirdest thing is I don't know why I was dragging my feet.

The Jinni theme and the 'For fans of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy' bit was what first made me request this book, and really I enjoyed the lore and the world. It's my first jinni book, and probably not the last since they seem to be popping left and right, but I loved the rich exotic culture Demetrios infused to the story. The middle-east atmosphere (even though the action takes place in Hollywood) was really refreshing. The author did a really great job introducing the jinni's world, their way of living, their culture and gods and the animosity between the dead royalty and the cerf population.

The magic was probably my favorite element. There are four jinni races (pr class if your into RP) and each has an affinity with an element: earth, air, water and fire. Nalia, being royalty, has affinity with all four. I liked that different things could be done with different element and that the wish each jinni could grant was limited by their elemental powers.

The characters were great as well. I liked Nalia and her determination and her dedication to her brother. She is the new Empress because all the royalty died, but she's not interested in power. I loved that she cared for the people around her, and appreciated the beauty of both worlds even though she was raised to think otherwise. Raif was a great prospect and I liked his strength and desire to do the right thing. And Malek, despite his being kind of a bad guy, really caught my attention. I'm convinced there is much more to him to discover and I kind of pitied him. He felt like a like boy craving for mommy's attention at time, despite the fact that he is one of the most influential being on the planet.

I think the one negative aspect I can think of is the pace. I liked almost everything in this book, even the romance, yet it felt like this book was never ending! So I guess it's the one aspect I would've changed.

If the sequel ends up on edelweiss I will read it, but I don't think I would buy it. This novel received a lot of praise, and really, I liked most of it, so you should definitely give it a try. Jinni are definitely a new trend, and this novel is as good a place to start as any :)


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Daring by Elliott James

Daring is the sequel to Charming, of the Pax Arcana series.  You can see Jenn's review of Charming HERE.  I totally, 100% agree with her enthusiastic praise of Charming.  And I, too, couldn't wait to get my hands on Daring.  I was on my library's request list for it before the release date!  I wasn't surprised to find myself in love with Daring, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved it for very different reasons.

So far, this series has been my first and only foray into adult urban fantasy, but I'm so glad that I've found this genre!  The main character, John Charming, has been dealt a rather hard hand in life.  He comes from a long line of Charmings who are all Knights Templar, tasked with slaying monsters and dragons.  In this modern age, the Knights Templar keep the busiest making sure that regular folks like you and I don't encounter any nasty creatures like vampires or werewolves.  Unfortunately, he was cursed from birth by a werewolf's bite.  So what do you do when you're under a magical geas (compulsion) to fight creatures like werewolves... but yet, you are part werewolf?

While Charming shows the Knight side of John, Daring lets the reader get to know John's werewolf side.  He's left his bar in Virginia and joined a werewolf pack in Wisconsin.  If you're a fan of the supernatural, this book is definitely for you!  Nearly the entire book follows werewolves as they work with a wizard to battle immortal Knights Templar.  The author does a fantastic job with the narration; I really felt like I was in John Charming's head the entire time.  I love how smoothly James Elliott works in explanations for all the supernatural phenomena, and how the Knights Templar manage to keep regular folks from seeing any of it.  The reader gleans a ton of information as John explains situations to other characters, or as he thinks through solutions to problems or threats, without ever feeling "preached to," and with little or no break in the action.  Another bonus:  John's characteristic humor is present in full force in this book too!  A little bit dry, and sometimes self-deprecating, it kept me smiling throughout the novel.  However, if you're looking for the same swoons from Charming, you may be slightly disappointed.  Daring focuses entirely on John and his mission with the werewolf pack.  I didn't even think about romance (or the lack thereof), because I was so caught up with the action.  This one is just more action-packed and less smooches-packed than the first installment.

