**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, October 19, 2017

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik


Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: May 19, 2009

Series:  Temeraire #5

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

For Britain, conditions are grim: Napoleon’s resurgent forces have breached the Channel and successfully invaded English soil. Napoleon’s prime objective is the occupation of London. Unfortunately, the dragon Temeraire has been removed from military service–and his captain, Will Laurence, has been condemned to death for treason. Separated by their own government and threatened at every turn by Napoleon’s forces, Laurence and Temeraire must struggle to find each other amid the turmoil of war. If only they can be reunited, master and dragon might rally Britain’s scattered resistance forces and take the fight to the enemy as never before–for king and country, and for their own liberty.


In the last novel, the British had contaminated Napoleon's dragons with the wasting disease, and Temeraire and Laurence recognized that this would spread to other countries and all dragons would die. Temeraire and Laurence made a choice to bring the cure to France's dragons though all of Britain would see this as betrayal and Laurence would lose everything and be branded as a traitor. Upon their return to Britain, Laurence and Temeraire were separated and have been sent to their respective fates: Temeraire to the breeding grounds and Laurence captive in a ship's brig to await his hanging.

Things do seem the lowest of the low for our two heroes. Still, with a war on, Temeraire is the most valuable dragon in their arsenal, and things don't quite pan out to the expectation. This book is where Temeraire begins to shine separate of Laurence. When he believes Laurence is dead, he wins the allegiance of the dragons at the breeding grounds and takes them to war against Napoleon, who has launched a campaign on British soil. However, the dragons are also acting without military orders. Laurence, who has only been called to duty since the war needs Temeraire, must act as Temeraire's representative (once reunited) for the canny dragon has made himself a commander, with dragons and militia under his orders. Temeraire begins to grasp the chain of command and the hurdles resulting while also confronting the outcomes, bringing a better understanding of what Laurence has done for him in choosing treason to make the moral choice. Finally, with Temeraire's military rise, he uses this newfound power to command respect from the men and bargain for dragon rights, though we have not yet fully seen how this will play out.

Laurence, too, has his own inner battle, finding he readily accepts martial consequences of his actions for himself but not for many others it has affected. This is a subtle conflict, and Laurence chooses safeguards to prevent this from occurring again under his command by withholding their true orders from the other captains and crew. This obedience to orders to save his companions further complicates matters, though, as their orders goes against his moral code. And after everything Laurence has suffered, we finally see this take a noticeable toll on him through Temeraire's observation.

 Despite the separation and chaos of this novel, I really enjoyed the character development and the opportunities for Temeraire to both lead and learn, mostly without Laurence's guidance or influence. I still like Laurence, and with him so miserable, it would be nice to see him afforded a bit of happiness soon. I don't see how this is likely with them headed to Australia, but I guess I will have to keep reading!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [276]


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!
——————
 
EnregistrerAnother very tall shelf stack over at Reading Reality this week. I'm so happy these are all ebooks. If they were print the house would sink! The scary thing is that in the days before NetGalley and Edelweiss, I used to buy books at just about the same rate. OMG.

As always, I have a couple of books to tease you with.




The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff

This one isn't going to be out until well into next year, but I couldn't resist picking it up. The premise, of a disgraced cop who ends up commanding a squad of misfits, sounds very much like one of my favorite British TV crime dramas, New Tricks. And if it's half as good, it should be a real treat.


A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey

If the title and the cover don't give this away, A Scandal in Battersea is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche set in the world of Lackey's Elemental Masters. I absolutely ADORE Holmes' pastiches, and Lackey is one of my favorite authors. What's not to love?

Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: September 25, 2007

Series:  Temeraire #4

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Tragedy has struck His Majesty’s Aerial Corps, whose magnificent fleet of fighting dragons and their human captains valiantly defend England’s shores against the encroaching armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. An epidemic of unknown origin and no known cure is decimating the noble dragons’ ranks–forcing the hopelessly stricken into quarantine. Now only Temeraire and a pack of newly recruited dragons remain uninfected–and stand as the only means of an airborne defense against France’s ever bolder sorties.
Bonaparte’s dragons are already harrowing Britain’s ships at sea. Only one recourse remains: Temeraire and his captain, Will Laurence, must take wing to Africa, whose shores may hold the cure to the mysterious and deadly contagion. On this mission there is no time to waste, and no telling what lies in store beyond the horizon or for those left behind to wait, hope, and hold the line.


