The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


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New Books Added To My TBR List!

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay | Edited in Paint

Last week, I found a good amount of books to add to my TBR list that I’m looking forward to reading. There are others not included below but have been marked as Want to Read on Goodreads for now because I don’t know if I’m going to/will get to reading them.

This list is – as usual – a mix of genres: from middle grade to young adult contemporary, and urban fantasy to paranormal romance. I’m also happy that half these books are from authors I haven’t read from before.

 

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi (reading soon)

A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson, book 1)

Under A Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 16)
Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 18) (Currently Reading)
Vampire Most Wanted by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 20)

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross (The Queen’s Rising, book 1)

Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk

Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson (Tairen Soul, book 1) (1st official read)


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!

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Book Review: The Caldera by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 7
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes, Reluctantly

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
The Herons take to the high seas to fend off pirates and rescue the heir to an empire…..

In Hallasholm, Stig is contesting the annual Maktig competition to decide Skandia’s greatest warrior. But a late-night knock on the door brings someone Stig never expected to see again, along with a request the Herons are hard-pressed to refuse: a rescue mission of epic proportions.

Across the ocean, the southern city-state of Byzantos is plagued by a crew of pirates who’ve kidnapped the son of Empress Justina. Slipping out of Hallasholm under the cover of darkness, the brotherband sets sail to recover the boy from his kidnappers, heading south to the island of Santorillos where a near-impenetrable fortress stands atop a cliff, surrounded by a lagoon–a caldera–formed by the crater of a volcano.

In this explosive seventh book in the action-packed Brotherband Chronicles, the Herons battle pirates amid stormy seas as the fate of an empire rests on their shoulders.

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Quick Note: This book contains a Ranger’s Apprentice short story featuring WIll and Maddie that I decided not to read – perhaps in the future I will.

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My Review:
This book could have been so much more.

I love that we get this “confrontation” with Stig’s father, Olaf (kind of obvious who the late-night visitor is after six books). We get a more concrete sense of Stig’s childhood anger and why Olaf left. Stig and his mother were ostracized for a long time because of Olaf’s transgressions, so I too wanted to know why. It was one of those cases where the child should not be punished for their parent’s sins. I admire Stig’s choice to help his father while trying to get to know the man and obtain some sort of closure before passing a final judgement. I had some doubts about that decision but nonetheless supported him.

Despite my immediate dislike for Olaf, he’s one of the most contrasting characters from the Herons in this entire series. He’s also perhaps the most opposing “antagonist.” Olaf does score points for a couple of good deeds done in the story.

This series’ modus operandi. is getting old, causing the reading experience to become lackluster. It’s been like this since book 4 or 5. The Herons travel once more to an unknown but rather cool and beautifully described land (this time, think Byzantine Empire and Constantinople). Hal once more displays his genius as a helmsman but stays humble about it – I still love Hal’s character though. The antagonist is an invader/raider-type force who is easily defeated. And all the while there isn’t much character growth and love is for sure in the air but unacknowledged.

I’m okay with authors using the same set-up in their books, but that only works – in my opinion – if the cast of characters/MCs are different each time. The Brotherband Chronicles is a long series featuring the same principle characters. By this point I’ve feel I know plenty about each character – strengths, weakness, personalities, etc. It’s past time the Herons face a real, irrevocably changing challenge, adversary and/or failure that effects at least a few of the Herons and lingers in subsequent books.

Some small wins for me: the beginning with the Maktig contest, the lovely cover art, continued Ulf and Wolf antics, and the ever faithful/always wonderful Kloof.

I will keep reading this series because I love John Flanagan’s books, his writing and how he creates his worlds and characters. Also, I want to know how the Brotherband Chronicles ends.


My Reviews: The Outcasts (book 1) | The Invaders (book 2) | The Hunters (book 3) | Slaves of Socorro (book 4) | Scorpion Mountain (book 5) | The Ghostfaces (book 6)


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Book Review: The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 6
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):

When the Brotherband crew are caught in a massive storm at sea, they’re blown far off course and wash up on the shores of a land so far west that Hal can’t recognize it from any of his maps. Eerily, the locals are nowhere in sight, yet the Herons have a creeping feeling they are being watched.
 