I'm not sure if this is in every edition, but my copy had an "Extras" section at the end that contained the first few chapters of the third book!  While you could possibly read Daring on it's own, my recommendation would be to start with Charming for maximum enjoyment.  Then you can join me in waiting impatiently for the third book!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Atrocity Archives (A Laundry Files Novel) by Charles Stross

Here is yet another of my more odd-ball choices.  I found this on sale and thought it was the blend for me: spies, tech and magic.  How could I go wrong.  Even the main character's name is Robert, what could be better.  Bob is an IT professional who gets himself drawn into the darker side of the spy game.  This side has demons, monsters and magic.  As the story begins, Bob not only wants to be part of the agency he was coerced into joining, now he wants to do field work.

The setting for the story is London, which was another draw for me.  There something special about having a story about monsters and magic taking place in a city that old.  It brings to mind old castles and towers haunted by history.  Unfortunately, this book didn't take too much advantage of that and at points almost could have been set in any city.  This book is actually two separate stories both of which are set primarily in London.   Both stories are well rounded enough and have good pacing.  It's easy to tell from a tech standpoint that the story is a few years old as some of the references quite dated but, most hold up well enough.  The book seems to set out to explain the fundamentals of it's magic system.  This results in the use of a lot of terminology that mixes magic and mythology with modern tech and tech theory. I thought that the main character of Bob was well developed but, then again, this is told in first person so, that was easy enough to handle.

Most of the characters are well placed and seem to have purpose In the story.  Many lack any significant development but, it's hard not to attribute that to the fact that most are spies or operatives.  I never got an accurate enough picture of Bob's roommates.  I'm sure they were described at some point but, it left no lasting impression on me.   This is the first book of the series so, maybe there was more done with these in later stories. This was a book that when I saw it, I thought I may have found myself a new series to follow (I've passed the halfway point of the Dresden Files).  Unfortunately ,  I don't think this is it. The first thing that struck a wrong cord with me was the use of a lot of heavy tech-terms.  For me, if overdone, it makes it difficult to follow and stay engaged in the story.  Some of the second tier characters could have used a bit more build up to give the story a little more fullness.

Overall, this was just okay for me.  I truly wanted it to be more than it turned out to be.  Maybe, it the second book goes on sale, I'll pick that one up.  If you decide to pick this one up be aware that it's definitely in the R rating zone for the violence and a mediocre sex scene. Roberts Signature

Giveaway: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Random House is generously offering copies of Steelheart and Firefight by Brandon Sanderson to celebrate the release of Firefight on January 6th!  Here's a bit more about Firefight:

Firefight Reckoners Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is back with a vengeance in FIREFIGHT, the follow up to the #1 New York Times bestselling Steelheart. In the book that Kirkus Reviews is calling a “rare middle volume that keeps the throttle open,” Sanderson takes readers on another a thrill ride and “presents a Marvel Comics-style mix of violently destructive battles, fabulous feats and ongoing inner wrestling over morality and identity.

David Charleston still can’t believe it. Steelheart is dead, and he died by David’s own hand. Even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic, but the invincible has fallen and now Newcago is free. Despite attaining revenge for the murder of his father and living his dream as a team member of the most elite Reckoners cell, David finds he has more questions than ever before, and he won’t find the answers in his home city.

Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as Manhattan, could hold the key. Ruled by the mysterious and ambivalent High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is a place flooded with water and painted in neon, where the inhabitants spend most of their days lounging and nights partying. David can’t seem to understand the complacency of the city and its residents, but what he does understand is that being positioned here, risky as it may be, could lead him to the answers he so desperately seeks. Because there is an emptiness in him, one left behind after killing Steelheart, that was filled unexpectedly by Firefight, who is just plain Megan to him. And David will stop at nothing to find a way to understand Epics and bring her back to him. Hopefully for good this time.

The second book in the Reckoners series and follow up to the highly acclaimed Steelheart, which Publishers Weekly called “an absolute page-turner,”FIREFIGHT is filled with spine-tingling adventure and heart-racing action that promises to satisfy fans both new and old.

