**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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

The second book in the Firebird series by Claudia Gray, Ten Thousand Skies Above You is as confusing and as thrilling as the first book. It's not just a book about travelling and exploring different dimensions but it's also a love story and a mystery-thriller all at once. The first book of the series caught my attention because of it's amazing world-building and great story. This second one has me hooked because of all the new details added to dimension traveling and to the to the characters.

Often, book lovers tend to be disappointed with sequels because the first books always seem to be better. Everything is always so new, and fresh in the first book, that we can't help but be disappointed  with the sequel because the new factor isn't there anymore. In Ten Thousand Skies Above You, because we're constantly travelling in different worlds, and meeting new versions of the same people, things are always new and thrilling. I can't speak for everyone, but I love reading scenes where two characters meet for the first time. In this sequel, there are countless "new" meetings, and even if it makes things a little bit confusing, it's still very engaging.

This book follows Marguerite Caine through seven different multiverses (including her home world) where she takes "possession" of different version of her own body. Her main goal is to locate Paul Markov in four of these worlds since her "original" Paul Markov's soul was splintered into four different parts. This splintering was done purposely so that one of her enemies could blackmail her into doing  some of his dirty work. Because she loves Paul, Marguerite would do just about anything in order to save her version of him. By travelling in different multiverses, she discovers darker versions of her boyfriend, which leads her to guess some of Paul's dark secrets that he never talks about.

Despite very few scenes between Marguerite and her own version of Paul, I would definitely classify this book as a romance. Travelling through different worlds in order to save your boyfriend is pretty daring and courageous. Marguerite encounters many different problems, such as a medieval world, a war-torn America, Russian mobsters in New York and a dog-eat-dog futuristic world. However, the worse verse is probably the safest one where Marguerite's family hates Paul for what he's done to her. Despite the difficulties in each world, Marguerite is even more determined to make her relationship with Paul world. In every world, fate always seems to bring her and Paul together, and Marguerite is sure that this means they're destined to be together.

Despite Marguerite and Paul's relationship, Marguerite spends the whole book travelling with Theo, Paul's best friend and fellow PhD candidate. He also happens to be in love with Marguerite too, but would do anything to bring back Paul. However, his travelling with Marguerite isn't entirely selfless since he is also trying to gain access to a cure from from his condition that was caused by a drug called the Nightthief. That drug is used to help the multiverse traveller stay in charge of the host body, instead of having the original consciousness take over.

I love how the author created this world as if it's completely possible. The scientists that created the Firebirds, the devices that allow to travel between worlds, are very realistic. These scientists just happen to be Marguerite's parents. They're not your cold, heartless scientists, but wonderful and caring parents. They might not be the ideal role models with their eccentric parenting methods and ideas but they have a strong presence in Marguerite's life. It's nice to read a book where there's no angst between teens and parents. It's actually quite refreshing.

Overall, this sequel was wonderful and well written. Sure, it might be a young adult novel with a dreaded love triangle, but honestly you really can't make assumptions based on those two things. The storytelling is great, and obviously, with the seven multiverses in this book alone, the author has spent a great deal thinking and detailing her worlds. Any geek interested in alternate realities or fans of science fiction will enjoy this series. Incidentally, I'm not a big fan of the cliffhanger at the end of the book, but I can look passed that little annoyance...

stephsig moon

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Congo by Michael Crichton

The best way to find your way around a city is to be shown by somebody who was born there.  What if the city you're interested in is a 'lost city'?  That makes it interesting but, as Karin Ross and Peter Elliot come to find, it's not impossible.

I have long been a great fan of Michael Crichton and his pioneering use of the sub-genre of the Techno-thriller.  Much like many of his other works, in Congo, Crichton builds a scenario  where technology is the bait, the trap and possibly the means of escape for those who wish to employ it.  As formulaic as that sounds, Congo proves that it is anything but.  The story starts off as a quest that, as characters are brought in, becomes larger and more intricate.  This sort of layered progression keeps the pace of the story at a high tempo without feeling too exhausting.

This also accommodates the introduction and exposition of characters.  Crichton uses interpersonal interaction to show depth of the main characters very well.  It's a nice variation of the writers' adage 'Show, don't tell."  Witnessing a characters react in support of their motivation is more compelling even than that character stating their motivation.  We get to see the quite a bit in this book.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't point out there are some failings with some of the authors use of technology and tech terms.  I spend my days dealing with the very guts of the what makes modern technology work so, I tend to notice these things right away.  I won't go into detail but, suffice it to say, Mr. Crichton takes many liberties with technology and misuses a few terms throughout the book.  This is a book that was set and written in the late 1970's so, they probably could get away with those things more than they ever could today.  Besides, this is Sci-Fi in more ways than one, so, I usually just chalked some of those miscues to that side of it.