This is possibly the most anxiety-ridden book so far in the series as all of Britain's dragons except Temeraire are in danger of being wiped out by an aggressive epidemic. With the war still ongoing, the only defense keeping Napoleon out without the dragons is the Navy, and even then, with Napoleon's and Lien's ingenious tactics, war could soon come onto British shores. Leaving the willful Iskierka and Arkady's band of ferals (with the translation help of Tharkay and Granby) to defend all of Britain from Napoleon by air, Temeraire and his cohort must travel back to Africa in hopes of finding a cure for the draconian disease.

Book 2, Throne of Jade actually introduces quite a bit that surfaces in this novel. Quick recap: on route to China, Temeraire took suddenly ill, but with the help of the Chinese cooks who were unafraid to use whatever means to feed him as possible, they managed to find something that cured his illness. That same illness spread to Britain and amplified (Temeraire not having the illness long enough to observe the full scope and devastation of the disease), and now all the British dragons face wasting decay and death. The cure, thought to be an odd, smelly mushroom, is virtually unknown and thus, their search is made 1,000x harder by the language barrier, unknown name and unknown description over all the continent of Africa. Having traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, Temeraire's and Laurence's job is to find that cure and test it on their friends, Lily, Maximus etc. (his wingmates from previous novels) before sending it back to Britain.

Laurence and his fellows bring with them two former slaves: Joseph Erasmus, an African missionary and his wife Hannah, and their two young daughters. Since they are onboard the Allegiance with Captain Riley again, this brings up another key theme/conflict from Throne of Jade: slavery and human rights/dragon rights. Though slavery is condemned by Laurence (and Temeraire), it still exists in Britain and other countries and upheld in British law though there has been a movement for some time to abolish it. Riley's family are slave owners, and this creates tension between the naval officers and Laurence and some of his airmen. Slavers have been increasing their raids of African villages from the coast and moving inward. While they are in pursuit of the mushrooms and harvesting a large cache, Laurence and some other captains and crew, including the newly pregnant Catherine Harcourt and former slave Hannah Erasmus, are captured by African natives. Here they directly see the effects slavery has had on the African villages and their dragons, and though Laurence is against it, they still must pay the price for being associated. It forces everyone, human and dragon alike, to confront their perceptions of slavery, and even Britain suffers the devastating consequences in the end. Will our heroes make it out of Africa alive? I couldn't predict any part of the way this ended (!), and I'm sure the mind-blowing outcome will come into play in a later novel.

This one made me laugh, cry, and bite my nails with anxiety since there are a plethora of awful possibilities just waiting to happen... Onward to more reading!


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [275]


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!
——————
 
EnregistrerMy complete shelf stack over at Reading Reality got rather tall this week. I saw oodles of interesting looking books at NetGalley and Edelweiss. Possibly too many.

But I'd still like to share a couple of books with you, just to tease.



Artifact (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt #1) by Gigi Pandian

This is the first book in Pandian's lovely Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt series. I read the fifth book this week, The Ninja's Illusion, and loved it, so I immediately went off to get the rest of the series. If you enjoyed the late Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss series, you'll love Jaya Jones. If you like mysteries with quirky heroines that have a great mix of cozy characters with adventurous exploits, you'll also love Jaya. I know I did!


The Governess Who Captured His Heart (Honorable Scoundrels #1) by Sophie Barnes

I also nabbed all three books in Sophie Barnes' new Honorable Scoundrels series. I really enjoy her historical romances, because she does a lovely job of turning the established tropes on their pointy little heads without making her heroines too modern, and therefor too anachronistic. Her books are always a good time, so I'm looking forward to reading this series. And they are all marvelously short! There are times when a quick little read to whisk you away is just what you're looking for, and these look like they will fill that particular bill quite admirably.


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: May 30, 2006

Series:  Temeraire #3

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

After their fateful adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty’s Aerial Corps and his extraordinary dragon, Temeraire, are waylaid by a mysterious envoy bearing urgent new orders from Britain. Three valuable dragon eggs have been purchased from the Ottoman Empire, and Laurence and Temeraire must detour to Istanbul to escort the precious cargo back to England. Time is of the essence if the eggs are to be borne home before hatching.