More About Author Brandon Sanderson:

BRANDON SANDERSON is the author of the internationally bestselling Mistborn trilogy. In 2007, he was chosen to complete Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series following the author’s death.  The concluding book in that series, A Memory of Light, was released on January 8, 2013, and debuted at #1 on the New YorkTimes Hardcover Fiction List., just as his two previous Wheel of Time books had done.  His work has been published in over 25 languages and his books have sold millions of copies worldwide. He lives and writes in Utah.

Website | Twitter


Read an excerpt from Firefight!


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Enter for your chance to win copies of Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart and Firefight for an epic reading experience.

Prizing & samples courtesy of Random House

Giveaway open to US addresses only

Open until February 4th, 2015

Fill form below to enter:

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"When I'm not writing" with Leah Petersen

Leah Petersen

 Today I'm very excited to bring you a When I'm Not Writing post by Leah Petersen.  I love "discovering" local authors, so I was immediately interested when I read that she's a fellow North Carolinian.  I also love a quote that she has on her blog:  "Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.  -Richard Feynman (1918-1988)"  A young author who thinks physics is for fun?  I'm totally on board!  Now over to Leah, and what she's up to when she's not writing!

When I'm Not Writing Marie

When I’m not writing, you might find me knitting. I picked up the hobby years ago as something productive to do with my hands, something I could point to and say, “See, I did that!” (This was before I wrote my first novel, but, seriously, I could knit a dozen pairs of socks in half the time it takes just to vomit out the first draft of any novel.)

One thing I love about knitting is that it’s very meditative. It’s just distracting enough that it tunes out all the stress and anxiety, but it allows room for daydreaming, plotting—books, not world domination—and just finding the beauty in life. I love to knit outside on a lovely day. Pretty much any time I sit down and my hands aren’t otherwise occupied, (oh if only I could knit and type at the same time!) I grab the latest project and knit away. It also makes me feel virtuous about any TV watching.

A surprising benefit to knitting is the friendships it seems to start. I learned a while ago that knitting for my family was an exercise in futility. Partly because I’m not the greatest at sizing, and partly because all the fun stuff I find I want to knit is usually for girls and my daughter is picky as heck. So my usual projects are hats and gloves, and lately socks. The beautiful thing about those is I can just give them away when I’m finished. And not as gifts, just give them away.

I’ve done this several times at conventions. I’ll bring or knit up a few Jayne hats while I’m there, and just randomly offer them to people I might strike up a conversation with. I had a great experience with this at one convention where I’d knitted a child-sized hat. A family was passing my publisher’s booth and I offered it to the two year old. She loved it. Her mother sent me a few pictures later of her randomly wearing it as she played around the house. That was such a great feeling.

On other occasions I’ve done a little work on request and it’s always been satisfying. I knitted a custom pair of gloves for an acquaintance who had lost a finger, fixed a young cousin’s favorite sweater, made a Dr. Who scarf for a Whovian friend, and made a couple of pieces for a friend who wanted to cosplay a character who wore a distinctive hat and scarf. Then there was the time I gave the pair of gloves I was wearing to someone in our group who was clearly colder than I was. She was so sweet and such a skinny little thing I figured she needed them more than I did, so I told her to keep them. A year later when I ran into her again, she was wearing them.

Learning to knit has been one of the best things I ever did. It’s not difficult once you get the hang of it, it’s productive, it’s a great way to clear your mind or to focus on something you actually want to think about. It makes good use of otherwise “idle” time like reading or watching TV. It’s been altogether lovely and when I’m not writing, it’s a great way to gear up for the next time.


Thanks so much for visiting us, Leah! For more about Leah and her books, check out the following links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Here's the scoop on Impact Velocity:

Impact Velocity Physics of Falling Leah PetersenJake has finally found peace and a family with the man he loves. But when the unimaginable happens, Jake finds himself on the run with his greatest enemy and the man who betrayed them both.