This is yet another "it's much better than the movie" stories. There is quite a bit of violence and language throughout the book so I think it should land in the safer section of PG13 rating.

Roberts Signature

Monday, December 28, 2015

Merlin by Stephen Lawhead

Soooo.... Merlin was not nearly as good as Taliesin. I gave Taliesin4 stars; I think Merlin will only get 3. It's far from being a bad book, but I may not be the right audience. Like Taliesin, it's epic fantasy and I am just not the biggest epic fantasy fan. But WOW-the writing! Lawhead is definitely a talented writer, and I can see why the hubby reads all his books.

Merlin is the second book in the Pendragon books by Stephen Lawhead, so there may be spoilers for Taliesin below.

This is the Goodreads blurb: It is Roman Britain. Atlantis has been lost forever, and the reign of Arthur must be dreamed and fought into being. (Well, that's descriptive of a 400+ page novel, eh? lol)

So, predictably, Merlin tells the tale of Merlin, Taliesin and Charis' son. The book covers about 3 generations of normal people time, but Merlin doesn't age like normal people, and the book only covers his young and middle adulthood. Merlin really comes into his own over the course of this book. At the beginning we see him as a sometimes emotional, sometime impetuous young king. Then he has a fugue. Then he's a kingmaker (politician). Then he's the "creator" of Arthur.

I really enjoyed and got into the first part of the book and the last part of the book, the parts where he himself is a king and then when he's the kingmaker. But the middle part.... I was totally, utterly lost. I wasn't expecting it. I won't give any spoilers, but events lead to Merlin being alone on a mountaintop living in a cave with a wolf for an unspecified amount of time. And he's lost it. He's nuts and he's filthy and Pelleas has to come find him and drag him home. I think I could have skipped straight from the end of part 1 to the beginning of part 3 and been less lost than I was trying to figure out what the crap was going on in part 2.

However, know that parts 1 & 3 are SO good as to cancel out the confusion of part 2. I do miss Charis. In Merlin we only get Merlin's p.o.v. I'm not a guy, so maybe my sadness at the loss of Charis' p.o.v. influenced my opinion of the whole book. Don't worry; Charis is still around, but we only see her through Merlin's eyes.

So ever since Merlin disappeared to go be a hermit up the mountain, Briton has had a bad High King, Vortigern. When Vortigern is finally killed, two brothers work together to rule Briton. One takes cares of politics and one takes care of the army. It totally works. Until, you know, everything falls apart. This is when Merlin really steps it up. He steps in and helps Briton come together and unite against the Scots and for the new High King. (No spoilers; you'll have to read the book to find out who it is.) He also orchestrates the naming of a babe, Arthur, and the childrearing and training that he will receive. This makes me super excited for Arthur, the next book in the series. I hope it starts right where Merlin leaves off, so that I can see some of Arthur's childhood! I hope he's spunky.

Overall, I give this book 3 stars. I do not begrudge it of the time I spent reading it, and I totally plan to read Arthur. I was confused in the middle, but that might have been reader error, and I missed Charis' p.o.v., but Merlin did amazing things, and Lawhead is a talented enough author to carry the entire epic on one character's shoulders.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Stacking The Shelves {191}

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 Holidays everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful time and lots of bookish gifts! Xmas was reasonable for us this year but we are enjoying time with our family :)


I am actually shocked because for the first time in my life there was not a speck of snow outside on Christmas day. It was actually warm and raining on the 24th! Is there snow where you are??

I also recently started my own etsy shop for newborn birth announcement wall art so if this is something that might be of interest to you, I invite you to take a look. I am having a boxing day sale so use code BOXINGDAY at checkout to get 15% off :)



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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead

Taliesin was first published in 1988... when I was 3 yrs old. But it is a fantasy novel based on the legend of King Arthur, so it didn't feel dated at all while I was reading it. Anyhow... there may be some minor spoilers in this review. The book's been out forever, folks.

Taliesin was a hubby pick. He first read the Pendragon Cycle books as a teen and he LOVES them. He read them as a teen, and then again as a young adult. He might have even read them twice as a teen. So we own them and the copy I read was that soft feel that books get when they've been handled a lot. I love that feeling.

Taliesin is the first of the Pendragon Cycle books, and it is the tale of Merlin's parents, Charis and Taliesin. Charis is a royal princess in Atlantis and Taliesin is a foundling in Briton. Taliesin's adopted father had the worst luck in everything in life until he found the infant Taliesin in a bag in a stream. Suddenly he has all the best luck. He ends up king even though he's not his father's oldest son and he scores a hot wife and he builds up a great warband of soldiers to protect his homeland. Taliesin is schooled by the village druid to be a druid himself, and a talented bard.