Suddenly the silence is broken when a massive, marauding bear appears, advancing on two children. The crew springs into action and rescues the children from the bear’s clutches, which earns them the gratitude and friendship of the local Mawagansett tribe, who finally reveal themselves. But the peace is short-lived. The Ghostfaces, a ruthless, warlike tribe who shave their heads and paint their faces white, are on the warpath once more. It’s been ten years since they raided the Mawagansett village, but they’re coming back to pillage and reap destruction. As the enemy approaches, the Herons gear up to help their new friends repel an invasion.
 
In this sixth book in the action-packed Brotherband Chronicles, the Herons find themselves in unfamiliar lands and prepare for battle with a ruthless, unknown enemy.

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My Review:
An action-packed story with a rather weak enemy, but still a real page turner.

A decision that nearly costs the Herons their lives begins the story. Although their treacherous journey through the storm could have been shorten considerably, this Part is really effective in eliciting an emotional response from the reader. Once the Herons arrive on an unknown land, the tone is already set in place.

The conflict with the storm and the bear were more dangerous and risky than the marauding Ghostfaces. The enemy tribe was defeated with the same ease the Herons defeated the assassins-cult in the previous book, which was disappointing.

John Flanagan blends history into his books so well without being so obvious about it. His writing is seamless and he’s very detailed and creative with his allusions. It made seeing the Mawagansett people and Herons acclimating and getting to know each other so much more wonderful.

There were a few sad, heartbreaking moments and decisions, so the ending was hard to accept – but it is what it is.


My Reviews: The Outcasts (book 1) | The Invaders (book 2) | The Hunters (book 3) | Slaves of Socorro (book 4) | Scorpion Mountain (book 5)


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Book Review: Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 5
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
… Fresh off of victory over their longtime nemesis, Tursgud, Hal and the Herons, summoned by King Duncan, set sail for Castle Araluen. Thrust into the dangerous world of Araluen, the Herons learn of a threat to Queen Evanlyn and whispers of a deadly sect known as the Scorpion Cult. Rumors say that Iqbal, who previously tried to assassinate Evanlyn at her wedding to Horace, might be planning another attempt. Not waiting to see if the knife will strike true, the Herons join forces with Gilan and his fellow Rangers to track down the would-be assassins.

In this fifth book in the Brotherband Chronicles, old friends re-emerge to take on new enemies as the worlds of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband join forces!

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My Review:
This was a good read but the conflicts left a lot to be desired.

I loved seeing characters from the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband Chronicles collide – it felt like a homecoming or reunion of all the characters you’ve come to know and love. I just wish the characters introduced in Ranger’s Apprentice (besides Gilan) had more to do instead of being impressed by the Heron crew – though I will say those moments offered much brevity and laughter. This is in part because the Herons are really young so there’s the assumption that youth equals inexperience or incapable. The other part I think is because it hasn’t been that long since Skandia stopped it’s raiding ways so characters from other countries still maintain this long-held idea of Skandians being barbaric-esque.

Yes, the Herons are impressive and highly capable for once being a motley crew of outcasts. Even a few of the band had major character growth in this story. But it seems Scorpion Mountain was a way to showoff the skills the Herons had acquired so far. Additionally, post-read it seemed there was no way for them to lose. Not once did I think, oh no! how will they defeat the bad guys?! The conflicts weren’t big enough or imposing enough. As far as the Herons were concerned, the obstacles faced were child’s play for the most part. That is, there was an almost ease with which they succeeded. Of course, there was a major shock that would normally upset and dismantle such a tight-knit group and I though for sure it would be a major blow. But they more realistically rose to the occasion even though the outcome appeared bleak.

That said, Hal’s ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. He’s a highly intelligent young man and leader. He’s able to think far outside the box and devise something incredible. He’s learned from past mistakes and stays humble when he gets it right, remembering that any plan, even the most well-thought-out, won’t always go as planned and could fail.

But I did enjoy reading this book and can’t wait to catch up on the rest of the series.