If he can’t find a way to bring down the man who now wields the power of an emperor, he’ll lose not just his own life, but his daughter’s as well.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

And here's where it all began:

Fighting Gravity Physics of Falling Leah PetersenCascade Effect Physics of Falling Leah Petersen


Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favorite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit  us? Please email me at marieharris725 (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Half Bad by Sally Green

I've been thinking about this review for a while now. Although I did like the novel because it's easy to read and the characters are likable, I'm on the fence about this one. I think I read it so fast because I kept thinking something BIG was going to happen, but it feels like nothing ever did. Except maybe in the last 30 pages or so.

On the surface, it's a very simple "boy vs the world" type of story but as you start to piece everything together, the novel is actually quite twisted. Overall, Sally Brown created a very dark and twisted world. In her magical world, witches live within the human society and the humans unaware of their existence. They govern themselves with a Council and as we learn more and more about the main character, Nathan, we slowly realize that this Council is just a bunch of fanatics that want to rid the world of Black Witches. Nathan is actually half White and half Black, and ever since he was born, he's been discriminated against because of his Black Witch father. Nathan has never met his father, yet other witches fear him because they assume he will grow up to be as evil as his father.

One of my major issues with Half Bad is its predictability and the fact that nothing much happens. Much of the book is about Nathan's upbringing. This book is very much like a superhero's origin story. The only way to completely understand Nathan's motives is to know about his childhood, but beyond his character's history, there isn't much of a story. Everything leads up to Nathan's 17th birthday because that is the day a witch is supposed to receive three gifts from one of his or her parents or grandparents, and drink their blood. This allows a witch to receive their "Gift", their one magical ability that defines them as a witch.

Personally, I think Nathan doesn't really help his case because he doesn't really go a long with the Council's wishes. He could have done exactly what they were expecting from a White Witch and his life could have been simpler and he could have avoided a lot of pain and suffering. Honestly, I'm not quite sure why he ends up in a cage. He didn't really do anything that bad, yet he's sentenced to suffering no teenager should endure. Nathan is quite a refreshing character since he's not your poster boy hero. He's awful in school. He's not really a great brother or grandson. He runs off to live and sleep in the woods countless times. He doesn't have much going for him yet he finds the strength to keep going.

Besides Nathan, I found all the other characters superficial. Some of them played a major roles yet weren't detailed enough, in my opinion. For example, Nathan's love interest, Annalise leaves much to be desired. The romance between the two is foolish and almost non existent. There's just nothing there! But Nathan would do anything for this girl. Annalise is simply boring, and it's kind of sad to say, but I really don't care what happens to her. I do love the relationship Nathan has with his brother Arran, however. The two youngest of the family, they get along quite well, and I love how Arran stands up for his little brother, when pretty much everyone else hates him for just being half Black. As for the many antagonists, it's easy to hate them all because they've always been against Nathan and they've all done horrible things to him, but I just wish we could understand their side of the story a little bit more. Are they really so much against Nathan because of half of his biology? Don't they have any hope that with a proper upbringing, the son of a killer could turn out to be normal?

I still don't know what to make of this novel. On one hand, I enjoyed reading it because it felt so natural. Nathan, as a narrator, was so easy to follow and I loved his no nonsense outlook on life. On the other hand, the story felt a little too fake and somewhat forced. It fell short of my expectations, especially since there was so much hype surrounding the book when it first came out. I'll be checking out the rest of the series, especially since the release date of the next book is right around the corner, but instead of purchasing the book, I might just borrow it from the library.

stephsig moon

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves

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!


Happy 2015, everyone!  This is my first Stacking the Shelves in this new year, and it seems that old habits die hard:  I am once again continuing to bring home lots of books from the library where I work before I finish reading the tbr stack already beside my reading armchair!  A small portion of my stack can also be attributed to Christmas.  People know that I'm a reader and I receive books!