Charis grows up in the royal household in Atlantis. She's buddies with the royal seer and he gives her private lessons in using the seeing stone to foretell events. She grows up to be a bull dancer. It's kind of like bull fighting, but she dances to elude the bull instead of stabbing it.

Disaster strikes Atlantis, and Charis and her family barely escape with their lives. War strikes Briton, and Taliesin and his family barely escape with their lives.

Taliesin is an epic fantasy novel. It's lengthy and deep, but it never gets mired down in the mud. I feel like I fairly flew through it for how long it is. (Just over 500 pages in my edition.) So even though it might feel like I told you a lot of the plot just now, I really barely skimmed it. There's so much more rich detail in the book itself, and I definitely would encourage others to read it.

I loved the plot and the story and the characters, but I didn't particularly care for the ending. It just seemed to come a little too quickly compared to the other events in the book, and I was left with a number of questions. I suppose (hope) they may be answered in the next book, Merlin. So see: there's a good endorsement: I plan to read the other two books in the series!


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

I want more, please! An easy to read, Young Adult fantasy novel, The Young Elites is an exceptional book. The characters, the fantasy world and the story, are all well crafted and leaves you wanting more.

The blood fever swept through the country killing thousands and leaving many children physically scarred. The scarred children, the malfettos, are seen as abominations, and are being persecuted by the Inquisition Axis. Some of these malfettos are rumoured to possess incredible powers, like controlling fire, the wind or animals. One is even rumoured to being able to bring back the dead. A few of these exceptional young adults have come together and formed a group called the Young Elites. Adelina Amouteru is only now showing the first signs of her malfetto powers, and is being sentenced to death for the murder of her father. She might be in part responsible for his death but she isn't a murderer. At least not yet. The Young Elites come sweeping in, saving her from execution, and taking her under their wing.

The Young Elites' leader happens the be rightful heir to the throne, Enzo Valenciano, but was robbed of his rightful place as king when he was outed as a malfetto. His ability to create and control fire has earned him the name Reaper and his goal is to gain his rightful place on the throne. His group of Elites are dedicated to his cause, so when they save Adelina from a certain death, she feels like she owes them her life. She becomes dedicated to her training and controlling her malfetto powers, which are dark and powerful. Some of the other elites are weary because of the nature and darkness of her powers, however, Enzo decides to train her himself, something he rarely does. They form an easy relationship. Adelina is attracted to Enzo but she knows she doesn't have a chance with a would-be-king. And since she doesn't necessarily trust the Young Elites, she is weary of everyone surrounding her.

Although I have a hard time reading books where characters have been abused, the recollection of Adelina's abusive past is necessary in order to understand the darkness that lurks inside her. Her past has not been an easy one so trusting a new group of people is difficult for her, despite her need to feel accepted. The only good thing about her past is her relationship with her sister, and when she learns her sister is being held captive by the Lead Inquisitor who sentenced Adelina to death, she is willing to do just about anything in order to save her. Yet, her guilt prevents her from totally betraying her new friends.

This is the type of book where so many things happen yet feels too short in order to be complete. The writing seemed a little rushed but honestly because the pace was so fast, it had me hooked from beginning to end. Although it was a great story, it feels like the world needs a little bit more in terms of details. Hopefully the next books will add more details and we'll learn more about this magical world Marie Lu created.

stephsig moon

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [190]

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 Christmas week everyone!  Can you believe we're only six days away?  I'm not completely ready; are you?  I'm not feeling stressed, fortunately; the important part is seeing all the family.  If the last batch of cookies aren't made, the world won't end.  Perhaps I'll even find a bit of reading time while off work for the long weekend!  To add your own link to the fun, see the Linksy at the end of this post.

ARCs for Review

Raging Sea Undertow Michael Buckley Be Frank With Me Julia Clairborne Johnson

Raging Sea (Undertow, Book 2) by Michael Buckley.  I haven't read Undertow #1 yet, but a coworker recommended this, so I'll get on it soon.

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson


Glitter and the Gold Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan Lady on the Hill Howard E Covington Students' Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary to the Old Testament Alexander Harkavy Lines for All Occasions Pickups and Come Ons

The Glitter and the Gold: The American Duchess-in Her Own Words by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan.  Hubby and I took a holiday babymoon to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.  (I highly recommend; they decorate the whole place so beautifully for Christmas!)  This was one of our souvenir picks.

Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon by Howard E. Covington.  Another souvenir book!

(Not Pictured) Christmas at Biltmore: Celebrating at America's Largest Home.  The third and final souvenir book.  We both always over-pack books from home to read while on vacations... and then buy more while away.  Hubby is undeniably my soulmate.

Students' Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary to the Old Testament by Alexander Harkavy.  This is a really cool, really old reference book that my mother-in-law found in her attic and passed along to us; Hubby's dad used it in college!  (We kind of collect dictionaries.)

