The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….

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TBR At A Glance – 3/16/18

Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m actually ahead of my reading schedule. Everything I wanted to read this month I finished up this week, which is shocking and unusual. So I’m actually going to get a jump-start on the books I have planned to read for April, mostly because those books are 300/400+ pages each.

You can follow me on Goodreads to stay up-to-date on what I’m reading. Are you on Goodreads? Let’s connect!

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Currently Reading

  • Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 5)


Reading Next

  • The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 6)
  • The Caldera by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 7)
  • Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega, book 5)


Recent Reviews


Reviews Coming Soon

  • March 20 – Blood Veil by Megan Erickson (ARC review)
  • March 22 or 29? – The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela (ARC review)

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Book Review: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce (with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, Megan Messinger)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via Goodreads):
The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness. This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall!


My Review:
Before I begin: I say I’d recommend it to others, but a part of m is also hesitant to recommend it to who isn’t familiar with the other books based in Tortall. Not just for the sake of understanding what’s written herein, but to avoid potential spoilers (although the timeline is graciously missing important plot points). I just want others to be able to make the most out of reading this book because it was so good.


This was amazing to read – perfect for every Tamora Pierce fan. I loved that the pages were transformed to look like a bound collection of guides, profiles, definitions, sketches, and letters. The addition of ink stains on the pages and (2D) wax crests was a nice touch. This guide provides inside knowledge – a behind-the-scenes, if you will – to various events (mundane and crucial) into the lives and people of Tortall and neighboring lands.

It’s a lot of information to adsorb. And if you’ve read all the Tortall universe books prior to this, it will make your head (pleasantly) spin as you recall fond memories of old. The lot of it really makes you think, especially about how to craft characters in terms of behavior and intrigue.

Although it’s not a chronological collection of papers and such of happenings, there is a feel of a narrative and a reasonable order which the authors chose to present each new tidbit. I love that the book concludes with a complete chronological timeline of Tortallian events.

I am curious as to why there is only a brief paragraph referencing the Beka Cooper series, which takes place a few centuries prior to Alanna: The First Adventure. If it’s a matter of importance to the realm’s security and persons of interest, then I can see why it might be excluded. However, I would think there’d be pertinent information included in the end-section timeline, such as when Beka was born.Or would this all be pointless since her books are dated as journal entries?

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this, even though it’s “written” by one of my favorite fictional characters, George Cooper. But I really enjoyed reading more about one of my favorite fantasy worlds. It was a pleasant and delightful reading experience – so compelling I could hardly put it down.

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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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Recommend Magic-Centric Book Series

Today’s post is sort of a continuation from a recent post I did on the common types of magic I’ve observed in fiction. I went through the archives of books I’ve read and found the best series centered around magic or incorporate it in some way. I highly recommend these books and authors.


Circle of Magic – Tamora Pierce

*all books by this author I’d recommend as additional examples


Study – Maria V. Snyder

My Reviews: Book 4 | Book 5 | Book 6

*all books by this author I’d recommend as additional examples


A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms – Lynn Kurland

*showing only book covers 1-3 of 11


Snow Like Ashes – Sara Raasch

My Reviews: Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3


Graceling – Kristin Cashore

*showing book 1 and 2 (only have read) of 3


Wings – Aprilynne Pike

*showing books 1-4 (only have read) of 5


All Images via Goodreads:

Circle of Magic


A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms

Snow Like Ashes




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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

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay

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.