All Fall Down Ally Carter Life Unaware Cole Gibsen How (Not) to Fall in Love Lisa Brown Roberts Cage Megan Shepherd Circa Now Amber McRee Turner

ARCs and egalleys for review:

All Fall Down by Ally Carter: I love her Heist Society series, so I'm excited to try her newest series!

Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen.

How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts.

The Cage by Megan Shepherd:  I LOVE LOVE LOVE her Madman's Daughter books, so of course I have to jump at the chance to read and review her new series!  It's sci-fi, so it'll be totally different from the Madman's Daughter.

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner: this looks like a cute middle grades book.  If it's any good, I'll be able to pass it along to a niece!

Scintillate Tracy Clark Napolion's Pyramids William Dietrich Food Jim Gaffigan Mitford Bedside Companion Jan Karon Book Cuffs & Ear Warmers Deborah Molnar Children of Hurin J.R.R. Tolkien

New Books:

Scintillate by Tracy Clark: I bought this one for my Kindle.  I think this was only my second purchase for my Kindle... (I use it for egalleys and not much else.)  How do ya'll feel about buying ebooks?  I still feel a little weird paying for something so ephemeral.  When I buy  a book, I want to hold it and smell it and put it on a shelf.

Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich: My dad passed this one along to me.  I have no clue what it's about, but he said it was pretty good.

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan:  The hubby and I love watching Jim Gaffigan's stand-up, and I'm hoping his book is just as funny.

The Mitford Bedside Companion by Jan Karon: A Christmas gift from my mom.  We love Mitford!

Boot Cuffs & Ear Warmers by Deborah Molnar: Another Christmas gift from my mom.  I've already started crocheting an Irish Sea ear warmer!

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien:  Ok, so this was actually a Christmas gift that the hubby received, but it's in our house and I'll read it too.  So it goes in the stack!

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Peter Boxall New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook Ellen Brown Sheet Pan Suppers Molly Gilbert Fifty Shades Freed E.L. James Modern Crochet Molla Mills Inheritance Christopher Paolini Letters From Father Christmas J.R.R. Tolkien

Library (This is my kryptonite... the books are free!  How am I supposed to resist bringing home free books?!?)

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die edited by Peter Boxall.

The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown: The hubby gave me a cast iron skillet for Christmas, and I'm super excited to try all kinds of yummy skillet dishes... like brownies.  I hear that you can make ooey gooey brownies in cast iron skillets...

Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert.

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James: This is actually on CD for my commute!  I'm listening to Fifty Shades Darker right now and blushing through rush hour.  But I am too curious; I must find out what happens to Ana.

Modern Crochet by Molla Mills.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini:  This is on CD too.  I'm conflicted:  I want to find out what happens, but I'm not sure I want the series to end!

Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien:  I brought this one home over Christmas.  The hubby and I are big Tolkien fans, and neither of us had heard of this until this year!  Shame on us.  It's wonderful.  My library had it shelved in Juvenile; it's a collection of all these sweet letters that Tolkien wrote to his kids over the years under the guise of Father Christmas, and they also include these delightful drawings and paintings that Tolkien did to accompany the stories he tells in the letters.  The hubby and I enjoyed a couple letters a day during the Christmas week.

Naturals Jennifer Lynn Barnes Throne of Glass Sarah J. Maas

Bookish Secret Santa

This year I also participated in a bookish Secret Santa exchange, and my Secret Santa sent me The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.  I haven't read either one yet, but I'm going to soon!

What about you?  What books are  stacked on your shelf at the start of 2015?


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Friday, January 16, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The official summary is a great introduction to the world, so I won't bother writing one. I don't really agree with the Graceling comparison though (can't comment about The Selection, I haven't read it). The only point it has in common with Graceling is people having special abilities. But in Red Queen, the abilities are a lot more like wielding magic, rather than being extraordinarily talented for something AND the range of possible abilities isn't as wide and is much more predictable then in Graceling. So yeah, The Graceling mention played it's part - it got me to request the book - but it's not a fitting description.