Lines for All Occasions:  Pickups & Come Ons:  Pithy Proclamations for All About You, All About Me, Context-Specific, People-Specific, Coitus Seeking, Famous Flirtations.  "Won" at a White Elephant party.  :)  Just for giggles.


Babar To Duet or Not to Duet Jean Laurent de Brunhoff Elaine Waisglass Please Don't Bite the Baby Please Don't Chase the Dog Keeping Our Kids and Our Dogs Happy Together Lisa J Edwards Prohibition Bakery Leslie Feinberg Brokke Siem Gingerbread Timeless Recipes for Cakes Cookies Desserts Ice Cream Candy Jennifer Lindner McGlinn Last Bookaneer Matthew Pearl Strengths Finder 2.0 Tom Rath Blood of Olympus Rick Riordan Full Cupboard of Life Alexander McCall Smith

Babar: To Duet or Not to Duet by Jean de Brunhoff with Laurent de Brunhoff and Elaine Waisglass.  I requested this one because a family member wanted it for a homeschool lesson; I read it and enjoyed it.

Please Don't Bite the Baby (and Please Don't Chase the Dogs): Keeping Our Kids and Our Dogs Safe and Happy Together by Lisa J. Edwards.  Because I have a dog, and am about to have a baby.  Also, is that baby on the cover not the absolute cutest?!

Prohibition Bakery by Leslie Feinberg with Brooke Siem.  Requested before I knew I was pregnant!  I promise!  I might still try a recipe or two for the hubby, or if the alcohol is thoroughly baked into the recipe.

Gingerbread: Timeless Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Desserts, Ice Cream, and Candy by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn.  Ginger/gingerbread/molasses things have definitely been cravings for me!  I want to try ALL. THE. RECIPES.

What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard.  This was not what I expected at all, but it was very good.  Will definitely try the sequel too.

The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl.  Definitely a good read!  Especially for bibliophiles like me.  Interesting story: while I was reading this one, that deals tangentially with Robert Louis Stevenson, I was concurrently reading Under the Wide and Starry Sky, which also deals with Robert Louis Stevenson!  I'm pleasantly surprised I didn't get confused.

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  Recommended by my manager and coworker, and looks short, so of course I'll give it a whir.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.  The fifth (and final?) Heroes of Olympus book!  I was on the holds list for this for quite a while!

The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith.  These No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books aren't deep or anything, but they're so very pleasant!  I've been doing them all on audiobook, and the narrator has a very nice lilting accent.

What books did you bring home recently?  Leave your link below, and have happy holidays!


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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wake by Amanda Hocking

There was so much to love about Wake! The main character, Gemma, is awesome: she's independent and fun and a good friend and a good sister and a good daughter. She's determined and she works hard, even under less-than-ideal circumstances. These less-than-ideal circumstances include a dad who works hard hours, a mom who lives nearly an hour away in a group home after suffering a traumatic brain injury, and an older sister who is having trouble letting go of her caretaker role as she transitions to college. Through it all, she remains a very active member of her school's swim team, maintains good grades, plan to go to college after graduation, and is a loyal friend who knows how to have fun.

I loved that Gemma and Harper, her sister, wasn't perfect. Because that's real. There is never, ever a question of whether or not they love each other: they love each other nearly to a fault. But that doesn't mean that they will always see eye to eye or never say a hurtful word to each other. That's just the way it is, and I love that Amanda Hocking is able to convey that fiercely loyal never perfect sisterly love.

I also love that there may or may not be mermaids in Wake. I love me some potential mermaidness. No spoilers! You'll have to read the book. Either way, the characters live on the coast, and there's lots of ocean interaction.

While I loved Wake and want to give it an enthusiastic five stars, there's one little thing holding me back a little: willing suspension of disbelief. Amanda Hocking does demand a little bit of willing suspension of disbelief at times. And by a little, I mean a good dose of willing suspension of disbelief. If you go into Wake fully committed to a great time and a fantastic story, you're in for a treat. If you're a skeptical person, this book may not be for you. But I loved it, and I also plan to hand over my copy to my own sister in the near future. I think she'll love it as much as I did.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shadows of Self (Mistborn Book 5) by Brandon Sanderson

This is a review of the fifth book in the Misborn series by Brandon Sanderson. If you have not read any of the previous books but, love books filled with action, adventure and romance, I highly suggest you stop reading this review, pick up the first book (The Last Empire) and work your way back here later.  I will likely touch on some aspects of the story that may reveal key elements of the previous books.  Things that are commonly referred to as 'Spoilers'.