My Reviews: The Outcasts (book 1) | The Invaders (book 2) | The Hunters (book 3) | Slaves of Socorro (book 4)


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More 2018 Anticipated Book Releases

Image via Goodreads

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

May 22

Simon Pulse
Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Summary (via Goodreads):
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

[My Thoughts?] I’m immediately intrigued by the book’s description and can relate to the main character who simple wants to share stores with everyone. I also liked that the main character is an aspiring, female filmmaker. However, there is this implication of a love-triangle – a small thing for me but I am still interested in reading this book.


Image via Goodreads

Your Lion Eyes by Christine Warren (Alphaville, book 2)

December 4

St. Martin’s Press
Paranormal Romance

Summary (via Goodreads):
Molly Buchanan is a lioness on the prowl. Unfortunately, since she’s been prowling through the same town for her entire life, she’s down to some pretty slim pickings in the dating department. But the minute she sets eyes on the new bachelor in town, her lioness starts to purr and plans to do some serious rubbing up against Grady Emerson. 

Newly arrived in Alpha, Washington, Grady just wants to settle in and do his job as the town’s newest deputy. But even this rogue-bear sheriff knew Molly Buchanan was trouble the minute he laid eyes on her. She might be smoking hot, sharp as a tack, and funny as hell, but she is also his friend’s younger sister, and there are some things a good man just doesn’t do-no matter how much his bear might want to devour her.

[My Thoughts?]loved the first book. Although the premise for this second installment is something I’ve seen before, I think it’ll still be another good story. Shifter stories are always fun to read. I just wish the publication date wasn’t so far away!


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Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: “The way he talked about thoughts was the way I experienced them—not as a choice but as a destiny. Not a catalog of my consciousness, but a refutation of it.”

“When my thoughts spiraled, I was in the spiral, and of it. And I wanted to tell him that the idea of being in a feeling gave language to something I couldn’t describe before, created a form for it, but I couldn’t figure out how to say any of that out loud.”

“Me: You’re not your money.
Him: Then what am I? What is anyone?
Me: I is the hardest word to define.
Him: Maybe you are what you can’t be.
Me: Maybe…

 

Summary (via Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimedshares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

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My Review:
Turtles All the Way Down is a heart-warming and real representation of the infinity-like state of being that is anxiety and the irresistible, automatic rituals of obsessive compulsive disorders. John Green offers a unique prospective, awareness and approach to these mental health disorders that Aza, the main character, experiences.

Aza is a fantastic character and individual. She uses metaphor after metaphor – stacked under one giant umbrella of a metaphor – in order to describe internally and vocally the anxious thoughts that have plagued her for unknown years (always it seems) and the things she must do to satisfy those all-powerful thoughts. Her narrative is incredibly raw and, in my opinion, an accurate representation of what the inside of a truly anxious mind looks and feels like. Aza is tough despite her inability to fight the thoughts that gnaw at her daily. She does her best to live with anxiety and get better, but struggles with who she is and what I means – physically, mentally, emotionally and biologically.

I didn’t care for Daisy, Aza’s best friend. Daisy is more reckless, self-serving and irritating than anything. Her ultimate reason for her behavior and “coping” methods for dealing with Aza seemed juvenile and downright mean. I do give her credit for trying to maintain the friendship – Aza’s current level anxiety isn’t something a teenager is exactly prepared for, which Aza acknowledges – but still…

I liked Davis but he’s kind of just there. His family situation is the vehicle for Aza’s story to progress. There’s no character growth for him, just a coming-to-terms with the unexpected and crazy new life his father has left him and his brother to navigate.

I also liked that the inciting incident is a runaway billionaire fugitive. Strange. Kind of at odds with Aza’s story. But a hook that keeps you interested.

The title does come up in the book and offers an “explanation” of why the book is called what it is. I get it in terms of the context of the conversation it occurs in. And the random orange spiral on the cover makes sense now – simple and effective. But, overall, I’m still confused about the turtle aspect.

This is the first book I’ve read by John Green and I absolutely loved it. The writing is so him – creative, intelligent, quirky and honest.