Yet disaster threatens the mission at every turn–thanks to the diabolical machinations of the Chinese dragon Lien, who blames Temeraire for her master’s death and vows to ally herself with Napoleon and take vengeance. Then, faced with shattering betrayal in an unexpected place, Laurence, Temeraire, and their squad must launch a daring offensive. But what chance do they have against the massed forces of Bonaparte’s implacable army?


This third novel is very much an epic as it is mostly journeying across Asia and Europe (more so than most of the other novels so far). They've managed to appease China in having Laurence adopted as the Emperor's son and sealed good relations with England in the process, and now they must return as England calls for Laurence and Temeraire to escort three dragon eggs from Istanbul home. Temeraire and his crew, along with a slippery guide named Tharkay, travel across deserts and rice paddies of inland China through unknown territories to Turkestan, facing starvation, attacks, and finally betrayal.

At the forefront of this novel is the idea of dragon rights and better conditions for what most other countries see as beasts or property. When Temeraire decides to return to England, he is filled with righteous fire and determined to bring better conditions to his dragon friends. Having seen some of the luxuries in China, they bring back cooks and other Chinese ideas like his decorative dragon claw sheaths, pavilion plans, and sand tables for writing. On their journey though, they must trust their safety to Tharkay, which is in some ways problematic as he keeps disappearing and after the secrets in China, Laurence is wary of more danger. They also encounter a large band of feral dragons, led by Arkady, who wish to see the Sultan of Istanbul and have great battles and stories such as Temeraire tells. When they arrive in Istanbul, they face a mess as their allies have conflicting stories than their instructions. Here they discover that Lien has preceded them across Asia to align herself with Napoleon and turn the Sultan against them. Desperate to return to England and help in the war after having learned of other defeats, Laurence and Temeraire must decide to do things their own way without guidance. Here their bond grows even stronger as they have only themselves and their crew to rely on with the communications silent. Here their honor, choices, and unorthodox kindness to their allies are key game changers in their long journey home, especially in a war that dragon intelligence has altered drastically.

I loved the new characters and setting in this novel, though it does seem like it's a wonder that any of Laurence's crew survives. There is one super heartbreaking moment in this novel that made me cry, but there are lots of great moments too, like finally getting to see Granby having more opportunities. The brush with historical characters is exciting, though I had to do a bit of research about Napoleon and the Prussian royalty. Like always, there is quite a big cliffhanger that drives you on to the next novel. Review coming soon!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [274]


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!
——————
 
Enregistrer I got lots of goodies this week, but this time I'd like to highlight a couple of my favorite self-published authors, both of whom sent me new books this week. If you want to see my entire Stacking the Shelves, it's over at Reading Reality. As usual.



Hell Squad: Ash by Anna Hackett

I got hooked on Anna's writing many, many books ago. Probably with the first Phoenix Adventures  book, At Star's End. But I love everything she writes. Several of her series are in my favorite genre, science fiction romance - and for those who are new to SFR, she never drowns the reader in technobabble. But each series is distinct and different in spite of being in the same genre. Hell Squad is post-apocalyptic, Galactic Gladiators are about space-traveling pit fighters and the Phoenix Adventures feature intergalactic treasure hunters. She also has a contemporary action-adventure-romance series, Treasure Hunter Security, that I'm almost certain is going to be a very loose "prequel" for the Phoenix Adventures, because those two families must be related! But if you are looking for a non-stop action both of the adventurous kind and between the sheets, you cannot go wrong with any of Anna's series. Start with At Star's End, Marcus, Gladiator or Undiscovered, depending on which flavor of action-adventure floats your boat. Better yet - collect the set - they are all awesome.



River Rising by John A. Heldt

I discovered John Heldt's books way, way back, as one of the international book lovers at the late and much lamented Book Lovers Inc blog. If you like time travel romance, and you have not discovered John Heldt, you are in for a real treat. His first book, The Mine, is one of the best time travel romances I've ever read. Right up there with Outlander. But The Mine, and all of his books, are marvelously different. Not just because he clearly does one hell of a lot of research (as does Gabaldon) but because his time travelers travel back in the United States, and to parts of history that were epochal but still very much part of our collective conscious. And he does an absolutely terrific job of making us feel what they feel - both the joys of discovery and the heartache of knowing what must come, no matter what. Heartbreakingly beautiful books, every single one.

Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood by Elly Blake

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: January 10, 2017

Series:  Frostblood Saga, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

This New York Times bestseller is perfect for fans of Red Queen.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating--yet irresistible--Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king's tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her--and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Vivid and compelling, Frostblood is the first in an exhilarating series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies...but together create a power that could change everything.

I started this book with excited anticipation, but after reading almost 3/4, I realized my problems with it were just not going to improve. I felt there was very little character development among our three mostly main characters: Brother Thistle, Arcus, and Ruby. Ruby does not stand out as a heroine and doesn't have much past besides her grandmother's stories and her mother dying almost immediately into the book. She also is pretty weak overall, and it's hard to see what strengths she has other than a temper. She has no other features to define her like a love of plants or animals or skills that set her apart. Her storyline is lending into a typical Chosen One where she'll be tempted by darkness, prophesied about, etc. And this brings up mostly what is wrong with this story: there's nothing that seems to be unique or stand out from the genre. It all feels borrowed from fantasy trope and predictable. Her romance with Arcus is also lackluster, as Arcus is secretive, brooding, and ultimately unimpressive in any detail that is revealed about his character. For most of the story, Ruby is either imprisoned or "in training" in an abby dedicated to Fors, a deity who takes in refugees. However, as a Fireblood, Ruby is largely hated. She's also (conveniently?) the only one of her kind left. She is supposed to be the only one who can kill the king and have an unstoppable Fireblood gift, but due to her weakness of character, this is very unbelievable.

The worldbuilding wasn't bad as I liked the details about the different gods, but it wasn't too clear what the history was and didn't make the reader feel fully immersed in the fantasy at all. There was little detail to the setting to set it apart or make it come alive. Ultimately, any reader who picks this up might enjoy it until they discover better written fantasies. There wasn't even enough suspense left for me to continue the book, much less try reading book 2, Fireblood, due to be released next month. After turning the book over, I also noticed it was highly praised by Morgan Rhodes, whose fantasies I also have a lot of problems with. I should have known better. Though I really liked Red Queen, which this was blurbed to have similarities to that title, this shot didn't even come close to being as good despite this beautiful cover. My opinion? Try Red Queen instead.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [273]


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!
——————
 
Enregistrer And we're back with another edition of "As the Bookshelf Groans", otherwise known as Stacking the Shelves. Or, as is usual in my case, Overstacking the Shelves. My complete stack, as usual, is over at Reading Reality. But there are, as always, a couple of books I want to tease you with - I meant highlight.



The Lost Plot (Invisible Library #4) by Genevieve Cogman

If you believe that there is magic in books - I certainly do - the Invisible Library series is an absolute delight, starting with the first book, the introduction to this marvelous gateway between worlds, The Invisible Library. As The Lost Plot won't be found until early January, you have plenty of time to get caught up before Librarian Irene Adler's next breathless adventure.



A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford

I don't know about you, but I could certainly use a kitchen witch. (Especially in the morning, before I've had my first caffeine injection). But seriously, this one just sounds like a terrific start to a new urban fantasy series.


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: TOR Teen
Release date: January 5, 2016

Series:  The Witchlands, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

The instant New York Times bestseller from the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series!

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a "witchery," a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble--as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It's a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her--but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi's hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship's captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

As I have a different opinion of this book than another reviewer, I thought I would talk about why I had such an alternate view.

I had such high hopes for this book. The cover is gorgeous. The idea of the novel is very intriguing, BUT (you did sense the BUT coming, didn't you?) there were quite a few big flaws that just made it a big disappointment.

First, there is too much action and too fast a pace to make sense. The story starts out with Safi and Iseult being chased due to setting a nasty trap for the wrong person. Why are they setting traps and robbing people? We never find out. Then, they are chased a few pages later again out of the city. And soon after that, Iseult must flee out of her former family's encampment due to a controlling Cursewitch and her mother's rushed escape plan. She meets up with Safi again, and both are being hunted by a Bloodwitch and having to flee the Empire aboard a Nubrevnan ship. A ship which has been contracted to spirit Safi away from her future husband and life as Empress and being chased by the Marstoks and the Cartorrans. It just keeps being a, pardon my terrible pun, witchhunt! There's no rest or time to get to know our characters without these super high, run-for-your-life stakes. Also, what is the point of being hunted anyway? Supposedly, it is because Safi is a Truthwitch and anyone who is a Truthwitch has the potential to be used for their power. What makes this different from being used as an Ironwitch or Threadwitch though?