When last we left Wax, Wayne and Marasi were  recovering from their battle to take down Wax's old friend Miles Dagouter.  Miles was another Twinborn and former Lawman whose Allomantic and Feruchemical abilities made him nearly unstoppable and almost immortal. Waxillium and his small crew managed the impossible and brought Miles down though, it was a hollow victory.  For, the one pulling Miles' strings not only got away, he turned out to be Wax' supposedly dead uncle, Edwarn Ladrian.  Coupled with the loss of his one true love, Lessie and his loveless betrothal to Steris  all gives Waxillium Ladrian little to celebrate at the end of the first book.

Unlike most series, the fourth book stays in the same world but, it moves far enough forward in time that many of the feats and people from before take on legendary status. Now, in Shadows of Self, the current heroes are having to deal with the results of the feats of those legends as well as a burst of technology and innovation none where accustom to.  It's that same spirit of experimentation that can make Steampunk so much fun.  I wouldn't classify this novel as Steampunk but, it does have that same feel.

This is an interesting second act to this half of the series in that, relationships one may count on to get a bit closer, don't.  While other character paths seem destined to collide.  Of course we get a better understanding for Wax, Wayne and Marasi but, it was certain things I thought I picked up on in Steris that surprised me a bit.  We even get a bit more in about Wax' first love, Lessie.  All in all, the character growth in this book is the best part of it.  Any time an author gets the reader to feel that much more involved with the people in a story I count it as a success.

That's not to short change the story by any means.  As we watch the characters progress, we also get to see what could be the beginnings of tremendous change in the world.  It's all brought along so gently and organically that even the reader may not pick up on it.

Shadow of Self is a book so entertaining one could easily try to finish it in one or two sittings.  There is quite a bit of violence and some language that's a bit suggestive of mature topics all which land it in the PG13 are for me.


Roberts Signature

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Single Undead Moms Club by Molly Harper

It's no secret that I absolutely adore everything Molly Harper writes. It probably has a lot to do with her creative wit and her inherent geekiness. There's also the fact that most her her heroines are just your average Jane (mostly--if you ignore the supernatural elements). However, I think what truly captivates readers are the fun and romantic stories that she delivers time and time again.

The heroines Molly Harper creates are always easy to associate with. Despite the fact that I have very little in common with this book's heroine, Libby, I still feel for her as she transitions into a vampire. Unlike her, I might not have in-law problems, child custody problems, PTA problems or blood issues, however, they are realistic enough that I can't help but root for her as she discovers her new self. Libby is a strong woman that has made the ultimate and final choice in order to stay alive and raise her son. It can't be easy suffering from cancer and knowing that you'll leave your son an orphan in just a few short months. I want to say, in her position, I probably would have done the same thing. I'm selfish enough that I would want to survive and not die so young because of bad genetics.

Wade was a nice surprise. He's definitely not the kind of guy you would expect a good PTA single mom to end up with. A Harley riding man full of tattoos isn't the kind of guy anyone expects to end up with. However since his and Libby's son form an inseparable childhood bond, they are forced to be civil, despite their bad initial meeting. I really like the fact that Libby takes it slowly and Wade respects her wishes without having to discuss it. Everything Libby does is in her son's best interest but at some point, I think she realizes she has to live for herself too.

It wouldn't be a real Molly Harper story without someone trying to kill the female lead. And I'm not talking about the racist/vampire hating PTA president who's out to socially destroy Libby. It isn't clear why a man dressed in a black ski mask is trying to kill her, but new vampire luck seems to be on her side every time she encounters her attacker. Luck, and the fact that her more or less absent sire is keeping tabs on her and secretly watching over her.

In the Half Moon Hollow world, vampires have "come out the the coffin" years ago, yet vampires still face prejudice and countless hate crimes. I think one of the books messages is that everyone should be given a chance, and you shouldn't hate someone because of who or what they are. In today's society, we might not be facing vampires, but we will be experiencing an influx of Syrian refugees. We can't judge these people because of their heritage or their religion, simply because it's different from our own. We have to respect them and try to be as accommodating as possible. We can't use fear as motive for hate because that would revert human society back centuries. (And don't twist my words as I compare vampires to refugees! I'm just saying their situations are similar.) Here in Canada, the government has done much to help the new refugees. In the USA, I just hope that when it comes to electing party candidates and a president, Americans will not let fear and hate guide their choices.

Fans of Molly Harper will love this book. Or fans of paranormal romance, for that matter. I've come to expect certain things from Harper yet she always surprises me with new stories and ideas. Libby and Wade make a great couple despite the fact that they're not your typical paranormal romance pair. The PTA and school activities might be new territory for Miss Harper, but her writing is still the same: fun, snarky and outrageous!

stephsig moon

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stacking The Shelves {189}

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 everyone!

I hope you are having a great December thus far.

