The Bookshelf Corner

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Book Review: A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland (2nd Read)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Romance, Time-Travel, Historical Romance
Series: MacLeod, book 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via Goodreads):
Scotland, 1311. James MacLeod was the most respected—and feared—laird in all of Scotland. He loved his men like brothers and his land with a passion. And he allowed no women to cross the threshold of his keep…

New York City, 1996. With an indifferent fiancé and a stalled writing career, Elizabeth Smith found passion and adventure only in the unpublished romance novels that she wrote. Until a Scottish hero began calling to her…

Elizabeth longed for the man of her dreams. But she knew she was overworked when she began hearing his voice—when she was awake. To clear her mind, she took a walk in Gramercy Park. She dozed off on a bench—and woke up in a lush forest in fourteenth-century Scotland. A forest surrounding the castle of James MacLeod, an arrogant and handsome lord with a very familiar voice. Elizabeth would turn his ordered world upside-down and go where no woman had ever gone before: straight into his heart…


My Review:
A great beginning that will lead to more amazing stories and adventures (from someone who’s read virtually every book from both family tress; MacLeod and De Piaget).

The story is slow to start but soon takes off. Elizabeth and Jamie’s relationship is turbulent and curious from the beginning. There’s instant attraction but it takes much trail and error before they come to realize what it is they’re feeling. You come to see that the two – perhaps fated? – couple are indeed similar in grumbles, passions and loyalties.

There’s not much external danger; the conflict centered on the relationship between the main characters. But it’s a development that’s sometimes funny and adorable to watch – and of times ridiculous (in a good way).

I love the beauty of the setting – it has long since made me want to visit Scotland if ever given the chance. That combined with wonderful secondary characters made the reading experience that much more pleasant. Lynn Kurland writes a romantic yet harsh depiction of 14th century Scottish highlands, making A Dance Through Time a wonderfully told story.

Other Lynn Kurland Books Reviewed:
Dreams of Lilacs (de Piaget Family, book 16)
Ever My Love (MacLeod, book 10)
From This Moment On (de Piaget Family, book 9) (2nd Read)
Stars In Your Eyes (de Piaget Family, book 17)


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Book Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Numair Chronicles, book 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via Goodreads):
Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.


My Review:
The story I’ve been waiting to read for years did not disappoint. Nostalgic, exhilarating, tumultuous, and bittersweet; I am left one very happy reader.

Tamora Pierce does not hold back. Her words are bold. Her characters delightful but fierce. The storytelling absolutely compelling. Each moment is important. Every action a ripple in a large pond. Every hope and fear…the entire story is as wonderful as it is heartbreaking.

Arram is everything I imagined his younger self to be and the man he grows to be before fleeing Carthak. He’s highly gifted and intelligent – as are his friends – but also incredibly – sometimes comically – innocent. He does his best to get by in school and learn all he can, demonstrating a genuine desire for knowledge in all forms, shapes and sizes. This book just further cemented my love for Arram/Numair’s character.

Before reading, I only had a few memories and impressions from when I read Emperor Mage, The Immortals quartet/book 3 where Ozorne is really first introduced. So when I began Tempests and Slaughter, I noticed the red flags – where Ozorne is concerned – very early on. However, I do like his character in this book. He undergoes a deep character change throughout the story – a slow, simmering change founded on fiery vengeance and sharp intelligence.

I liked Varice’s character at first but I quickly got the impression that she was two-faced. Some of her actions seemed like she was subtly using Ozorne and Arram. I do not doubt that her friendship with them is somewhat genuine. But I believe she will show her true colors in the next book.

love the cover; it’s gorgeous and perfectly fitting for the overall tone of this series. A simple feather (I have a guess from what) dripped in gold (a very Carthaki color/object), and what look like small specs of burning ash from a fire…all at the forefront of a dark blue/black background. Exquisitely designed.

The danger the lies beneath the story is just getting started and I can’t wait to see where the story goes in the next book, The Exile’s Gift.

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Women’s History Month 2018: My Favorite Female Characters

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For today’s post, I wanted to recognize female characters who I admire and view as trailblazers in their own way.