Red Queen is a fantastic debut novel! I really thought I had it all figured out. Poor girl meets rich boy, rich boy pities her and helps her, turns out he is a prince, they marry and she becomes queen. TA-DAM! ... NOT. The strongest and most important element of Red Queen is its unpredictability. 'Anyone can betray anyone' is a motto mentioned many times in the novel, and it's probably the most important and representative sentence of Red Queen. You can never take anything for granted while reading or it'll bite you, just like the characters.

I liked Mare even though she was a little naive despite all the warnings. I understand that she finds herself in a very difficult situation, away from her family, submerged in a world she knows nothing about and had to lie through her teeth for survival, but unfortunately she hangs onto the wrong buoy, hoping not to drown. Cal isn't perfect, and I like that he did his best to serve his people the only way he knew how. I just wished he was a little more daring and courageous in the end. Maven is one cryptic character and I'll have to let you figure him out for yourself!

Victoria tried to play the love triangle trend and it didn't quite work. Mare has a bit of a crush on Cal at first and then finds herself betrothed to Maven. She isn't really in love with neither boys, and use them both to her advantage. There is also a childhood friend orbiting around her, that might have been an option, but nothing major there either. I didn't really care for the romance for that reason, but it might work better in the next installment.

My favorite aspect is by far the lore. I love how social ranking is determined by blood color (reds are slave and silver the elite) and their respective powers. The world is set in a future in which we've destroyed each other in wars and the new world is a blend of great technology and great poverty. The difference between both world is incomparable.

I enjoyed the plot line full of twist and turns, keeping me engaged until the very end. I particularly liked the final battle and I can't wait for the second installment. I want to know what awaits Mare now that so many secrets have been revealed. I strongly suggest you get your hands on this debut!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Scintillate by Tracy Clark

Scintillate manages to pack an action- and romance-filled punch into this YA trilogy-starter!  Are you a fan of fantasy, especially concerning auras?  Got it.  Are you a fan of romance, and need your main characters to be not only smoking hot but also have sexy accents and have stolen kiss moments?  Got it.  Are you a fan of action and adventure, especially when it involves travel?  Got it too!

At the heart of the matter, Scintillate is the story of Cora, who after an intense illness is able to see auras around people.  This is all very new to her, so she tries to seek answers from doctors and then from a New Age bookseller.  Her dad, who is a scientist and very cold-hard-facts oriented, tries to discourage her from pursuing any information on this new "talent" of hers.  I think this is the first book I've read where aura reading has played such a key role.  I think Tracy Clark did a great job showing how overwhelming this ability could be, at least at first.  In the first couple of days, Cora has difficulty maintaining eye contact and feels like the visuals are overstimulating.  I imagine I would also feel out of sorts if I suddenly started seeing auras around everyone!  There's a lot of neat descriptions that accompany this whole aura-seeing thing.  Beautiful descriptions of warm, sunny auras around good people and angry, red, pulsing auras around the bad guys, and everything in between.  Almost made me wish I could see auras!

I know the love triangle is much maligned these days, but I still kind of enjoy it.  Especially when it's done well.  And I know from working with teens in a library that many teens still seek out swoons in their books!  Scintillate takes it all up a notch by adding foreign hot love interests for Cora!  Oooh.... I could just hear the accents leaping off the page!  There's Finn, who is Irish and Giovanni, who is Italian.  No wonder Cora has trouble deciding!

And last but not least, Scintillate definitely doesn't disappoint in the action & adventure arenas.  Cora, a California girl, is taken on a wild chase to Ireland as she searches for her mother (who disappeared 12 years ago) and more information about her newfound ability to see auras.  It's nonstop!  From the very first pages, the reader is kept on the edge of their seat as Cora narrowly escapes harm.  In fact, my only tiny gripe with Scintillate is the pacing:  for me, it felt a little too fast; like the author tried to fit in a little too much.  But I really can't say much; the book definitely hooked me and didn't let go until the very end!  Even if a few plot points were a little too convenient or tidy, it's still enjoyable.