Its actually incredibly mild here for this time of the year (we only got 1 day of snow), but I'm actually enjoying not having the shovel before I head to work hahaha

I was lucky enough to have a photoshoot on the day it did snow though, and I'm in love with the results!

IMG_2086s IMG_20452s IMG_2082s IMG_2089s

Book wise I did not receive any physical copy, but I was authorized on netgalley for 2 titles I was anxiously awaiting. Needless to say, I am super happy!

Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole

Night Study by Maria V Snyder

So what did you add to your shelves this week?


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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind was not what I was expecting. At all. I don't remember now what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. The plot is this, essentially: there's been a civil war in America over the abortion issue, and the end truce was that fetal abortion is illegal, but parents can choose to "unwind" their child at age 13 if they're unhappy with how they're turning out. If a kid makes it to 18, they're safe; no one can be "unwound" after that point. What is unwinding? Healthy teens are portioned out to others for medical or cosmetic needs. Need a kidney? There's an Unwind you can cut open and grab one from. Every single part of the Unwinds is used, so society is told that they're not "dead;" they "live on" in others.

So this YA book was a lot deeper and more thought-provoking than I ever would have thought!

Connor, Risa, and Lev have all been set aside to be unwound for various reasons, and this brings them together into an unlikely partnership to survive. Connor is a "difficult" kid for his parents. Risa is a ward of the state. Lev has been set aside since birth as his family's "tithe" to the program. So there are many issues at discussion in this book! Teens with discipline problems: how they view the situation, how the adults in their lives view the situation, and what the ideal solution is. Orphan rights: even as minors, what are their rights? What decisions can they reasonably expect adults around them to make in their name? When do they stand up for themselves? Religious freedom: at what point should someone outside step in? When the parents are about to sacrifice their child in the name of their beliefs?

Neal Shusterman is such a fantastic writer. Even as I cringed at the issues being presented, I laughed at the characters' witty banter. Even as I feared for the characters' safety and stayed up too late reading, I thoroughly enjoyed watching them continue to triumph over the horrible circumstances in which they'd been placed. Every time I thought the characters might be safe... nope! There's danger at every turn for these three teens on the run. While they are definitely still teens, with very little "life experience," they repeatedly make well thought-out and mature decisions.

I went into Unwind years after it's publication, knowing that it's the first in a trilogy. But the ending really wraps up well! You could stop at the end, but why would you want to? By the end, you're going to be rooting for the teens and will want to know what happens next.


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Sphere by Michael Crichton

Deep below the surface of the Pacific Ocean is a mystery and an enigma.  What has been waiting below the waves for hundreds of years? How did it get there and who put it there? How can the expedition deal with the answers once they're learned? These are some of the questions presented in Michael Crichton's Sphere.

While this is vintage Crichton, it is not quite the Crichton he will become in his later books.  It does, however show the promise soon realized by this master of science-fiction thrillers.  This story s a blend of real science, theory and science fiction.  While some of the science and technology doesn't age well, it does not take away from the story.  Much of the theory holds up mostly because Crichton stayed somewhat vague about it.  As far as the science fiction goes, well, it is science fiction.  It all serves the plot well.

The character make up of the expedition seem a bit like ones you have seen before.  Of course since this book was written almost 30 years ago, it is understandable.  Over the years, this type of line up has become the new archetype for this type of story.  That said, they do develop well and the reader is given time to appreciate each.  Since this is also a psychological thriller, we get to  see the characters reveal some of their most closely held secrets and weaknesses.

Sphere by Michael Crichton is a very intriguing and entertaining book that would be an excellent start for anybody who has yet to read anything by this author.  There are several others that might serve as well but, this is early in his career and can serve as an introduction to his later books.  There is a bit of violence and mild adult situations  so, I would give an easy PG13.


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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

"When I'm not writing" with Alyssa Richards

Today we're hosting Alyssa Richards, who has a brand new book out TODAY!  Alyssa is a paranormal romance author who lives in the South with her husband and two children.  In 2015 alone, she's published two great novels!  Her writing is influenced by her curiosity with ghosts and the supernatural world.  She writes daily and believes that discipline and commitment to the craft are critical to be a successful writer.  Here's what she's up to when she's not writing!


When I'm Not Writing Marie

I have two young boys, so when I’m not writing I’m most often with them in some way. They’re both involved in sports so I also spend a fair amount of time at soccer and baseball fields. I keep my iPad and laptop in my bag and have learned to read and write between plays :) We enjoy traveling as a family.

We live in an area with lots of lakes, hiking trails and biking paths so, weather-permitting, we’re outside as much as possible. One of my favorite things to do, though, is to visit museums. I love art of all kinds; I’m endlessly fascinated by it. And, of course, it’s always fun to combine my love of art with my love of travel!

Gardening is another passion. I have several different rose and herb gardens and they keep me busy in the warmer months!


