The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….

Leave a comment

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.


1 Comment

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)

1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment

Weekend Writing Prompt #8

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
— Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Self-Reflection/Discussion Prompt: What story (or stories) are you just eager to write and share with the world? What is the story about? What genre is it? Where did the story idea come from? What about the idea drew you to it?


Leave a comment

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.



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!


Leave a comment

A Theory of Adaptation by Linda Hutcheon

Continuing from yesterday’s post concerning adaptation, I wanted to share with you all a great, insightful text on said subject: A Theory of Adaptation by Linda Hutcheon. I discovered this book in school for class. It’s rather intriguing how Hutcheon closely examines adaptation across media platforms and how it coincides with storytelling. I can only recommend the 2nd Edition, Paperback, 2012/2013 version of the book as that is the copy we learned from – I don’t know how different or same the over editions are from this one.

Image via Goodreads

Summary (via Goodreads):

A Theory of Adaptation explores the continuous development of creative adaptation, and argues that the practice of adapting is central to the story-telling imagination. Linda Hutcheon develops a theory of adaptation through a range of media, from film and opera, to video games, pop music and theme parks, analyzing the breadth, scope and creative possibilities within each.

This new edition is supplemented by a new preface from the author, discussing both new adaptive forms/platforms and recent critical developments in the study of adaptation. It also features an illuminating new epilogue from Siobhan O Flynn, focusing on adaptation in the context of digital media. She considers the impact of transmedia practices and properties on the form and practice of adaptation, as well as studying the extension of game narrative across media platforms, fan-based adaptation (from Twitter and Facebook to home movies), and the adaptation of books to digital formats.

A Theory of Adaptation is the ideal guide to this ever evolving field of study and is essential reading for anyone interested in adaptation in the context of literary and media studies.


Book Specs, according to Goodreads:
First Published: 2006 by Routledge

Cover Edition Published (shown above): August 27th 2012 by Routledge
Paperback | Nonfiction, Literary Criticism, Academic, Reference