Encompassing a wide span of ages and circumstance, these character have shaped not only how I see things but the world in which they live in. Within their stories, they have proven to be resilience, courage, and heart in the face of adversity that would have otherwise kept them in a prescribe box.

I love these characters for their strength and vitality. I am fascinated by how they choose to navigate the world. I admire how they are able to rise up after being knocked down countless times in order to overcome – not just for themselves but for others. And I respect the good – big and small – that they leave behind long after their stories are over.

*I left out the why to avoid spoilers but included my reviews posted for if you wanted an inkling of why I put certain characters on this list.


Alanna of Trebond
from Song of the Lioness quartet – Tamora Pierce

Keladry of Mindelan
from Protector of the Small quartet – Tamora Pierce
Lady Night (book 4)

Thayet jian Wilima
from Torall universe – Tamora Pierce

Beka Cooper
from Beka Cooper trilogy – Tamora Piercce
Mastiff (book 3)

Yelena Zaltana
from Study series – Maria V. Snyder
Shadow Study (book 4) | Night Study (book 5) | Dawn Study (book 6)

from Study series – Maria V. Snyder

Irys Jewelrose
from Study series – Maria V. Snyder

Miranda Grey
from A Shadow World Novel series – Dianne Sylvan

from Star of the Morning, The Mage’s Daughter, Princess of the Sword (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms series) – Lynn Kurland

from Snow Like Ashes trilogy – Sara Raasch
Snow Like Ashes (book 1) | Ice Like Fire (book 2) | Frost Like Night (book 3)

Rhoma Grace
from Zodiac quartet – Romina Russell
Zodiac (book 1)| Wandering Star (book 2) | Black Moon (book 3)

Libby Strout
from Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven

Sorcha of Sevenwaters
from Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters series) – Juliet Marilier

Maeve of Sevenwaters
from Flame of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters series) – Juliet Marillier

from Mustaches for Maddie – Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

My question to you: Who are your favorite female characters and why?

And, As Always, Happy Reading!!!



Magic In Fiction: Common Threads I’ve Observed

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I really enjoy reading books that involve magic. I think I’m so attracted to this aspect of fiction is because the first book that really got me into reading was a YA Fantasy novel that was all encompassing magic. Not to mention you can get very inventive with magic, its properties, and uses.

I’ve been meaning to write this posts since way last year, but never really got around to written it. Originally, the idea was to write a general discussion about magic in fiction. But I was recently more inspire to write a post about the types and usages magic in fiction, the common threads I’ve observed through extensive reading.

Nature / Elements / Seasons

Magic that comes from the land. Elemental magic associated with fire, water, wind, air, earth, metal, lightning, wood, etc. Magic derived from the four seasons: spring, summer, winter, autumn. This type may also present itself as the ability to communicate with animal life.

Everyone Has Magic

A magical society in which everyone has and can use magic.

NOT Everyone Has Magic

A world in which a group of people or country have magic but others don’t. Sometimes the separation is between humans and magical beings.


In which magic in general or a particular magic is passed down through a familial, maternal or paternal bloodline.


Magic that is conducted through objects, typically staves, wands, swords, rings, orbs, rocks/stones, arrows, etc.

Spells / Incantations

An arrangement of words cast in order to use magic, sometimes involving or learned from a book of spells.

Mages / Wizards / Witches / Magicians

General names for magic users (if a story chooses to use these titles).

Seers / Oracles

Characters who can foresee the past, present and/or future. This is done through visions, bowls of water, looking into fire, or looking into an orb. These characters can be interpreted as having magic or mediators of a higher being. This ability is unpredictable.

Gifted / Bestowed

Characters referred to as being “Gifted” – or some other such title denoted to magic users – with magic or have magic given to them. This sometimes occurs through a higher being or god, depending on the universe.


Magic possessed by a particular individual that is predicted to do great harm or good, the views and expectations of which are discerned depending on how one interprets the prophecy.

Magic That Manifests Later

A character who possesses magic since birth but doesn’t know it. This character will grow up in a normal, human way until a certain event incites the magic within to manifest.