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

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest


Here's the scoop on Somewhere in Time:

Somewhere in Time Alyssa Richards Fine Art of Deception

Addison Montgomery has finally found love with the man of her dreams, Blake Greenwood, and is ready to live another lifetime of happiness with him. But the morning they’re supposed to bring closure to their dark, violent past, all chances of a happily-ever-after turn as dead as the ghosts she sees on a daily basis.

Now Addie must team up with her greatest enemy, embracing her not-quite-perfect gift of reading art psychically. If she succeeds, she will finally learn the truth behind her father’s and grandfather’s disappearances. If she fails, every chance at love she’s ever hoped for will be destroyed. But one thing is clear: she has to choose between saving Blake or her family, and there’s no way she can ever have both.

Purchase: Amazon

And here's where it all began:

Fine Art of Deception Alyssa Richards

Art appraiser Addison Montgomery just wants a normal life. One where she can ignore the vicious ghosts who follow her. One where she’s free from her “gift” of touching an object and seeing the owner’s deepest secrets. And one where she can fall in love without having all of the above get in the way.

But when tall, dark, and dangerous gallery owner Blake Greenwood enters her life, normal is the last thing she’s feeling. The man has more secrets than the priceless art he sells, giving Addison’s quest for normal no chance. That, and he may just hold the key to uncovering the truth behind her father’s unexplained disappearance.

Despite her paranormal gifts warning her to stay away, she feels an inexplicable, captivating fascination for him, something that goes deeper than attraction. There’s something between them that’s older than time, and if she can learn to give him her trust, it may just save her life.———————————


Alyssa is giving away a $25 Amazon giftcard. Follow the Rafflecopter instructions to enter!

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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 favourite 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, December 07, 2015

The Selection by Christine Castle and Jayne Faith [Review and Book Tour]

The notion of a selection, where young adults are more or less given away like property, sounds a bit barbaric. We’ve seen it in the Hunger Games, and in another series with the same title as this one by Kiera Cass. All are similar in the sense that the powers that be host a competition. In the Hunger Games, they fight to the death for entertainment with one (supposedly) victor at the end. In Kiera Cass’ series, the winner ends up with prince charming. In this book however, it’s a little of both. The surviving winners ends up in the Lord’s employ while the rest end up…dead. The girl who wins ends up in the Lord’s harem, while the winning boy ends up as a servant for that same lord.

Although it feels as if this story has been told multiple times, I enjoyed this version very much. Not only is it sci-fi, but it does have a magical feel to it, with the prophesies and mystical themes.  I loved the idea of a race humans that abandoned Earth long ago that are now back to reclaim the planet, now called Earthenfell, while fighting an alien race. It took me while to understand the whole concept and the world the characters lived in but I loved how the writers slowly incorporated the necessary details as the story progressed. I thought it was very well written although I wish it could have been even more detailed.

Usually, I dislike female leads that are naive and fragile, but in Maya’s case, I think it was necessary. Her whole life she thought she would be safe from the selection since her community had preselected a girl that would be trained and prepared for the competition, to be the Obligate of Maya’s clan when the time came. However, because this preselected girl dies right before the bi-annual ceremony that would announce her as the next Obligate in the deadly game, Maya is randomly selected instead. Maya has no clue what the selection really entails. As she mourns her fate with her family and friends during her last night on Earthenfell, I believe she comes to terms with her possible fate. “An Obligate entering the competition with no training was walking into almost certain death (loc 215).” However, once in the competition, Maya proves to everyone that she might just have what it takes in order to survive the physical and mind games they are putting her through.

When we first learn of Lord Toric through Maya’s point of view, he’s made out to be an evil and sadistic leader. However, the more we learn, the more we see the humanity in him. He has a dark past which has forged him into the man he is, and we slowly realize that he’s not the real enemy. Actually, he singles out Maya the first time he sees her and she becomes his obvious favourite. I love the rapport they build. It’s simple and modest, and Toric does his best not the intimidate the shy and innocent Maya.

One of my critics would be the length of the book. Not only does the story finish on a cliffhanger,  but I find the book was too short. It’s almost as if the writers purposely cut the story in order to make it fit into a trilogy. The ending makes you want more so if their goal was to leave me wanting more, they certainly achieved it in the most evil of ways. I definitely plan on reading the next book, however the release date has yet to be announced.


This review is part of an online Book Tour organized by Expresso Book Tours. Click on the tour banner for other stops and reviews. There is also a tour wide giveaway. To enter, use the rafflecopter below.


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Saturday, December 05, 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!


Holiday Greetings to All!!!  'Tis the season to be jolly and at my age, more often 'Jolly' means finding a nice, quiet and warm place to read!  Here are a few of my favorite new reads:

Robert STS for December

I have always been a fan of Michael Crichton and I found The Andromeda Strain and Sphere on sale.  It's always  interesting to see an artist's or author's early works.

