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Stacking the Shelves #38

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Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga, where book lovers get to share what their latest additions to their book shelves are.

Look! A post I didn’t schedule weeks and weeks ago! Yay!

Yeah, I’m pretty excited right now because I actually have time to blog properly and so I plan on scheduling quite a few posts. It’s very exciting. I’ve also got a few new books to share – a couple were birthday presents from a few weeks ago and another was an impulse buy.

Elizabeth Wein - Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein

I’ve already read this one – I listened to it as an audiobook over the summer – but I really wanted a physical copy, so I got it for my birthday! I’m definitely planning on rereading it soon.

Brandon Sanderson - The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Another birthday present, and I’m really looking forward to this one. The first book was brilliant!

Michelle Hodkin - The Retribution of Mara Dyer

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin

I finished this one today and loved it a lot. There’ll be a review pretty soon!

In other news, uni’s been going well. I’ve had one test which counts towards one of my modules, and coursework has just been handed out. The course and the societies and stuff is great. What’s not so good is the fact that the sockets in our kitchen lost power yesterday – including the three fridges/freezers. It’s sort of sorted out at the moment, but we our microwaves and kettles etc. still don’t work. Oh well, we’ll manage.

EDIT: Thankfully, everything’s now fixed but maintentance took quite some time to sort it out.

What books did you get this week? And how’s your week been?

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Mini Review: Between Shades of Grey

Ruta Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray

 

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction like The Book Thief or Code Name Verity, chance are that you’ll like this book. It may also break your heart a little.

What I really liked about this book was the fact that it went into detail about a part of the war that isn’t talked about as much. It focused on Russia and the work camps in Siberia and I found it was a really interesting read. It was hard to read at times though because of the horrific things that were happening. It was definitely worth the read though, and I really felt like I learnt quite a bit.

I got quite attached to some of the characters too, and I really felt for Lina the whole way through. Her story was so horrific and I just wanted to give her a hug throughout the whole book. I had to know if she’d be alright, and if she ever saw her father again, and what would happen to Andrius. There were so many reasons to keep reading! This book really broke my heart at times, but it was so good! It got me really emotional at times and it’s a really sad book, but I will happily recommend it to anybody.

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Review: The Tale of Atterberry (The Faire Pendant #1)

Leah Price - The Tale of Atterberry

Glenna’s life is anything but ordinary. The daughter of Renaissance festival vendors, Glenna’s days are filled with magic and medieval reenactments as she travels the faire circuit with her family.

Then one day, Glenna’s life changes forever. With the help of a pendant, she discovers Otherworld. An enchanted realm, Otherworld is the land in which all of the myths and magic woven by the Renaissance players comes to life!

Suddenly, Glenna is thrust into a quest filled with danger and deception when Atterberry, a great and powerful magician in Otherworld, needs help recovering a stolen item.

Can Glenna find the item in time? Can she summon the courage to become the medieval hero the residents of Otherworld expect her to be? And perhaps most importantly, can she juggle both her life in the real world and her life in Otherworld without damaging either?

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

I thought this book was very sweet and charming. It’s a got a really nice story that sets up the plot for later books, and is a good little middle grade adventure. It tells the story of eleven year old Glenna who discovers the Otherworld, a world based on the imagination of the people she knows. It’s similar to her own world, but the people there are all just a bit different to what she’s used to. It’s really sweet, and I enjoyed reading this story.

Glenna and her family move around with a renaissance faire, which I thought was such a cool setting for the book. It’s not something I’ve seen before, and I really liked all the details that came with having a setting like this. The idea of the Otherworld (or “Dychymyg”) was really interesting too, and it was populated by who the people in Glenna’s world sort of imagined themselves to be. For example, a typical magician that Glenna was friends with in the real world saw himself as a really awesome magician with real magic, and so that’s what he became in the Otherworld. There were some really nice ideas in this book.

The plot itself wasn’t the most exciting, and I kind of wish that there’s more action in later books, but I did enjoy the whole mystery that was going on. I liked that Glenna had to find clues and also had to struggle with not talking about the whole new world that she’d just discovered. Glenna herself was a really sweet character, and I really liked her relationship with her family, especially her brother. I can imagine that relationship will be important in later books.

Overall, it’s a really nice children’s books with a lovely little story. I’m excited to see what will happen to Glenna in future books!

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Really, Really Busy

I feel like I haven’t really posted anything in ages – all I’ve got going up at the moment is scheduled reviews from a while ago. The main reason for my absence is that I have so much work do right now! I get five problem sheets every week to hand in on my uni course and they all take so much time. I’m really enjoying the work, but I wish I had more time to blog. Anyway, I’m just popping in to say that I definitely won’t be posting regularly for a while, but I’ll still be reviewing and doing the occasional top ten. I’ll hopefully be able to keep up with other blogs though!

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Review: Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1)

Josephine Angelini - Trial by Fire

The exhilaratingly seductive new series from the author of the bestselling Starcrossed series

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted…which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

This is the first book I’ve read by Josephine Angelini, and I’ll admit, I was expecting more. The blurb for this book makes it sounds so awesome, and yet the book itself is just a bit, well, ‘meh’. I mean, the idea behind it got me so excited – a parallel universe where witches in charge of energy, and science is looked down on? It sounds brilliant. Sadly, it was a bit of a let down.