These are different variations and characteristics of magic I’ve seen in books I’ve read; each one observed occurring in more than one book.

What do you think about magic in fiction? What other types of magic would you add to this list or include with what’s already listed? I’d love to hear what you think about this topic.



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Book Review: Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles, book 3
Rating: 1 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: No


Summary (via Goodreads):
Who is Catalia Fisa?
With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin’s role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step–reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.

What doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger…we hope.


My Review:
This book was a huge letdown for me.

Where did the Cat from Book 1 go?

The Cat in this book spent the entire novel stubbornly refusing to see the truth that was right in front of her, a truth that several people had pointed out to her throughout the entire series but she refused to believe. On and off again it would seem like she was coming around to her destiny but then something would go wrong and she’d back peddle several steps.

There came a point where I wondered if she would ever get it. I understand her reluctance but if you can’t believe yourself or the most important person in your life (Griffin) or a god(s), then I don’t know what she’s going do. We spend way too much time in Cat’s head listening to her litany of self-victimization. Yes, this series is written in  First Person so internal thoughts are a given but this was too much and annoying.

Why are characters endlessly talking?

Scenes also stretched longer than they should – like several chapters to do just one scene – because characters spent way too much time talking instead of getting to the point. Some times all this talking was at inappropriate times like in the middle of a fight. It really detracted from the reading experience. For example, the first scene was – if I remember – about 60 odd pages, and the entire book is only 380 pages. It made me wonder because we spent so much time on that first scene – which would have been great if there hadn’t been so much talking – would there be enough remaining pages to really tell the story. Not really. This might be comparing apples to oranges but I see things like this in anime often. Characters will watch a bad guy power up for a certain amount of time and just stand there watching instead of doing something to stop the bad guy. That’s what it felt like I was seeing here at times.

Why is the antagonist so weak after so much hype?

The main antagonist is Cat’s mom, Andromeda, the Queen of Fisa. Based on what Cat tells us, her mother has been this intimidating, cruel, powerful, invisible force looming over the horizon. Clearly, she would be the final boss, so to speak. I was really looking forward to what the inevitable confrontation with Cat’s mom. I am so disappointed by not only those confrontation scenes but Andromeda’s character was sorely weak for a supposedly all-powerful antagonist. Reality of whatever scenes Andromeda was in didn’t fully match up with what Cat had been describing all along.

The above things I mentioned just didn’t make sense on the whole. After so much preparation for a final battle there ended being nothing. Seemed like a cop-out ending to me, too easy of a conclusion. I was close to marking this book as DNF. This wasn’t the conclusion I expected nor the conclusion I believe this story deserves.


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Book Review: The Winter King by C. L. Wilson

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romance Fantasy
Series: Weathermages of Mystral, book 1
Rating: 2.5/5
Recommend to Others?: No


Summary (via Goodreads):
After three long years of war, starkly handsome Wynter Atrialan will have his vengeance on Summerlea’s king by taking one of the man’s beautiful, beloved daughters as his bride. But though peace is finally at hand, Wynter’s battle with the Ice Heart, the dread power he embraced to avenge his brother’s death, rages on.

Khamsin Coruscate, Princess of Summerlea and summoner of Storms, has spent her life exiled to the shadows of her father’s palace. Reviled by her father, marriage to Wintercraig’s icy king was supposed to be a terrible punishment, but instead offers Kham her first taste of freedom—and her first taste of overwhelming passion.

As fierce, indomitable Wynter weathers even Khamsin’s wildest storms, surprising her with a tenderness she never expected, Kham wants more than Wynter’s passion—she yearns for his love. But the power of the Ice Heart is growing, dangerous forces are gathering, and a devastating betrayal puts Khamsin and Wynter to the ultimate test.


My Review:
I had high hopes for this book. Based on the premise (seemed like the kind of books I like) and author (I’m familiar with her work and think she’s great at world-building), I thought this would be a really good read. Post-read, I’m kind of disappointed, and only kind-of because there’s 594 pages and much to consider. There’s more to the story than what the synopsis offers. That made rating this book difficult, but I’ve settled upon a middle of the road score.