The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill was an awesome blast from the past for me.  It is an often amusing recounting of life as a POW in World War II Germany.  It reminds me very much of the old TV show Hogan's Heroes.

The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen is an interesting read.  It's interesting in that it highlights an issue that really needs more done about (smuggling women in to the country to be sold as sex slaves). Unfortunately,  I found the book left a lot to be desired.  I couldn't connect with the protagonists and I would like to have had a bit more mystery to it.

Still, these are some good titles to settle into on a cold winter's night.  Tell me, what amusing, interesting or strange tales are you cuddling up with?

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Thursday, December 03, 2015

Rise of the Elgin by Richard Paul Evans

I'm just so loving this series! So full of action and great characters, and also "clean" of cussing and romantic times. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, but YA spans such a large amount of maturity, and sometime I need books I can hand to younger YA readers. And while clean, the Michael Vey books are definitely not boring or preachy! They are so chock-full of excitement that there's no room for sexytimes.

In Rise of the Elgen, Michael and the Electoclan are off on another adventure, this time to rescue Michael's mom from the evil Elgen corporation. In this one, the teens travel to Peru! In Peru, the Electroclan encounters even bigger and badder (yup; I'm aware that's not a real word) villains. Oh, and there's rats in this book. If you're squeamish about rats, this may not be your book. (See the cover above. Rats that glow.)

For me, I really appreciated that The Rise of the Elgen opens with a bit of a recap ofPrisoner of Cell 25. It's been two years since I read Prisoner of Cell 25, so the recap really helped. And the recap wasn't dry at all; it was skillfully woven right into the plot.

Don't misunderstand me: even with a slight repetition to refresh your memory of The Prisoner of Cell 25, The Rise of the Elgen still jumps right into the action. I was totally absorbed in this book the entire time I was listening to it. When I got near the end, I was tempted to just sit in my car and listen through to the end and be late for work. (I resisted.) I was so glad that I already had the third book, The Battle of the Ampere, in my car so that I could start it immediately after finishing this one. The Rise of the Elgen has a doozy of an ending!

The characters: just as I said in my review of The Prisoner of Cell 25, Richard Paul Evans has managed to create such a great dynamic with his group of electric teens. They're smart and funny and courageous. I love hearing their conversations too: many of them are a bit snarky. Totally my kind of humor. It's pretty impressive when an author can get so much depth of character to secondary characters. The entire Electroclan is really well fleshed-out.

And finally, the narration: I listened to this on CD and I thought the narration by Fred Berman was fantastic! He has a great cadence to his speech that is Goldilocks-just-right. Not too fast or too slow. And I never "tuned out" while listening. Oh, and I never had to adjust the volume once it was set. Just super great narration.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson

This is technically the fourth book in this series.  A review of The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson does not require any spoilers of any of the previous books however, I do suggest you start at the beginning of the series.  It answers questions  on how and why some things happen as well as giving the reader a slight sense of superiority over the characters.  After all, we know what really happened over three hundred years ago!

From plains not unlike those of the mid-western US to city streets that may make a  19th century Londoner feel at home, Allomancers and Feruchemists use their skills and powers much as their ancestors once did.  If one is as fortunate as Mr. Waxillium Ladrian, you get abilities from both abilities.

Brandon Sanderson brings to life a character who is both comfortable and yet unsuited to live in either of the two societies he has called home throughout his life.  Waxillium may understand the hard rules of both the Roughs and the subtleties of the city but, that does not mean he is welcome by the inhabitants of either.  Through this story, we get to see this emerge and take real shape.  Much like most of the characters in this book as well as this series,   Mr. Ladrian is a well defined, well developed character that grows with the story.  Another hallmark to a Brandon Sanderson book is how a seemingly obscure side character can often come from and center and crucial to the plot.  I won't say more than that except that, one should not casually dismiss characters who seem to be part of the scenery.  You may see them again.

The scenery itself is a large part of the narrative.  Much as it was in the previous three novels, the scenes continue to set the mood and scope of the story.  Whether in a cramped train car or an open plain, the author brings in the setting like an extra character.

I've always liked the pacing of Brandon Sanderson's books and this one does not disappoint.  There never seems to be action for action's sake and the more peaceful parts are for more than simple exposition but, are placed well enough to give the readers a moment to catch their breath before moving us through the plot.  To be honest,  one may recognize some tropes but, I think there's enough twist to most of them to keep the readers engaged.

The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson is more than a continuation of the series, it is the series reborn into a new time.  I found it very entertaining and would have no problem recommending it for my 14 yr old to read. That earns it a modest PG13 rating mainly due to violence and some moderate adult conversations.

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