There are many instances that pull the reader from the suspension of disbelief, bringing my next point to light: the lack of good worldbuilding. There's some great bones, but a lot of things are not explained that should be. Other readers/reviewers were asking about a glossary. This wouldn't be necessary if things were explained in the book at all. For instance, what is a Threadsister/brother? What makes this bond between Safi and Iseult so special? How many different types of witches are there? What makes them different from regular people? Can the Bloodwitch only hunt people with witcheries or anybody with blood? It's really frustrating, frankly, not to have these explained, and ultimately ruined this book entirely for me. Part of writing fantasy is that you have to have well-established worldbuilding and this just didn't, as it didn't support the elements it introduced. We don't find out a lot of things that really would have made the story come fully alive. Although I did finish this book, it just didn't interest me enough to even bother about reading book 2, Windwitch. I liked the characters mostly, but really wanted more of the focus on Safi and Iseult as they are there to hold the story up. The introduction of Merik is nice, but his connection with Safi just became too tiresome after awhile as it was mainly insta-love.

Side note: I noticed that Susan Dennard is bffs with Sarah Maas after getting to the acknowledgements. This is also probably should have clued me in that I was going to be disappointed as Sarah Maas and I don't get along.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [272]


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!
——————
 
Enregistrer After Hurricane Irma blew through last week, it looks like the next two, Jose and Katia, are headed off the U.S. east coast and well away from the places that are currently still bailing out after Harvey and Irma. That's the good news.

And, as always, there have been more books added to the virtually towering TBR stack. It's important to have plenty of choices of stuff to read in any crisis - or just because. The complete stack is over at Reading Reality, but here are just a few teasers...




Cold Hearted Rake, Marrying Winterborne, Devil in Spring (The Ravenels series) by Lisa Kleypas

I read a spotlight/promo/teaser for the next book in the series, Hello, Stranger, and it just sounded to good that I had to borrow the first three books from the library. I'll have plenty of time (hopefully) to get caught up before the new one comes out in February.


The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander

In addition to meriting an award for longest title ever, this is the second book in the series, after The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen, which I read and which was an absolute hoot. So I'm looking forward to this one.

Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Space fiction
Hardcover: 403 pages
Publisher: Scholastic
Release date: June 27, 2017

Series:  The Forgetting, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes. Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories -- of parents, children, love, life, and self -- are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence -- before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

This was such a unique book and idea! While it seems like it could be overwhelming with all of the details at first, it was carefully put together and gave just enough information to keep the reader engaged without being lost. At first, I was trying to see how this civilization might resemble a former Canaan of the Bible, but don't bother. I think the only reason it is referenced this way is that it is another "promised land" of a sort, though any further description means spoilering some awesome revelations at the end.

Nadia is special among the residents of Canaan because she hasn't forgotten. She tries to make plans for her family so that in case they forget again, she will keep them together. Until Gray helps, she is basically running a one-girl band to find out the truth behind the Forgetting. Additionally, Nadia is one of the few that recognizes the emotional trauma of being forgotten and lost and left behind. That's possibly a great metaphor to explore, and one that invokes a sad reminder of the effects of today's dementia and Alzheimer's diseases. It's really wrenching to picture a child or teen going through that!

From the very beginning, I kept expecting Gray or someone to betray her/them. It happens, but not quite the same way I pictured. What is really phenomenal is how you don't really realize that this is science fiction and specifically dystopian space fiction until much later in the book. I would have really wanted to find out more about the details of this, but perhaps that is coming in the sequel The Knowing coming out next month, October 2017. (It should be noted that this sequel does not continue the story of Nadia but has whole new characters since it takes place well after this book.)

The character description and character development were great. They really stick with you, and so many of them do change throughout the course of the novel, including Gray and Nadia. There are a few things that are rather disturbing about the book such as the killings, physical abuse, lost or orphaned children, and torture. Some things may be traumatizing to middle school readers, especially if they couldn't take similar themes in The Hunger Games either.