I think the main reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping too was because of the romance. I felt that it took over the plot too much, especially considering that Lily and Rowan didn’t even know each other that long. Personally, I would’ve been happier if more time had been spent on the actual plot and the idea of parallel words. The romance just started to annoy me a little.

I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the main characters, Lily and Rowan. I just couldn’t connect to them much and their romance annoyed me. To be fair, there were some scenes with them that I did like, but they tended to be the parts where Lily was discovering her magic rather than when she and Rowan were being couple-y.

I did like a lot of the side characters though. Although she wasn’t in the book a huge amount, I really liked Juliet, Lily’s sister. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an older sister that I connected with her more, but I just preferred reading about Juliet. I was also a fan of Rowan’s friends, Tristan and Caleb. They were both a lot of fun, and far less serious about everything than Rowan. It would’ve been nice to see them more in the book.

One of the highlights of this book was the world. I love the idea of parallel worlds, and I really enjoyed reading about the differences in this one. The descriptions were so interesting, as was the totally different history of the world. I really liked that aspect of the book.

Overall, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Trial by Fire, but it did have its good points. If you’re a bigger fan of romance than me, chances are that you’ll probably enjoy this book more than me too.

Would you love to be able to visit parallel worlds?

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Review: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

Morgan Matson - Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

I LOVED the last Morgan Matson book I read, Since You’ve Been Gone. That meant that I was really excited about reading this one, and also terrified. What if it didn’t live up to the awesomeness of SYBG? Well, it almost did. I prefer SYBG just a little bit, but I loved this one too. I mean, it’s made me really want to take a road trip now because it sounds so fun!

Onto the review, which is going to be done in the form of a list. Because why not?

Why I Loved Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

  1. PLAYLISTS! I loved this about SYBG too, but it was even better in this book because MUSICALS. I love musicals (although I haven’t seen that many) so the moment I finished this I added all of Amy’s playlist songs to a spotify playlist. It’s all such good music!
  2. THE TRAVEL NOTES! Amy was really reluctant about going on the road trip at the start but she really gets into documenting it. I loved the pictures and the little comments that were scattered throughout the book, and I’ve heard that Morgan Matson took the pictures herself (which is awesome).
  3. ROAD TRIP! As I’ve already said, I really want to go on a road trip. Like, right now. But I can’t, so I’ll have to be content with reading about one. Amy and Roger have so much fun while they’re traveling all over the states and it was great exploring America with them.
  4. FRIENDSHIP! Friendship in books is important to me, and it’s in this book for quite a while. Reading about Amy and Roger’s relationship developing was so fun, and I really liked the parts where they opened up to each other completely.
  5. FLASHBACKS! This also came up in SYBG (I seem to be referencing it a lot) and it worked really well in this book too. I was desperate to know exactly what had happened when Amy’s father died and this book did give me a lot of feelings at time.
  6. ROMANCE! The romance was lovely in this book and it developed nice and slowly and was really cute and it definitely suited the book.

I still prefer Since You’ve Been Gone to this book by a margin, but Amy and Roger is an amazing book in it’s own right. It has lots of fun music, lots of humour and great relationships. It’s definitely worth the read!

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Review: Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1)

Kelley Armstrong - Sea of Shadows

They hear the spirits. They must obey.

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed by an ancient evil, Moria and Ashyn must race to warn the empire of a terrifying threat. Accompanied by a dashing thief and a warrior with a dark history, the sisters battle their way across a wasteland filled with reawakened monsters of legend. But there are more sinister enemies waiting for them at court – and a secret that will alter the balance of their world forever.

The first volume in the Age of Legends trilogy, Sea of Shadows is a thrilling dark fantasy where evil hides in every shadow and the deadliest monsters of all come in human form . . .

It’s actually been a while since I read this book, and while at the time I thought it was pretty good, it seems that this is not a particularly memorable book. Thank goodness I wrote some notes because it’s all sort of a blur at the moment for this book!

What I do remember was that this book was a bit different to what I was expecting. I thought it would be a typical fantasy book (which it kind of was), but it had quite a few creepy moments at the beginning of the book which I really liked. Actually, the plot in general was a lot of fun and I did enjoy the story. It surprised me quite a few times during the book, especially a plot twist at the end.

However, what did stop me from enjoying the book as much were the short chapters. I love short chapters as much as the next person, but here they felt too short. Especially at the start, a chapter would end in the middle of a scene and then carry on again in exactly the same place in the next chapter. Why split it? It definitely broke up the flow of the book.

It did have several interesting characters, and I loved the twins who are at the centre of the story. Ashyn is so adorable and friendly, and then she can be really awesome at talking and negotiating and stuff, whereas Moria does a lot more of the fighting. She’s also brilliant. I was worried for a bit that there would be a really awkward love triangle, but thankfully it didn’t emerge. The other characters, like Gavril and Ronan, are really sweet as well and interesting to read about.

There’s a lot of banter too which is always a good sign! Overall, it was a fun read (although not the most memorable) and it’s worth reading if you’re a fantasy fan.