Stacking the Shelves #1

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Stacking the shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews in which we talk about the books we’ve acquired (bought, received for review, borrowed from the library, etc.). Here’s what I’ve acquired in the past week:

A Gathering of Shadows FinalTitle: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2016

I have needed something, anything to get me out of my reading rut. I am not sure if A Gathering of Shadows will do that or not, but I am sure of one thing. I LOVED the first book in this series. The world was interesting, the characters felt real, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. V.E. Schwab writes killer Fantasy, and I am sure that A Gathering of Shadows is no exception. Plus, just look at that cover! It’s gorgeous! I just couldn’t leave it on the shelf. I had to take it home.

lastdaysTitle: The Last Days of Magic
Author: Mark Tompkins
Genre: Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016

This one was a bit of an impulse buy. I read a fabulous review of it over at The Bibliosanctum so, I added it to my TBR list. Then my husband and I were walking through Barnes and Noble and it caught my eye. I was waffling on whether or not I wanted to buy it. My husband was the deciding factor. You see, he prides himself on being able to predict whether a book is going to be good or bad based solely on the synopsis in the dust jacket. He swears this one is going to be brilliant. So, I bought it. Partly to see if he’s on a roll or not, but mostly because it sounds awesome. 

Have you read either of these? Or did you find a new gem at your local library or bookstore? Tell me what you are stacking your shelves with!

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Surviving the Slump

 

So, in my recent review of Air Awakens by Elise Kova, I mentioned that it saved me from a serious reading slump. At the time, that was true. Sadly, the slump has returned. I finished up Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes two days ago and nothing I have read since has stuck. I keep picking up books and putting them right back down. And I really can’t figure out why. They can’t all be bad, right? Some of them even have rave reviews on goodreads.

I decided that It might help claw my way out of the slump if I wrote down what was bothering about each of the books I am trying to read. Maybe not, but hey, it’s worth a shot, right?

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – I was really excited for Glass Sword. Red Queen wasn’t the best book I have ever read, but I really enjoyed it. The palace setting combined with magic training and a dash of court politics made for a really fun and easy read. I was expecting Glass Sword to have a similar feeling. Unfortunately, I am half way through it and it’s really dragging. The tone is so different from Red Queen. We’ve left the palace for the outside world and we’ve left all of the fun behind. Mare feels hollow now that her Mareena mask is gone. Cal should shine now that he is out of Maven’s shadow, but he just falls flat on the page. I really wanted to like this one, but I am considering adding it to the DNF pile.

icelikefireIce Like Fire by Sara Raasch Snow Like Ashes was another one of those fun and fast paced YA Fantasy reads. It was slightly formulaic, but enjoyable none the less. I picked up the sequel immediately after finishing it, hoping that I would devour it as well. That wasn’t the case. I thought Ice Like Fire would show us more of Winter, this place of legend. And it does start there. But then sets off on another world journey that seems to make the plot inch forward. Having Meira and Mather in separate places means the addition of  separate POV chapters, and the shifts are jarring and a bit distracting. I find myself wanting to skip Mather’s chapters all together. Please give me a reason not to DNF this one.

wolfbywolfWolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin This book was not really in my wheelhouse. But, people were raving about it on Goodreads and I was looking for something a little out of my comfort zone. So, I bought it. To be honest, I was really enjoying it… until I suddenly wasn’t. I don’t know what happened. I only have 88 pages left in this YA Alternate History, but I just can’t pick it back up. I don’t know if it was the back and forth between past and present or what, but something really threw me off. It may have been the fact that I marathoned The Man in the High Castle on Amazon. Nazi overload? But 88 pages really isn’t all that many, right? I need to just suck it up and finish it. I might even like it when I’m done.

brokenstarsThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner This one was an impulse read. I had just finished Illuminae and I really wanted more YA Sci-Fi. Turns out this one isn’t as Sci-Fi as I wanted it to be. It’s more of a survival epic. The Space opera bit is over a quarter of the way in and then it’s all romance and survival. I am really not sure if that is my thing. Maybe I should have read the synopsis a little better before I decided to dig into this one. Oh well. Now I need to decide if I am going to give it another shot or just move on. Jeez, it sounds like I am looking for relationship advice, doesn’t it? But really, has anyone else read this one? Did you love it? Hate it? If someone wouldn’t mind convincing me, I’d be forever grateful!

Ok, so those are my general opinions on the books I keep failing to read. It’s kind of depressing, right?

Can you help me out here, guys? Convince me to stick with these books. Tell me why you loved them. Forward me your reviews. Or tell me why I should move on. Hell, give me suggestions on other things to read. Anything to get me out of this rut.

Thanks in advance!

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Stunning Space Opera: A Review of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

illuminaecoverTitle: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Hardback: 599 Pages
Source: Gift

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.


This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is to do something worth remembrance.”

Five years ago a friend loaned me a copy of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I got a quarter of the way into the 700 page tome and decided it just wasn’t for me. I absolutely hated the non-traditional formatting the author used to tell his story. I considered taking scissors to the book in order to “correct” it a handful of times before I finally called it quits. I promised myself that I was done with “unique” formatting. My OCD simply couldn’t handle it.