As a librarian, the idea of the books and the archives was intriguing and fun. I really enjoyed this aspect, especially when Nadia gains a job at the Archives. However, no way would I want my own book collection. I definitely would not want to have to write everything down, have other people potentially read what I've written and take advantage of it, nor to forget my family if my books were lost or destroyed. Again, super personally thought provoking! I enjoyed this one more than Rook but not as much as her two steampunk novels. Still can't wait to see what The Knowing holds!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [271]


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!
——————
 
Enregistrer And it's Christmas! Not really, but my stack is beginning to look a lot like it might be. A few holiday books have already trickled in, but this week I have two from a couple of my favorite authors. The rest of my stack over at Reading Reality is a bit less Christmas-y. At least so far.

I don't know about you, but even the idea of lots of snow is more fun to contemplate than another hurricane. Harvey was awful, and now Irma is on the horizon. It may deal us a glancing blow in Atlanta, but nothing like the folks in Florida are going to get!

Stay safe everyone!


Christmastime Cowboy by Maisey Yates

This is book 10 in Yates' Copper Ridge contemporary western romance series. And although there was one clunker in the series, at least for me, all the others that I have read have been absolutely marvelous. If you like your heroines with a bit of all-too-real angst, this series is a winner.


Hold Her Again by Shannon Stacey

I first discovered Stacey through one of the Carina Press holiday anthologies, way back in 2011 or 2012. She just writes terrific contemporary romance, and her books are always marvelous.

Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, September 07, 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release date: May 16, 2017

Series:  Flame in the Mist, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass.

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
     Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she's within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she's appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she's ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.


I loved her other series of The Wrath and the Dawn so I was keen on reading this one as soon as I could (plus, she's a fellow North Carolinian)! I wanted to like this book just as much as TWATD, but I just...didn't. I listened to this on audiobook, and that made the Japanese accents and names and history come alive, but I might have missed some key details that I otherwise would not have if I had read the book. Maybe at a second reading I'll have a different perspective, but I might just not even try. :(

This was marketed as Mulan meets Throne of Glass. Now, I love Mulan, but I absolutely really dislike Throne of Glass, so that wasn't a sell for me. The Mulan comparison comes from a girl masquerading as a boy and learning to fight, possibly also from Mulan's headstrong tendency to do as she likes rather than what people tell her to do. Unlike Mulan, I didn't feel like we really understood a picture of Mariko's personality and background before she was attacked/left for dead and then insinuates herself with the Black Clan. She seems a bit of a Mary Sue as we find out she's gifted at swordplay, alchemy/chemistry, and designing weaponry. Other than the fact that she is not like other girls and does not pretend to be the perfect ideal noble girl, most of her personality and skills are bland. She also has a typical blind eye towards other's feelings, especially if they are of a lesser station than she is. When she discovers abuses her family has done to their servants, she is shocked. It's rather like she just woke up to seeing the suffering of others since she was attacked. This seemed very...unbelievable.

Another of the things I missed was about Ōkami and Ronmaru, and apparently, Mariko missed it too. It's partially a spoiler, so I won't go into it here, but the last bit of the ending was confusing and didn't make enough sense. Perhaps this is due to the cliffhanger but I think it was simply too farfetched an idea, or due to the fact that our main character is so blind, the reader is too. I enjoyed the descriptions and writing and romance (!) though somehow missed this was actually feudal Japan with a bit of magic thrown in. The magic also is hard to grasp, as there are shadowy figures or animals and a fierce jungle cat that seems like something magical. Ōkami has some weird power too that seems magical, but none of this is explained because Mariko is kept so much in the dark. Without these explanations, I was just frustrated overall and wanted more from this story as I really think it could have been amazing. The romance was quite honestly the best part, so if you want some steamy kisses...

Did anyone else read this? What did you think?

Read an excerpt.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [270]


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!
——————
 
Enregistrer Happy Labor Day weekend to everyone in the U.S. I hope that you are able to enjoy this last unofficial weekend of summer, and the Monday holiday.

But wherever you are, I hope you have wonderful things to read! In case you are looking for something to read, here are a couple of teasers. My complete stack is over at Reading Reality.



Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 by S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michele Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green , Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject

This is the second Pets in Space collection. Last year's entry, just titled Pets in Space, had some absolutely lovely science fiction romance short stories and novellas, where the heroes and heroines achieve their HEAs with the help, or sometimes the hindrance of their space-faring pets, everything from cyber-dogs to dragons to robots. I'm really looking forward to the new collection!



