Stacking the Shelves #1

STACKING (2)

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!

AESTHETICS

Decorum and Dirigibles: A review of Soulless by Gail Carriger

PrintTitle: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Genre: Steampunk / Alternate History / Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: October 1st, 2009
Kindle Edition: 388 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire—and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking

“How ghastly for her, people actually thinking, with their brains, and right next door. Oh, the travesty of it all.”

I meant for this to be a review of Prudence. I even started reading it. However, the first chapter made no sense. The second, even less. I decided I had to go back and read the Parasol Protectorate.

After my self-inflicted Prudence confusion, I didn’t have high expectations for Soulless. I worried that it would be equally confusing and I would have to trudge through it in order to write this review. Boy was I wrong. My only complaint was that chapter one, while witty, was a tad awkward. Carriger made up for this in chapter two and never looked back. Neither did I.

Soulless is a clever and witty combination of genres. Steampunk and Alternate History tend to go hand in hand, but tossing Urban Fantasy into the mix is unique. And it works well. Dandy vampires and werewolves in waistcoats work out beautifully. Add in a cute, occasionally rude romance and the book just sings.

Carriger’s mix of genres isn’t the only thing unique about Soulless. Her depiction of supernatural hierarchy and social integration is new and interesting. This isn’t the first series where supernaturals live openly in society. But this is the first one I have seen that explores their regulation and official involvement in government. I loved how well this was explored and look forward to seeing growth throughout the series.

All in all this is a cute and quirky novel that will have you hooked. I read the book in one sitting, finishing it in the wee hours of the morning. I just couldn’t put it down. Knowing that there are four more books left in the series, excites me to no end. Expect reviews of the entire series and Prudence in the very near future. I doubt I will be able to pace myself with this series.

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Contemporary Lovecraftian Lore: A Review of Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

mapleTitle: Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches #1)
Author: Cherie Priest
Genre: Horror / Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Kindle Edition: 448 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one….”

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

“It sounded like music played by a madman on an instrument found in hell.”

I couldn’t wait to read Maplecroft from the moment I found it. The combination of Lovecraftian horror with a historical figure like Lizzie Borden was just too much to resist. I dove into it mere minutes after finishing my previous book. I would have devoured it in one sitting if it had not been three o’clock in the morning.

Maplecroft is immediately engaging. The plot progression started out a bit slow, but the beauty of Priest’s prose and the flawless shift of voice between characters is entrancing. I found myself drawn in. Each chapter featured letters and journal entries from the main characters as well as a cast of supporting characters who offered their own unique perspectives and opinions on the events occurring in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The main characters are all well-developed though not always likable. Lizzie often comes off as stubborn and rash while her sister Emma is selfish and her lover Nance is naïve. These little flaws bring life to the characters and make the story feel honest.

There were some minor pacing issues, leaving the bulk of the action happening in the last half of the novel. This lead to the book feeling like it might have been too long. With that said, I am likely nitpicking with these complaints as I never found myself trudging through chapters in order reach the “good stuff”.

All in all this was a fantastic read. If you are looking for something to hold your attention for a few days I couldn’t recommend anything better. Don’t rush through it. Take your time and enjoy it. It is well worth the investment.

Even though Priest did a good job of tying up loose ends in Maplecroft a sequel will hit shelves this September. I am a little skeptical, but I enjoyed this book so much that I could not skip out on the sequel.

AESTHETICS