I stuck with that promise until Christmas, when I asked for Illuminae. I couldn’t help it. I knew going in that the formatting was going to be interesting. I knew that I would probably hate it. The reviews were just too good to ignore. Plus, I can’t get enough space opera. So, I broke my promise and I read it. It took me a grand total of three days to blow through all 599 pages.

Guess what? I didn’t reach for my scissors once.

Illuminae is wonderful.

Kaufman and Kristoff took a risk with the storytelling and it really paid off. I was certain there would be issues with character development due to these decisions. I was wrong. Katy and Ezra were extremely well developed and easy to love. They even utilized IM chat speak in order to show the differences in personality. It was very well done (if a tad bit annoying at first).

This book was like reading a puzzle. The reader is constantly storing information provided in the dossier in order to piece together the entire story. It made the story more engaging. Nothing was obvious or predictable, and nothing was given away too soon. I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout most of the book.

To top it all off Illuminae is the most beautiful book I have ever owned. Each page is more visually stunning than the next. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into creating this graphic masterpiece. It is truly stunning.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Science Fiction or just wants to read something fun and attractive with a nice romance. My only suggestion would be to buy it in hardcover or paperback, as this book would be nearly impossible to read in ebook format.

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Waiting on Wednesday: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

sixTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016

From Goodreads:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.


Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Why I am waiting:

I love everything Sarah J. Maas. The Throne of glass series is basically the bar that I measure all other YA Fantasy series against, and A Court of Thorns and Roses is a beautifully crafted fair tale. I really can’t to see what she does with the world now that it is firmly in her hands and no longer a retelling.

So, between loving the Fae lore in this series and have a pretty significant crush on Lucien, this book might as well be my Waiting on Wednesday pick until it finally comes out in May. Because, in reality, I’m not very good at waiting.

So, what are you waiting on? Let me know in the comments!

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Defeating the Drought: A Review of Air Awakens by Elise Kova

sacrificeTitle: Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1)
Author: Elise Kova
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: August 27th, 2015
Kindle Edition: 377 Pages
Source: Author


A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

“I want a place you hardly dare to even whisper. I want the bravery to not only read, but to do. I want a man, not a library boy. A man who is tall and witty and knows more about the world than you would ever dare dream.”


I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  

I was in a huge reading slump when I picked up Air Awakens. I expected that I would get about five chapters into it and lose interest. After all, that is exactly what happened with the five books I picked up before it. I tried everything from Alternate History to Paranormal. Nothing stuck. It’s not that the books were bad. I just couldn’t get into them. I was absolutely sure that Air Awakens was going to be the next book on my ever growing DNF list.

I am happy to announce that I was wrong. Air Awakens sucked me in from the very beginning and refused to let go. After devouring the book in one sitting, I immediately purchased the next two books in the series, Fire Falling and Earth’s End. I just couldn’t get enough of this fun and easy fantasy series. Honestly, I still can’t. Water’s Wrath cannot come out fast enough.

That said, Air Awakens is far from perfect.

Yeah, I know that I just raved about how they saved me from the dreaded reading drought of 2016. That means this review is glowing, right? Unfortunately, no. These Fantasy-lite Romances are tons of fun on the surface, but digging deeper reveals more than a couple of issues.

While the book is a quick and easy read, the pacing in the first half of the book is awkward and clumsy. Weeks fly by in two sentences while minutes take pages. This causes the book to drag until the author finds her rhythm about halfway through.

The Solaris Empire will feel very familiar to fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In fact, I found myself filling in the holes left in the world with information from that series. I will say that the world building issues do seem to be getting better as more books come out, but I still have a list of questions that have yet to be answered. If you liked detailed settings, maybe skip this series.

Vhalla is your stereotypical YA heroine. She’s a nobody that hides in the shadows reading her books until suddenly, and without warning, she finds out that she is extremely special. Like, Last Airbender special. When I say that, I mean it literally. She’s the first person in a century that has possessed the ability to use wind magic. Making her the Last Windwalker. The special snow flake syndrome doesn’t stop there. Nope, she catches the eye of Crown Prince Aldrik (who reminds me of Prince Zuko from Avatar), the broody and erratic sorcerer who has never really loved anyone, until Vhalla.

The secondary characters almost always fall flat. They are often one dimensional, from Larel, the mentor turned confidant, to Sareem, the undeveloped and intolerant third piece of the required love triangle. The only supporting character that caught my eye was Baldair, Prince Aldrik’s golden younger brother. My attachment to him could be that I felt he was one of the better developed characters as the series progressed, or it could be that I can’t get enough of tall, blonde, and handsome. Either way, I can’t get enough Baldair.

On the upside, I found the romance scenes in this book to be pretty steamy. I didn’t exactly approve of the romance itself, though. I found Aldrik to be pretty unstable. In the interest of keeping this review as spoiler free as possible I will not go into extreme detail, but I will say that if I had been Vhalla, I wouldn’t have allowed that man anywhere near me, Crown Prince or not. Baldair, on the other hand… Well, he’s a different story.

In the end, I still devoured the series in less than three days. So, in spite of all of the problems, I will read Water’s Wrath on release day. If you like a steamy romance, or wish there had been more Avatar, or are just looking for some quick and easy Fantasy to take your mind off of life, give this a try. It’s not highbrow lit, but it sure is fun.


Recommended for: Readers who enjoyed the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Legend of Korra.

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