Unmapped by Anna Hackett

Unmapped is the latest in Anna Hackett's marvelous action-adventure romance series, Treasure Hunter Security. I finished it last night (review coming this week at Reading Reality) and it's great fun. Antarctica hasn't seen this much action since they discovered the second Stargate!


Please link your STS post in the linky below:


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Historical fiction
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: April 25, 2006

Series:  Temeraire #2

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.

Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.


In this second Temeraire novel, things start off with quite a bit of conflict as a delegation of the Chinese has come to claim Temeraire back. The dragon nor Laurence will have any of it, but some British military leaders persist until Temeraire gets upset and instead attempts to kidnap Laurence to protect him.

After some discussion Laurence and Temeraire are sent together with an English naval ship and the Chinese delegation to return to China to salvage the diplomatic situation, especially before the Chinese decide to support Napoleon, believing the English have insulted them and stolen apurpose the egg housing Temeraire. While on the ship, strange things keep happening, and Laurence suspects the Chinese prince Yongxing will try everything in his power to get Laurence out of the way and keep Temeraire. Why? Because only royalty is supposed to be allowed as companions to Celestials, which they've discovered Temeraire is, and Laurence is absolutely deemed unworthy of the greatest dragon breed in existence. There is a lot of murky diplomacy and politics, action and death, and the tension between the naval officers and airmen doesn't help matters, especially when no one trusts the Chinese. Still, overtures are made to the Chinese to encourage an alliance and goodwill, though these seem to create more issues than help matters.

One of the new debates in this novel is the rights of dragons--are they animals/property or are they individuals? In China, dragons are treated much differently than in the Western European powers that we've been introduced to so far like Britain and France. Especially Celestials like Temeraire, dragons are treated with respect and occasionally like royalty. They can choose their own companions, find a trade, read, write, walk freely about the city and pay their own debts. In seeing China, Temeraire and Laurence confront much of their preconceived notions, and must decide what they believe. Temeraire also finds out about his family, and how much he stands to gain in staying in China. Furthermore, it remains to be seen how the Chinese will even allow Laurence to be with Temeraire, especially when it seems like there is a plot to either be rid of Laurence or instate a prince as his companion. It is a test of their bond, especially since Laurence faces unknown dangers and risks and must return to England to fight in the war, with or without his dragon. I am loving this series, and am reading it as fast as I can borrow the ebook...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [269]


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!
——————

Hello all! 

I've been absent from STS for a bit as I've been busy on maternity leave and it's been much harder to read and blog on my current schedule. Since I won't be blogging YA, all of these are adult titles I have wanted to read but that have been harder to find the time for during my normal rapacious appetite of young adult. However, here's some books I've added to my shelves recently:


 Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Temeraire, 2)
Recently read. Review coming soon! 
I loved His Majesty's Dragon so it's been hard to keep away from the next few in the series!

  Black Powder War by Naomi Novik (Temeraire, 3)
Recently read. Review coming soon! 

  Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (Temeraire, 4)
Recently read. Review coming soon! 

Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik (Temeraire, 5)
To be read soon!

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Recently completed. 
I have loved Kinsella's books since reading the Shopaholic series as a teen, and I've missed her last few pubs. This one was very cute and I enjoyed it a lot.

 Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
Recently completed. 
I liked I've Got Your Number better than this one since it was a rather horrifying comedy of errors that had the potential to ruin many relationships permanently!

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Recently completed.
This title is my library's Community Read for 2017, where we nominate a book to read as a community. It wasn't my favorite book, but especially the parent-child relationship was entertaining in this novel.


 Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Recently completed.
Since the tv show's release, I've been trying to read this before watching. I was caught off guard at many points, especially the ending. Still, it was addicting and horrifying at the same time. The tv show acting was phenomenal (with that cast, how could it NOT have been) even if they introduced the affair in a problematic place, IMO. 


 The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes
Recently completed.
I'm working my way through Jojo Moyes's books after reading Me Before You (I LOVED this one, especially the movie too), After You, and One Plus One (hilarious). This one was seemed to go from the darkest of deep holes to a much more positive place, but I loved the ending.


 A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Recently completed.
I still don't know what to make of this book though I loved Lila, and am eagerly anticipating reading the second book, but have to convince my library to get the ebook first...


The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Currently reading.
I loved The Name of the Wind and have been trying to read this second book for awhile, but it is SO LONG, it's been hard to find the time to start this one. 

Hope you enjoy! What have you added to your shelves lately?