Wynter is everything you want in a romance novel protagonist: loyal, handsome, intelligent, strong, family-oriented. He is the bright snowy part of the novel. However, he is can be very blind to what’s in front of him, easily persuaded to put Khamsin in an “other” box despite his vows, and one too many times (in the beginning) assumes things and gets outwitted. Still, he is one of three likable characters in the entire story.

Khamsin is stubborn and rebellious to a fault – often childishly so, in my opinion – but kind and loyal deep down. I think being boxed in the princess-trapped-in-a-tower trope and her stubborn/rebellious nature was off-putting from the get-go. One can attribute the wildness in part to her weathermage powers – storms – but I’m not entirely convinced. But I do root for her when she attempts to be apart of her new world despite the wicked backlash she  receives just because she’s from a different country.

The biggest dislike I had of the book was the tone of suspicion and hate that drenched the novel – and this was happening on both sides (Wintercraig and Summerlea) equally. The open prejudice. The hostility towards someone an outsider. The assumptions made about someone based on their nationality and family ties. The hunger for power at any cost. War only served to deepen such views – again on both sides. Much of the death, betrayal, and destruction might have been avoided as Wynter tried to do for many years. It all made my heart hurt.

The cover – as pretty as it is – bothered me because the two people on it are not what is described in the book. Wynter is described as seven feet tall with golden skin and long white-ish hair. Khamsin could be a little shorter, the volume of her hair is right but is missing the noticeable white streaks. Not a big deal on the whole, but for some reason it bother me.

I would still read books by C. L. Wilson, but I do not plan to read book 2 of this series.



ARC Book Review + Book Release Day: Fade to Us by Julia Day

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.
Happy Book Release Day! to Fade to Us by Julia Day

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via NetGalley):
Julia Day’s Fade to Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love.

Brooke’s summer is going to be EPIC— having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s–and Brooke’s not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs.

After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah–the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn’t Natalie’s mentor…

When her summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants–and the love she’s only dreamed about?


My Review:
I loved Fade to Us by Julia Day. It was such a fantastic read that I couldn’t put down for two whole days – it’s that compelling of a story.

I didn’t know much about Asperger’s before reading this and have no experience with people who do have it, but I feel more informed post-read. The way the author presents what it’s like for someone with Asberger’s and how it feels to live with/take care of someone with Asberger’s (to me) came across as beautifully written, natural, honest, and real. But again I can’t say for 100% sure of its authenticity. These impression I base off of my experiences/interactions with people with other developmental and psychological disabilities.

Brooke is an admirably self-less person for giving up so much for someone she technically doesn’t know, who is sometimes too much for her, but who she wants to embrace as family. But this self-lessness has consequences despite its good intentions, creating lots of tension and suspense throughout the story. Brooke struggles to find some kind of balance between her personal life, getting along with her step-father, Jeff, and helping her step-sister, Natalie. Despite these struggles, the progression of Brooke and Natalie’s relationship is (character development-wise) well-written.

Natalie’s character is great as well. She’s a great person in general. I think a few times her family underestimated her tolerance level and ability to observe/understand. I get their hesitation and need to protect her, especially from having meltdowns. But I also agree with one character that she’ll never learn how to deal with the bad parts of life if she’s always sheltered (that goes for anyone). (Again, I’m no expert here). Natalie’s view on things, though at times painfully blunt, are insightful when you really think about what she’s saying. Post-read, I wonder what this story would be like if we got alternating chapters of Brooke and Natalie’s POVS. This story feels very much like it’s both their story, not just Brooke’s.

Micah I liked but he’s more of a background character, a kind of plot device if you will. He’s there but his presence is as limited as his character development, short-lived and not enough depth to dive in to. I appreciate how he (and others) treated and talked to Natalie like she was a person, just like everyone else.

Great story. Wonderful characters. Pretty cover. Awesome that musical theater was involved. And loved the sister-sister relationship. Fade to Us deserves a standing ovation. Brava, Julia Day, brava!