A final bonus point:  #diversityinYA!  Cora was born in Ireland to an Irish mother and Chilean father.  She is described as curvy with wild curly hair.  Yay for diversity in YA!  (I know that the hand on the book cover is decidedly white.  Cora is also described as being Irish-fair, so this is still true to the book.)

In early March, I'll be reviewing the sequel, Deviate, and hosting Tracy Clark for a When I'm Not Writing post.  I'm so glad that I don't have to wait a full year to find out what happens next with Cora!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson

What do you do once the bad guy is gone.  How do you teach a population to take charge of their own destiny.  How do you convince them they should?  These some of the questions that are brought up in this, the book between the  books.   Mitosis also gives us an opportunity to spend a little time with David and the team of Reckoners he is a part of while they deal with yet another Epic.  Can you guess the Epic's name? Yep, Mitosis.  This winds up being more than just a story of how to rid a city of an overbearing super-human.  This story is a beginning.  This is the beginning a new city and a new society.

Brandon Sanderson, as always, does a masterful job of not just telling the story but, bringing it to life.  Like making the perfect martini, blending science-fantasy with real world concepts to the point of near believability is more than art, it's a craft.  Mr. Sanderson uses one of my favorite devices in this endeavor: anecdote as allegory.  Some book series do an excellent job of illustrating that world's political intrigue with nuanced conversation and clever manipulation.  Sanderson uses things like a hot dog.  It may not be the most elegant way to impart information but it does start to pin point some of the problems and supposed solutions to the situation David finds his city in.

Most of the characters we loved from Steelheart are back.  There wasn't much need for development.  For me, it was like seeing how an old friend was doing.  The one who does show a bit of maturing is, of course, our hero, David.  The rest of the crew is a bit older than he is so, for him to be on the steepest learning curve only makes sense.

I think this is a very worthy addition to the franchise.  More than that, I believe it helps the audience transition from Steelheart to Firefight.  The series reads well without it but, it reads much better with it. This is a YA book and I won't hesitate suggesting it to my teenage son.  There is some violence and some relationship discussions so, it is still in the PG-13 range.

Roberts Signature

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is the Anita Blake that I love reading about. The kick ass US Marshal Anita Blake that hunts serial killers with preternatural abilities and always comes out on top. In the last few books of the series we hadn't seen this side of Anita very much. She was more about keeping everyone around her safe from the supernatural bad guys by having sex with everyone that crossed her path. Mind you, I don't hate that part of Anita but I did miss the old Anita before she started having orgies.

Hit List  is pretty tame when in comes to sex, compared to some of the most recent Anita Blake novel. There is only one sex scene (and it's pretty normal!), although a few other scenes have some pretty heavy petting, and there are quite a few scenes where Anita takes the time to admire the men surrounding her. The fact that there is less sex is probably because Anita has gotten better at feeding the ardeur, that metaphysical sexual need she needs to feed in order to stay strong and to keep her safe. I hope this better control of the ardeur translates in the next books because I much prefer to read Anita when she's at her best.

There was also quite a bit of posturing and Anita defending her ability to be a good Marshall, despite the fact that she has a lot of "sweeties," as she calls them. I don't know how many times she had to defend herself and prove that she was able to do the job, despite how many men she was sleeping with. And how short and womanly she is. Honestly, if I crossed paths with someone that was actively sleeping with that many men, despite all their hotness, I think I would have a hard time taking her seriously. Personally, I think Anita spent way to much time explaining herself to everyone in this book. If felt like her little speech was on repeat.

One of the best part about this book is the fact that Edward, Bernardo and Olaf are all back. When those three US Marshals/mercenaries are present, things are bound to be interesting. In Hit List we see a different side of Edward, a more sentimental and emotional side of him. He reveals a little about himself, but for Edward, a little is a lot. Bernardo is always the same, never changing and always there to lighten the mood. But Olaf... what can I say. He's had a hard on for Anita ever since they met but coming from Olaf, that's a really bad thing. Anita doesn't know if he plans on killing her, raping her or just dating her. Bottom line, I think she just doesn't want to find out, if pushed, what Olaf would do.

Like all Anita Blake  books, this story ends really quickly. Once the conflict is resolved, everything unravels really quickly, almost too quickly there always seems to be missing a few pages. It's something I've gotten used to from Laurell K. Hamilton so I'm not really surprised, but sometimes I wish she would spend as much time on the last chapter as she does on a sex scene.

The Anita Blake that got me hooked on vampires and werewolves is back and I can't wait to read the next books. I've fallen quite a few books behind because of my lack of interest in the series, but since I've read so many book already, I can't just drop it now. I just have to accept this new Anita, not that the author makes it very hard with all the hot men she surrounds her with. For those of you who have a problem with this series like I do, do give Hit List a chance. The old Anita is back and she doesn't let anyone push her around!

stephsig moon

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

In the flurry of amazing books and review obligations, I didn't have a chance to chat about the second Finishing School book CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES but I love Gail Carriger's writing too much not to talk about the penultimate book in the series, WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY. If you're not familiar with the series, check out my review of the first book, ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE, which will give you an idea of the series.

In WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY, Sophronia is slightly more experienced but still in training at Mlle Geraldine's school, learning how to be an intelligencer of the highest order. I really enjoy the lessons that Sophronia receives, and the school in general, as it is so magnificently twee. This year's lessons include how to fight with a fan, which leads to a truly comical scene. But the heart of the books aren't the lessons - the heart is Sophronia and her friendships and personal growth. She's a delightfully protagonist and she becomes more confident and also more aware of her abilities and shortcomings with each page in the series and it's a pleasure to watch her grow.

Although we see growth and change in some areas, Sophronia is still very much the strong-minded girl that she was from the start of ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE, rebelling against the rules and forging her own path. She's maintained her close relationship with Soap, the sootie who works below stairs (insofar as a zeppelin can have a below stairs), despite the scandalous difference in their stations and the fact that he's black, but she's also formed a tight knit group of friends who are staunchly on her side, no matter what the danger. Dimity, Sidheag, and Agatha are such wonderful characters and the four girls form a marvellous band of opposites. Sophronia's ability and willingness to fly in the face of convention imbues all aspects of her life but it's most apparent in the fact that she treasures her friendships with people she "shouldn't" be friends with, and is willing to go to some lengths to keep these friendships, even when they take turns that make things a bit awkward, such as Soap's more overt romantic intentions. (Romance is not the main focus of the series but there are some romantic tensions, which are quite enjoyable since it's about the only thing that flusters Sophronia.)

WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY also advances a lot of the series plot threads, which is really exciting. We get some ideas about where Sophronia might end up after she graduates, and also see the true colours of some of the men/boys in her life. It was great to see all these developments, and I'm quite excited about where Sophronia will end up when the series draws to a close.

Read an excerpt


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [141]

Stacking the Shelves

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!


Hey guys! I hope you had happy holidays! My daughter brought gastro home from day care on the 23rd, my husband then got sick and finally me lol. So yeah, no parties for us!

On a more positive note, here are the books I got in the last month:



Revenant by larissa Ione
Pulse by Patrick Carman
City of a Thousand Dolls by Mariam Forster

For Review:

The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler
Becoming Jinn by Lori Coldstein
The Maze Runner (book and bluray) by James Dashner
Pirate's Alley by Suzanne Johnson

And here's my daughter making sure the books are good enough for mommy:


What did you add to your shelves?


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